The Elusive Millennial Manufacturer

The modern manufacturing industry is not what it used to be, which is largely a good thing. New technologies and processes are creating a cleaner and safer manufacturing facility, while boosting the industry’s image among the general public. However, manufacturers still sight that finding employees with the necessary skills is the top issue facing the industry today. This new generation of potential manufacturers are looking for something different in a job than the generations that have come before them. Millennials will make up a majority of the workforce in the next few years and we will be discussing what they are looking for in a job, and how it matches up with what current manufacturers are looking for from their employer. By investigating the similarities, manufacturers can begin to create a more attractive operation.


Of course, the number one when it comes to what millennials, and any other potential manufacturer, will look for in a job will be fair compensation. A manufacturer has the option to start a new employee with a low salary with expectations of rising it as the employee proves their worth and puts in their time with the company. But this may not be the best strategy to keep employees any longer. Starting an employee off with the highest possibly salary/ hourly compensation rate while still remaining competitive will be a much more successful strategy to retain the workforce. If an employee feels as though they are not being taken advantage of right out of the gate, they will be much more inclined to stick around and see where the position can take them. If they feel as though they are not making enough to support themselves or even their family, they will be left with a bad impression of the company right off the bat and could lead to them leaving as soon as they possibly can. This goes for not only millennial manufacturers, but any new employee regardless of their age. Cost of living has skyrocketed over the past few years and a fair pay rate will make any manufacturing organization a more attractive place to work.

Work-life balance

Work-life balance is another incredibly important aspect millennials and current manufacturers are looking for in a job. In a survey put together by ResourceMFG &, it is clear manufacturers are willing to put in the time but there is an overwhelming push for more paid time off rather than pay increases. Instead of adding small pay increases, offering more PTO days to employees will show that the business cares about the individuals time with their own family and is willing to let them take personal time off without sacrificing their paycheck. This will greatly improve the image and attractiveness of any manufacturing operation that takes this route.

When it comes to work schedules, there has been a migration away from the 12 hour shift. With a challenging recruitment market, a 12 hour shift may thwart off work-life balance focused millennials. Working 8 hours is more in line with what the new generation of employees are looking for.

Embracing Technology

Millennials were brought up in an interesting environment where technology rules all and communication is instant. They want, more than anything, for this kind of connectivity and efficiency to transfer over to their workplace. Technology has brought with it so many incredible benefits for any kind of company doing business today. No matter the distance or time of day, anyone can be reached if there is a question or concern. Without embracing this new technology that is available, millennials will fear they will be stuck in the past .

New software , hardware, and communication tools must be investigated and seriously considered. Without appropriate upgrades to an outdated facility, a manufacturer will have an incredibly hard time trying to attract the millennial manufacturer. But not only will they not be able to renew their aging workforce, their business will suffer as well. New manufacturing technology is more than just a way to promote your business to the new generation of manufacturers, these new systems offer incredible tools that have the potential to add so much value to any company. Processes will become streamlined and communication will foster new leaner manufacturing lines. Once the proper technology is in place and millennials flock to that organization, they might even be able to help implement these new systems because of their born ability to understand and work with new technology that might seem foreign to the baby boomer manufacturer.

Investing in Employees

One last important note manufacturers need to pay attention to is investing in the professional development of their employees. This goes for not only the millennial manufacturer but all employees on staff today. Employees want to feel as though their company cares about their own professional success. Investing into an employee’s education will not only give them the sense that their company wants them to grow professionally, but will also offer the company another employee with new and useful skills.

Many manufacturers fear that if they invest into training new employees, the employee will opt to move to a new company and capitalize off their renewed skill set. However, if an employee sees that they are being taken care of at their current company, they will be more inclined to stick around and give back to the company that nurtured them. If a manufacturer does not empower their workforce and ensure they have the skills necessary to cope with the advanced manufacturing industry, their skills will become outdated and the company will suffer. Training and education are a must in today’s fast-moving manufacturing industry, as well as helping businesses attract and retain the elusive millennial manufacturer.

It is also so important for employees to understand where their current job can take them through the manufacturing organization. Having a clear map of how they can grow professionally is one of the most important ways to retain the workforce. If they see their current position as a dead-end job, they will jump ship as soon as they get the first offer that pays a little more. But instead, if a manufacturer offers training into new skills and the employees have a clear plan on how they can use this training to move up within their current organization they may opt to stay with their current employer and will strive for a higher position within the organization.


The manufacturing sector is transforming rapidly and the needs of the workforce is evolving just as fast. Manufacturers that can recognize the needs of their workforce will have a much easier time attracting the new generation of manufacturers as well as retaining their current workforce. Fair compensation, a focus on work-life balance, embracing emerging technologies and investing in employees are some prime ways manufacturers can stand out from the crowd and revitalize their talent pipeline. Ignoring these changes will not do a business any good, embracing the 21st century manufacturing model will not only help a manufacturer find new talent, but has the potential to improve the company as a whole.