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HR problems in Manufacturing Sector Organisations

Hi everyone I am currently studying Level 5 CIPD and doing some research into the HR problems that manufacturing organisations are currently facing. If you work in the manufacturing sector, what are the 3 biggest problems you are currently facing?
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  • Hi Megan
    I am factory manager in the textile industry. I think one of the biggest problems we face is recruiting and retaining staff in the factory at the moment it seems that no one wants to work anymore. I am also studying for my level 5 as well.
  • Hi Gary

    Thanks for your reply that’s really helpful. I am definitely finding the same problem! Do you have any other problems facing your organisation with regards HR practice?
  • My experience of HR is mainly within the retail sector, but earlier this year I worked for a manufacturing company. Trade unions seemed to be involved a lot more. I don’t know whether it was the culture of that particular organisation, but everyone just seemed so unhappy and the most minor incidents that could have been easily resolved seemed to have unions involved because the staff did not trust management or HR. I remember the Director of Ops telling me “this isn’t retail, if someone threatens you with a union, they will do it.”

    Also recruitment. The type of work was ‘undesirable’ and obviously factory floor based. No one seemed to want to do it for long and turnover and productivity rates were horrendous. Again, this may have been that particular organisation.
  • Hi Megan,

    I work in manufacturing and sickness and absence is also an issue.

  • Thanks Amo, that’s really helpful feedback!
  • Hi Megan
    I agree with Lisa sickness and absence is also an issue seems people don’t like working on a Monday.
  • An ageing workforce !
  • Hi Megan

    If you haven’t sought them out already, may I suggest that https://www.makeuk.org/ may be willing and able to help you.
  • Hi Anel

    Is this with skilled workers? Do you mind me asking how try to overcome this problem?
  • Hi, I'm an HR Manager in food manufacturing. My 3 biggest challenges are recruiting and retaining staff, recruiting staff that can speak English and short term sickness.
  • Hi Megan - Yes it’s skilled workers. There’s been a bigger focus on benefits for them but also a heavily increased notice period so it leaves sufficient time for finding a replacement (which is hard!) but also passing on the very valuable knowledge.
  • Not in this field any more, but when I was:

    1. Recruitment and retention of shopfloor staff. Recent decades have seen a cultural shift in the perception of such manufacturing jobs in the UK. Whereas, once, they were seen as the backbone of the working class, now they are looked down on as low-skilled labour - a job to be done by the poorly-educated and desperate (despite the fact that some of our best people could earn upwards of £50k with overtime). This hasn't been helped by competition with foreign-based companies or influxes of "cheap" foreign labour, by the weakening of the trades union movement or by the growth in automation (which has reduced the number of people required, but increased the skills requirements).

    2. Poor Management/Workforce relations. With the decline in the TU movement, the interface between management and workforce has been lost and now it is almost universally antagonistic with any change seen as inevitably seeking to "screw" the workers and line the pockets of managers. For HR, this point has probably been the most positive as HR in manufacturing is increasingly focused on improving this relationship as a strategic contributor to success.

    3. Skills requirements & bureaucracy. A lot of manufacturing relies upon certain industry certifications to obtain contracts and tenders, evidence for which is highly bureaucratic in nature and doesn't support a constantly-changing workforce whose approach to paperwork tends to be... irregular. I don't object to the bureaucracy, per se. It's there to try to ensure a certain minimum level of good practice, after all. But the frequency with which the goalposts get moved and the difficulty involved in staying up-to-speed when typically working to very tight margins to begin with is a significant contributor to businesses failing in this industry, in my opinion.
  • Megan hi - time for training for new skills, pay and reward and absence management