Transform Your Workforce: Real-Life Examples Of Overcoming Workforce Challenges
Workforce challenges like the lack of skilled workers, difficulty attracting and retaining employees, and keeping workers safe are becoming more common. Do you have a roadmap for dealing with these issues? Statistics and product information can be useful for understanding workforce management solutions, but sometimes it is most helpful to hear from someone who has successfully overcome their own workforce challenges. Let’s learn from three Van Meter customers who have come up with unique solutions to overcome their workforce challenges:
Real-Life Example #1: Land O’Lakes
Land O’Lakes, one of the largest producers of butter and cheese in the United States, hoped to attract and retain employees and reduce the cost of production. Luckily, there was a solution for both—a good training program. “If you show interest in employees with a good training program, they are more likely to stay with you and become an active part of the team,” said Mark Hanley, Sr. Asset Reliability Manager.
For Land O’Lakes, building a successful training program was about giving workers the flexibility to choose a platform that works for them. For example, it can be hard to get hourly employees out of the plant and into a classroom setting for long periods of time. If they can take online classes instead, they have a higher chance of completing the training successfully. Hanley mentioned the importance of having a balance between hands-on training, online classes and utilizing outside sources to come in and coach. After employees have completed training, Land O’Lakes gets feedback to determine what worked and what did not, so they can improve the training next time.
Hanley said having better trained operators and mechanics, as well as better organization, has resulted in reduced production cost because they can produce the same amount of product (or more) in less time.
“If you show interest in employees with a good training program, they are more likely to stay with you and become an active part of the team.”
– Mark Hanley
Sr. Asset Reliability Manager, Land O'Lakes
Real-Life Example #2: HNI Workplace Furnishings
A common misconception is that training employees makes it easier for them to leave. Matthew Nicol, Sr. Talent Acquisition Manager has found the opposite to be true at HNI, a manufacturer of workplace furnishings. “We are investing in our members, and the return has been tenfold,” he said.
Nicol and HNI wanted to develop their workforce’s capabilities to support an advanced manufacturing environment. They wanted to make sure the curriculum was attractive to applicants and supported the future needs of the organization. Partnering with Van Meter Training gave HNI the ability to customize their training program with what works for them.
“Partnering with Van Meter gave us the capability to own how our members are training and developing,” said Nicol. “As our business continues to grow and evolve, Van Meter can come with us. We were able to scale from just a handful to over 25 apprentices.”
Nicol also talked about the importance of a flexible training program. Offering online courses, a learning management system and hands-on courses through Van Meter has made it possible for HNI to train people who otherwise would not have had access to proper training. Nicol said the training has sold itself. For the last 26 positions they have hired, they had over 400 applicants. Their apprentices are more prepared in a shorter amount of time, and retention has been “amazing.”
“Partnering with Van Meter gave us the capability to own how our members are training and developing. As our business continues to grow and evolve, Van Meter can come with us.”
– Matthew Nicol
Sr. Talent Acquisition Manager, HNI Workplace Furnishings
Real-Life Example #3: The Aagard Group
Many people think improving safety means productivity must suffer, but at Aagard, a safer workplace has prevented loss-time accidents and improved employee retention. Travis Kloehn, Director of Engineering, and Aagard have made safety part of their culture. Aagard has a “Good Catch” program where employees are rewarded for submitting safety issues or near accidents they have seen. That way the company can follow up and address the issue as needed. They even ask OSHA to stop by routinely and assess how they can make their culture safer.
Aagard builds automation machines and equipment, so machine safety means keeping themselves and their customers safe. Instead of looking at a smaller pool of skilled workers as a challenge, Aagard has embraced the constraints and used it as an opportunity to drive creativity regarding machine safety. They have focused on automating their own processes and how they can create more value in the way they bring their product to their customers. “Those exercises have built relationships across departments and a culture of togetherness and winning,” said Kloehn. “When it comes to retention, if the team is winning together, you are in a good spot. We are not at the point where the robots are building the robots, but we are on our way there."
Kloehn emphasized that machine safety is not optional. “Whether building internally or outsourcing, become knowledgeable and realize that safety affects people’s lives,” he said.
“When it comes to retention, if the team is winning together, you are in a good spot.”
– Travis Kloehn
Director of Engineering, The Aagard Group
The three customers in this article participated in our TRANSFORM webinar, Achieve Operational Excellence Amidst Workforce Challenges August 3. For more information, you can view a recording of the webinar at vanmeterinc.com/transform or contact our solutions consultants for help overcoming your workforce challenges.
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