Connections for Success



Creative Ways for Manufacturers to Attract Fresh Talent

Young people may not think factories are the most glamorous places to work. But owners of manufacturing companies know firsthand just how rewarding, both financially and intellectually, careers in this sector can be. Some have found creative ways to breathe new life into their mature companies by enticing millennials to join their workforces.  Millennials are roughly defined as people born between 1980 and 2000.

Offer Value-Added Work Environments

Millennials tend to be more technology savvy and innovative than previous generations, according to executive feedback reported in the 2014 Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey. Hiring workers with such attributes can contribute to a manufacturer’s ability to provide the creative edge it needs to outmaneuver competitors.

As an added bonus, younger workers tend to have lower salary expectations and value non-monetary perks and benefits over cash. In fact, 45% of millennials prefer flexible work environments over pay rates, according to “The Cost of Millennial Retention,” a report published by research and consulting firm, Millennial Branding, and the career network They want to choose when and where they work, rather than being limited to working a traditional 9-to-5 schedule. Many young people also seek careers that provide a sense of personal fulfillment.

Examples of offerings that appeal to millennials include flextime arrangements, mentoring programs and additional training and licensing opportunities. For example, a millennial worker may be motivated by a year-end bonus program that is quantified by their original ideas such as the development of innovative solutions to lower costs and waste (lean manufacturing) or the improvement of product quality (Six Sigma principles).

Stay Ahead of the Technology Curve

Technology is an important part of the daily life of millennials and they know how to use it to improve efficiency. Millennials are also likely to try to integrate intuitive devices and online services used in their personal lives into the workplace, such as tablets, video chat, social media and cloud computing.

Managers can leverage millennials’ deep understanding of technology by involving them in purchasing decisions. Some forward-thinking manufacturers have even added millennials to their boards of directors to increase diversity and offer fresh, technology-driven perspectives on such issues as strategic investment decisions and data security.

Recruit and Mentor

Maybe your next question is: how do I attract millennials to my organization? Young people today face a tighter job market compared to previous generations. Currently, there is an ongoing talent gap in manufacturing, especially high-tech niches. This talent gap offers great potential opportunities for the millennials to integrate themselves in the manufacturing sector.  Proactive high school and college academic advisors are often instrumental in directing students toward careers in high-demand manufacturing sectors and recommending apprentice or internship programs.

Many businesses and schools work together in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) programs that start preparing students for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.  These programs can reach students as early as kindergarten. Today, roughly 6,500 schools operate PLTW programs in all 50 states.

Manufacturing companies are a key partner in PLTW programs. For example, owners and managers may mentor students and teachers, companies may lend technology equipment to community colleges and high schools, and human resources departments may offer apprentice or internship programs.

Not only do PLTW programs offer opportunities for manufacturers to give back to local communities, they also create a source of workers trained in STEM disciplines from which they can draw in the future. As an even additional bonus, money spent on these training programs may be deductible for income tax purposes.  In some cases, these deductions may generate federal and state tax credits that could be refundable or carried forward to future periods.

Overcome Stereotypes

Manufacturers and millennials can be a winning combination. In order to help with this progression, manufacturers need to refresh the sector’s image by promoting flexible work options and personal development opportunities, investing in millennial-friendly technology and participating in PLTW programs.

To brainstorm creative solutions and maximize the tax benefits of attracting and hiring millennials, or for questions, contact Amy Jackson at [email protected] or call her at 312.670.7444. Visit to learn more about our Manufacturing & Distribution Group.

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