Tips for Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in Manufacturing

How “water pressure” is the first step in attracting and retaining talent

In today’s manufacturing plant, we are gripped by a fast-paced environment in a world of supply and demand, making it hard to do anything but put out fires. This makes some things get overlooked, and it’s not the machines that are breaking down or the number below the production goal that is the first thing to be cast aside; most of the time, it is the employees.

It’s not done in a purposeful way. Genuinely our minds naturally go towards thinking about the expectations that were put in our job description, and we have tunnel vision to get those things done and production where it needs to be. It’s hard to think about the person working right beside you when you are thinking about completing the work on your plate. The result? Employees leave our culture, and in turn, company reputation suffers. Both greatly affect attracting and retaining talent, so how can we do better?

You can’t start to think about what makes you attract top talent when you can’t think about what makes people want to leave. In most instances obtaining the top talent means pulling them from another position. So, what are the factors that can catch someone’s eye?

First, let’s consider why people leave their current position.

  1. Money. Money will always be at the top of this list, which will never change but historically speaking, people will only leave their current job that they are happy at if the money is significantly much more. According to, only 25% of employees cite money as the reason for leaving.
  2. Burnout. With gaps in skillset and headcount, employees are having to step up and work over 40-hour work weeks, which is leading to major burnout as well as a lack of a work/life balance. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the average number of openings over the last 12 months has averaged 828,000.
  3. Appreciation. Employees are proud of what they do and what they contribute to making a product.

Second, how can we address the top three reasons people are leaving?

  1. Money. Ensure you offer a fair and competitive wage with room for growth. Allied Reliability can help you with a free labor market analysis.
  2. Burnout. Use an agency or supplement resources while your on-site recruiting team hires full-time employees to help with the burden of the employment gap at your facility.
  3. Appreciation. Employee appreciation programs are extremely important to implement, but the key to success with them is ensuring management is involved. Individuals want to know the managers, supervisors, and leads are seeing the work being done, and it’s not just someone from HR who isn’t always on the floor.

Why the “water pressure?”; What is the first step in retaining talent?

Changing compensation and filling employment gaps are not things that can happen overnight, but culture and appreciation is something that can be turned around more quickly while you work on the other things. There is a show on Apple TV called Ted Lasso about a football coach from America going to London to coach a soccer team. In the beginning episodes Ted opens a suggestion box to his players for things they want changed around the locker room. Now a lot of the suggestions weren’t really suggestions at all but there was one that asked for better water pressure in the bathroom showers. Ted went and looked at it and got it fixed. Now it may have been a small thing to do but it was that small thing that got the team to start trusting Ted.

I encourage you to look around and ask yourself what can be your “water pressure” that will help the employees and will be a small thing you will be able to build upon? Would it be more recognition? Something new in the break room? The ideas are endless but it’s a small step to showing employees that appreciation they are craving. Then you move onto your next “water pressure”. What is something else you can do to ensure that employees are recognized on a regular basis?

How do you Ensure you Keep Top Talent?

“I don’t have to worry about them.” Have you ever said or thought this phrase about an employee who simply shows up to work, works hard, and clocks out at the end of the day? They follow the rules, they don’t cause a lot of unnecessary noise and they do a good job at their craft. We often don’t think about these employees as much because they are not the ones where you have to do performance plans, write-ups, or go back and check their work.

Oprah Winfrey once said in a commencement speech at Harvard, “...and as soon as that camera shuts off, everyone always turns to me and inevitably, in their own way asks this question: 'Was that, ok?'" She goes on to point out all the individuals she has heard it from and says, “[We] all want to know one thing: “Was that, ok?” “Did you hear me?” “Do you see me?” “Did what I say mean anything to you?”.

Appreciation is key to retaining top talent, and it is so easy to get distracted by the individuals who are not hitting the mark that you are not checking in with the ones who come in every day and show up and do their job. Make a point to check in and acknowledge any worker when you reflect and say, “I don’t have to worry about them”. It’s easy to forget the ones who don’t make the noise, and you are surprised when they leave.

How a Staffing Agency can help you Attract and Retain Top Talent

If you are considering partnering with a staffing agency, there are many ways they can lead to you successfully attracting and retaining top talent. A staffing agency can make sure that they are setting up clear expectations from the initial conversation around what the job entails and can weed out any candidates who are not a fit. They also are always targeting passive candidates who may not have their resume out there but when approached, are open to listening to other opportunities.

A staffing agency like Allied Reliability also provides a temporary staffing augmentation where we send skilled trade labor into the facility to work for a certain amount of time while you continue to fill the roles with full-time employees. These individuals are open to working all shifts and any number of days needed. They also come from all over the United States, so they are not competing with your local market. This can help with the burnout factor to relieve some of those individuals who have been overworked to give them a better work/life balance.

In conclusion.

Find your “water pressure”, recognize the “I don’t have to worry about them employees,” and consider utilizing a staffing agency to get ahead to retain your top talent and attract individuals to contribute to your future.

About the Author

Kelly Gerritse

Kelly Gerritse

In her current role with Allied Reliability, Kelly is director of recruiting and staffing for the contract division. In her nine years with Allied Reliability, Kelly has also held roles as a corporate recruiter and a sales executive.

Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies from the College of Charleston where she also competed as a NCAA Division I athlete in indoor and outdoor volleyball.

Connect with Kelly on LinkedIn.


Allied Reliability provides asset management consulting and predictive maintenance solutions across the lifecycle of your production assets to deliver required throughput at lowest operating cost while managing asset risk. We do this by partnering with our clients, applying our proven asset management methodology, and leveraging decades of practitioner experience across more verticals than any other provider. Our asset management solutions include Consulting & Training, Condition-based Maintenance, Industrial Staffing, Electrical Services, and Machine Reliability.

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