‘What it took to keep us going’: Entry-level manufacturing workers speak out

Reviewing data, analyzing trends, and evaluating the effectiveness of policies are often how companies study their retention efforts. While these methods offer information, the best resource for finding out why employees stay in their jobs is to ask them.

I.W. did and spoke with three entry-level workers in different industries. Here are their answers as to what they love about their job and why they stayed.

Chris – mechanical technician, steelworker

The reason I stayed here is because when I was hired I wasn’t the highest rated mechanic, and they were willing to train me by sending me to shops and school to can improve in my work. I especially like having a clear career path and knowing that I have a way to grow with the company and always move forward.

The learning process here is a personal choice. Management doesn’t sit you down and have these conversations with you, after the initial probationary period. It’s basically up to you to ask managers for information that allows you to learn new skills. After you complete some courses, you come back to the managers so they can assess your work and see if you’re ready to take it to the next level.

It’s not just me, I see it with my co-workers. Mechanics move up the ranks and then from there they have the option to join management if they wish or they can go elsewhere in the company and learn something new.

As for the other things I love about this job is that I can work as much as I want. There is no limit on overtime. The pay is good and there are obvious ways for me to increase it if I want more.

As for the areas where I think the company goes the extra mile, for me it’s how they think about security and how they treat people. In our factory, a lot of dangerous things are involved in the processes and we constantly have safety training. Still, things have happened and people inevitably get hurt – I recently had a bad burn a few months ago. The company responded and basically rebuilt the entire system that was causing my injury. They added dozens of extra safeties to the system to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else. And while I was out of work and in the hospital, they made sure I was taken care of. I didn’t have to worry about my livelihood or anything while I healed.

Morayo – mechanical technician, industrial/specialty gas producer

In my current business, I like knowing there is room for growth. I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and I still have room to grow, for me it’s important. I like that there is a specific training path, so there are lots of opportunities to branch out.

It is important for a company to invest in its staff. It makes you want to stay when you know the company is investing in you.

One thing I particularly like about this company is that I feel it has proper leadership as long as the managers have experience in the jobs they oversee. It gives them perspective and they understand what it takes to get the job done.

I also find myself in a mentor role, as I have a lot of experience and therefore try to facilitate their growth.

Growth is important to me, in general, because I’m a person who wants to put down roots and become stronger than before. I plan to stay on the path, work hard and keep going.

Stephen – medical calibration technician, medical device manufacturer

I was a calibration technician for almost two years in this job. I found the quality both in the work we do and in the management.

Another thing that is important to me, as I support my family, is the level of remuneration. I feel like at this job, I get paid what I’m worth. I don’t have to worry about providing for my family.

Another big issue is the schedule, again due to my family. I can work overtime whenever I want to maintain a good work/life balance.

I’ve had enough training to feel comfortable in my job and that’s something I really appreciate.

In terms of my relationship with my colleagues, I feel like I can talk directly to people in my department and it’s not a formal relationship between an employee and a manager. It’s more relaxed. Every morning I talk with my managers, and we talk about what needs to be done, but not always in a serious tone, at least for me, it’s a bit of a family atmosphere.

One point I want to make to manufacturing companies is that when it comes to retaining and developing talent, to me, it really comes down to paying. If there is one company that is unwilling to pay its employees what they are worth, there are ten other companies lining up and ready to do so.

Although manufacturing companies have talked about hours and other perks, which are important, at the end of the day you have to pay people enough so they can raise families and have a good life.


Chris, Morayo and Stephen all found their current positions with the help of Daniel Jacob, a manufacturing industry veteran, US Navy industrial electrician and now head of recruiting for Orion Talent. “Looking at the main concerns they all mentioned, such as pay, hours and training, I would say that’s what I’ve found to be true with a lot of people I talk to. Regarding wages, first there is an equity issue within companies with respect to seasoned workers and their pay scale, and then the higher pay scale for newer workers. plays in many companies.

Jacob says the advice he gives to factory managers is that to keep up with the increased payouts, companies need to grow their workforce organically. This means not only looking for someone who is 80% technically savvy, but finding someone who has 50 or 60% the solution right now and understands how to use the tools to gain the knowledge they will need. Companies should use training programs as well as mentoring to develop this talent. »

When it comes to the issue of planning, Jacob says companies need to change their attitude. “Managers need to move away from the idea that every new hire will go to the night shift. This needs to stop. They need to be able to offer day shifts to the younger generation. They have families. Older workers no longer have family. The day shift is prime time, and they won’t work like they used to for 10 years just to get a day shift.

In addition to these things, Jacob advises companies on how to convey to candidates the “sizzle” behind their organizations. “What makes your business attractive, I ask them. Why would anyone want to work here? These are the factors that ultimately result in greater retention.

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