MAGNET Trains Manufacturers on How to Take Charge of Their Workforce



There were many takeaways from MAGNET’s August 6th Develop your Workforce for Growth event, but a key one is this: do your due diligence. Today’s manufacturing landscape is both promising and challenging; while some challenges may be out of your business’ hands, there are many things you can do to strengthen your workforce. Our  Develop your Workforce event explored workforce strategies that your company can adopt and are completely within your company’s control.

Director of Workforce & Talent Development Judith Crocker and Senior Business Consultant Donna Rhodes framed a variety of workforce challenges facing manufacturers today. Manufacturers, who often have unskilled incumbent workers as well as a shortage of applicants, are not aligned with company needs and culture. Crocker and Rhodes stressed that companies must be proactive rather than reactive in addressing these challenges.

The event featured a panel of three leaders in companies that have successfully addressed workforce challenges, ranging from addressing skills gaps to retaining employees.

Bill Swan, Lead OJT Coordinator at Swagelok, spoke about Swagelok’s successful program for developing a consistent talent pipeline. To improve their outlook, Swagelok partnered with Tri-C and MAGNET to create a fast-track program for potential employees. Participants who successfully complete the program are guaranteed a job after eight weeks of interning, instead of needing to onboard for 6-11 months. Swagelok has assistance from Tri-C and MAGNET in recruiting people for the program, and has the ability to quickly respond to the changing work environment with new curriculum.
Kenton Woodhead, Manager of Purchasing & Lean/Continuous Improvement at Royal Plastics, discussed Royal Plastics’ strategies for improving its current workforce. After receiving assistance from MAGNET Growth Advisor Michael Kaminski, the company adopted lean manufacturing to improve efficiency. They also adopted new employee onboarding and training practices, and root cause analysis (RCA). These measures resulted in huge increases in efficiency in operations, higher retention of workers, and development of promotable employees.

Fairmount Santrol’s Reggie Stover, who serves as vice president of the company’s People Talent and Development division, spoke about talent management practices, emphasizing that applicants must be the right cultural fit for the company. Stover explained how workers are investments: they must be chosen carefully, and once they are a part of the company, they must be invested in, leveraged, and protected. Fairmount Santrol uses specific onboarding, check-in, and leadership development procedures to maintain engagement and growth.

It is apparent that there are lots of strategies companies can take to both attract and retain qualified workers. However, many companies at the event shared that they had not adopted essential strategies, such as documenting task and skill requirements for essential jobs, having a defined employer brand, and adopting a standard onboarding process. These are huge lost opportunities.

Your company can tackle workforce problems by doing your due diligence and being proactive. MAGNET’s Workforce and Talent Development (WFTD) team is here to help you with all of your workforce challenges. To learn more about the steps you can take to attract and retain workers, and how MAGNET can help you in the process, contact Linda Barita at or 216.391.7766.

Posted by MAGNET Ohio in Events, Workforce

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