Members of Gen Z want to work in places where they have a sense of belonging, can develop a career path, and feel valued and trusted. Many believe they’ve found what they’re looking for in manufacturing.

Research by HCM solution provider UKG, in partnership with IndustryWeek, found that 92% of the Gen Z talent employed within manufacturing are satisfied with their current careers.

Kylene Zenk, director of UKG’s manufacturing practice, said that 88% of manufacturers view attracting Gen Z as a high or very high priority. “Many of [them] are straining to build a talent pipeline while nurturing their current workforce and navigating their recoveries from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

Gen Z and HR  Align

Manufacturers face intense pressure to attract and retain next-gen workers, the report said. Three in four say finding and keeping talent (75%) and keeping it (74%) is difficult. Just more than a third (34%) feel like they lag behind their peers.

For all the pressure on talent acquisition, the report said HR’s job has grown particularly difficult because Gen Z expects a wide range of benefits and opportunities. Gen Z considers all of these to be “extremely” or “very” important: good pay (75%), opportunities for advancement (72%) and work-life balance (71%), having a great boss (71%), schedule flexibility (70%) and competitive benefits (70%).

The report, titled the 2021 Future Manufacturing Workforce Study examines comments from HR leaders and Gen Z employees throughout the industry. The research informs five key HR strategies to succeed in recruiting and retaining Gen Z:

  • Create a seamless onboarding experience that rolls into an actionable training and development plan. Clear goals and transparent career paths drive job satisfaction for 67% of Gen Z, while 28% say opportunities for advancement are “extremely important.”
  • It’s not all about pay: Prioritize work-life balance by offering competitive time off and flexible work schedules. Work-life balance ranks high on Gen Z’s career wish list. More time off (31%) and flexible scheduling options (22%) are among the top three reasons an otherwise-satisfied Gen Z employee would change jobs.
  • Use HR and workforce data to examine catalysts for Gen Z turnover. The majority of HR leaders (77%) report that between 11% and 20% of their Gen Z workforce turns over annually. For example, understanding whether turnover is higher in a certain location or under a certain supervisor enables organizations to reverse unfavorable trends.
  • Engage digital natives with modern, consumer-grade technology. In their personal lives, Gen Z has always had access to information when and where they need it. That means it’s imperative for manufacturers to satisfy workplace expectations for technology. But there’s a long way to go, the report found: Only 41% of manufacturing’s Gen Z employees can swap a shift or check work schedules from a mobile device.
  • Create more opportunities for Gen Z to interact with management and build trust on the job. In seeking advancement, Gen Z wants recognition and respect (70%), and to receive feedback on their performance (69%). Only 35% feel that they get adequate face time with their direct supervisor.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to hiring no longer works,” said Zenk. “It’s imperative that HR is tailoring its messaging and recruitment initiatives depending on who they’re targeting.”

Among HR leaders, the most common strategies used to attract Gen Z involve collaboration with local schools and colleges, said Russell Richey, research director at Endeavor Business Media, IndustryWeek’s parent. “Fifty-three percent are involved in developing programs and coursework that help teach students real-world technical skills related to manufacturing work. This bodes well for the future of manufacturing.”

You can download the report here.



By Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer is executive editor of RecruitingDaily and the HCM Technology Report. He’s written for TechTarget, HR Magazine, SHRM, Dice Insights, TLNT.com and TalentCulture, as well as Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Staffing Industry Analysts. He likes schnauzers, sailing and Kentucky-distilled beverages.


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