Effective onboarding is an important tool in addressing the labor shortage and skills gap in the manufacturing industry. Here, we discuss the advantages of successful manufacturing onboarding and the components of effective programs that get new workers up to speed and integrated into the organizational culture.
Onboarding sets the stage for a new hire’s career at a company. When done effectively, it improves employee engagement, job preparedness, and productivity – all of which are critical for addressing the manufacturing skills gap. Effective onboarding also improves new employee retention, which leads to major time and cost savings.
Onboarding helps new hires to prepare for their new role, meet their coworkers, and begin integrating into the company. Thoughtful, effective onboarding immediately makes employees feel valued and supported, which increases engagement and job satisfaction. Successful onboarding has also been shown to increase productivity by 70%.
This is particularly important for industries that employ lone workers as it helps these employees feel more connected to their employer.
Many people, particularly those in younger generations, have incorrect or outdated perceptions of the manufacturing industry (ex: manufacturing jobs are dirty, non-skilled, non-rewarding, low-paying, and lead to “dead-end” careers).
Onboarding is an opportunity to address these misconceptions and to ensure that employees know about the wealth of career opportunities that manufacturing offers, particularly as new technologies are introduced. It’s a time to introduce new employees to the realities of modern manufacturing jobs: clean, rewarding, mentally challenging, high-paying roles with vast opportunities for career advancement.
Clearly outlining career paths helps new hires imagine a future in the industry and empowers them to work towards goals that move their careers forward.
One of the big challenges that manufacturers face is employees who are not engaged at work, which leads to absenteeism, poor performance, and retention problems. In fact, the industry has an employee absenteeism and turnover rate of 37%. For perspective, the average national turnover rate is 3.6%.
Effective onboarding can improve retention by helping new hires integrate into their roles and learn about manufacturing career paths – studies have shown onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%. Additionally, employees who experience effective onboarding are 30 times more likely to have high job satisfaction and 48 times more likely to feel supported by their organization, both of which contribute to retention.
Onboarding is especially important as the manufacturing industry works to attract and retain large numbers of Millennials and Gen Z employees, as these demographics increasingly search for roles with employer-provided training.
You can also use your new employee onboarding to introduce new hires to your organization’s unique goals, mission, values, and culture. This is often done, in part, by including a discussion or video with the organization’s chief executive that welcomes newly hired employees and communicates a shared understanding of what the company is all about – what you do, how and why you do it, and how you relate with people both within and outside of the organization.
Of course, a core component of onboarding training is preparing new hires to help the organization reach its goals, which requires highly skilled workers. A well-designed onboarding program can be the jump-start new hires need to transition from eager novices to competent entry-level workers and, with time, to expertise. Additionally, onboarding training promotes well-rounded skill development and helps avoid knowledge gaps related to the simple chance of an individual employee’s on-the-job experiences.
Consider using the evidence-based training method known as deliberate practice to further accelerate workers’ skill development and level of expertise.
If you are considering online skills-building options, consider Vector Solutions’ Manufacturing Library, available with our partner BizLibrary. BizLibrary offers five specialty libraries designed to train industrial workers on crucial manufacturing skills, from Core Industrial Skills to Commercial Facilities Maintenance.
Effective onboarding can also improve safety and health at your worksite. Employees are three times more likely to have a lost-time injury during their first month of work, but proper onboarding can mitigate this risk.
By providing early, effective guidance about health and safety best practices, manufacturing companies can prevent health and safety incidents, workplace accidents, property damage, and even near-misses. This can help limit injury-associated worker absenteeism and promote regulation compliance, workforce productivity, employee satisfaction, and morale.
Effective training is an important component of manufacturing onboarding. To help, we have created a free Manufacturing Training Guide that provides a step-by-step method to help you design and create the best training program that you can.
Manufacturing onboarding experiences can differ depending on the type of company and the job responsibilities of new hires, but typical programs include a mix of classroom learning, online training, hands-on exercises, and additional training delivery methods, such as videos, mentoring programs, or even virtual reality and augmented reality.
This blended learning approach, or combination of different training methods, provides more effective learning outcomes than any one training method alone. Let’s briefly break down in-person and online training.
In-person manufacturing onboarding should concentrate on two broad areas of focus: 1) company and role information, and 2) training and skills development.
Company and role information. During onboarding, provide employees a relevant overview of your company and how their role fits into it. This should include discussing pertinent workplace policies, key points of contact, and clear guidelines about expectations for workers. This is also a good time to provide new hires with career path insights and to describe potential role progression.
Onboarding is also an opportunity to answer questions and establish a communication feedback loop so that employees know how to ask questions and report concerns. One popular way to do this is by assigning workplace “buddies” or mentors who can provide advice and guidance. Another is by deploying an anonymous reporting system.
Training and skills development. In-person training and skills development is typically a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on learning.
Classroom instruction, which can occur virtually, is well-suited to widely sharing information such as company processes and procedures; company policies, missions, and values; and workplace hazards, safety controls, emergency signals, and emergency reporting procedures. This information can be communicated using presentations, live safety demonstrations, instructional videos, and more. It’s helpful to incorporate interactive activities into classroom instruction to keep workers engaged and encourage teamwork and collaboration.
Hands-on learning, the second component of in-person skills training, can include job shadowing, workplace walkthroughs, and introductions to materials and job tasks. For optimal worker engagement and memory, hands-on learning and classroom instruction should go hand-in-hand so that workers can immediately contextualize and apply their new knowledge.
Online courses are an increasingly popular component of job training, including onboarding and new hire training, because they provide easily accessible, self-paced content that suits workers’ schedules and learning preferences. Although online courses should not replace hands-on training, they can be as effective or even more effective than classroom training.
When considering online training options for your workforce, ensure that content is developed by industry experts. Other helpful features include instructional design, including short course length, content chunking, casual and conversational spoken audio, engaging visuals, interactive course components, and pre- and post-course knowledge assessments. These features facilitate worker engagement, retention, and skill development, and transfer to on-the-job performance.
But not investing in training can lead to diminished productivity and quality and increase safety issues and concerns. Getting leadership buy-in is difficult but can be made easier by proving the ROI of training programs.
Vector Solutions’ Manufacturing Library, available with our partner BizLibrary, has all of the tools you need for the online portion of your onboarding program. Through our producer partnership, BizLibrary now offers five specialty libraries designed to train industrial workers on crucial manufacturing skills.
As you plan your onboarding program, consider the Core Industrial Skills Library, which is specifically designed to help manufacturing workers develop new, basic skills. This library includes more than 90 online courses that cover in-demand training topics ranging from Equipment and Tools, Industrial Materials, and Welding to Computer Basics, Troubleshooting, Math and Science Concepts, and more.
With content designed by workplace training experts, including technical subject matter experts and instructional designers, these courses help manufacturing companies build more skilled, efficient, and productive workforces – both during onboarding and beyond.
Online training is a helpful component of manufacturing onboarding and training. To help, we have created a free Online Manufacturing Training Guide that discusses how to find the best online manufacturing training solutions – courses, LMS, and providers – and how to determine the role of online learning within your organization's overall learning strategy.