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In the highly competitive electronics industry, there’s very little room for error. In fact, a common statistic in the industry is that customers want to see less than four defects per million opportunities. Now that’s a tall order. We can automate many responsibilities but certainly not all of them. The human workforce remains one of the most important variables in a company’s success.

Improve Manufacturing Workforce

(Pixabay / chaingam990)

So the challenge becomes, how do we get and keep good employees? Unfortunately, the labor supply is a wild card. Sometimes you have a glut of qualified applicants for one position. At other times, you may be scraping to find even one wet-behind-the-ears job applicant. But regardless of what you have to deal with, the customer doesn’t wait. They want what they want with a quick return and optimal quality.

As you work to shape a competent and dependable workforce, here are a few tips:

Give a thorough introductory training

All new employees should attend an initial orientation that helps them learn about safety policies, company resources, paid time off, proper attire, cell phone use, workers’ compensation regulations, and more. This is a great time to share your company philosophy and introduce new team members to the management team. The more you can create a family atmosphere and infuse the work environment with purpose and a shared vision, the more loyalty you can foster among employees.

Ensure that each new employee attends the full training. You can manage this through a simple checklist or a cloud-based system. Consider PowerPoint presentations or training videos to animate the instruction.

Ensure high-quality, job-specific training

Some new employees may have years of experience, but others may know very little about the job they are stepping into. Have a mentor in each division who can provide appropriate training and supervision for all new employees. There’s nothing worse than throwing someone into an unfamiliar position without adequate instruction. They’ll feel discouraged, and the quality of your operations will suffer. Checklists are handy with job-specific training just as they were with the initial orientation. Set up an accountability system to ensure that each new employee completes each phase of the applicable training.

Offer opportunities for advancement

Provide continuing education opportunities. These can be offered online or in an outside location as employees get certifications in shop math, blueprint reading, different aspects of IPC workmanship, soldering standards, and more. You can also sponsor learning opportunities between departments, allowing employees to gain skills that are typically performed by other people in the company. As a general rule, the more awareness people have of the company’s entire mission, the more incentive they will have to perform their part well. This is because they can see how shortcomings or successes on their part affect other people in the organization.

Reward top performers

If you reward people simply for their time on the job, you’re not encouraging hard work and innovation. After all, you don’t want people who simply punch a time card; you want those who are constantly doing a little extra and thinking of ways to improve processes. Award people with raises, promotions, vacation days, etc. Consider sponsoring quarterly contests for outstanding employees. Offer a small ceremony or dinner out to honor the winners.

If people have a desire to move up within the company, give them the opportunity to do so. In that way, an assembly line worker could become a manager who understands your company from the ground up and is deeply invested in the organization. Allow people to take on extra responsibilities, including auditing, equipment calibration, equipment maintenance, and more. Compensate for these added responsibilities.

In summary, it’s far more expensive to find and hire a new employee than to train, empower, and retain an existing one. As you nurture your workforce, the quality of your company’s output will continue to improve, and your customers will undoubtedly take note.

At EMS Solutions, we are proud of our employees. They are the driving force behind our second-to-none printed circuit board assembly services. We can attest to the fact that a company is only as good as its employees. A special thanks to all of our workers for generating the consistently high-quality output that we have come to be known for over the years.