Smart Solutions Series: Tackling the Talent Shortage with Culture



recruit-retain-workers.jpgThe past year has been especially trying for manufacturers, bringing new problems to light while intensifying existing challenges like employee engagement and the growing talent shortage. In speaking with manufacturers around Michigan, it is apparent that this lack of skilled help is holding many back from returning their operations to normal and reaching their full potential.

To give manufacturers insight on how to tackle issues with engagement and retention, our team at The Center recently hosted the first virtual panel discussion in our ongoing Smart Solutions Series. Amy Forehand of The Forehand Company joined us to discuss the ways in which leadership, values and culture can dramatically improve aspects such as productivity, attraction and turnover. Below are a few of the key topics explored:

  • If my company is aware that our culture needs improving, where do we start? Everything is rooted in the organizational strategy – this guides the company’s values, beliefs and practices, which ultimately contribute to business outcomes. Consider questions such as, What makes your company unique? What are your values and beliefs? What behaviors are creating positive/negative experiences for workers? With this in mind, make adjustments that will improve the employee experience and use business outcomes as a gauge for how well your culture is driving performance.
  • How can my company become an employer of choice? Competitive pay and benefits are still important when it comes to attracting and retaining workers. However, workers are now seeking reward in different ways – such as respect, satisfaction, acceptance, autonomy, etc. Providing these benefits to workers is a great step toward becoming an employer of choice.
  • We’ve found that a lot of potential candidates would rather stay unemployed than fill our positions. What can we do about this? As explained above, your value proposition can make or break your company’s reputation, in turn having a significant impact on recruitment and retention. Workers will be more attracted to companies that prioritize aspects like developing talent and rewarding performance than those that only mention things like salary. Creating employee buy-in, where workers feel they are an essential part in reaching company goals, also helps with engagement, motivation and loyalty.
  • We often have new hires leave very early into their first shifts. How can we ensure new workers will want to stay long-term? Look at your onboarding process through the eyes of your employees and ask yourself, Would this make me want to leave or stay? Document every single experience they have from the moment they walk in the door and find areas that can be improved. Ensure workers know exactly what to expect in your facility by giving them a full tour and explanation of processes immediately so there are no surprises.

View a recording of our first Smart Solutions Series webinar on culture here.

Building a better company culture not only makes a difference in business results, but also in workers’ lives. Learn more about how to improve your culture by attending one of our upcoming classes focused on culture or contact to get in touch with one of our experts.

Be sure to join us at our next virtual Smart Solutions Series event February 17 from 9 am to 10 am when we’ll discuss how Lean principles can be applied to solve talent shortage issues.


Headley_J-web.jpgJamie Headley, Director of Business Development
Jamie Headley is Director of Sales at The Center’s Plymouth office. In her role, Jamie oversees client engagements and ensures manufacturers throughout Michigan receive the services and support they need. Jamie is a seasoned operations professional with expertise in change management, strategic planning, leadership, process improvement, lean implementations, cost containment and operational excellence. 


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at


Categories: Leadership/Culture, workforce