“We’re seeing a generational shift in what people want out of work.” We sat down with VP of Supply Chain at GE Appliances, Bill Good, to get his take on navigating today’s challenges in manufacturing and distribution.
Here are the highlights from the Shift Talk episode:
Adapting to a Changing Workforce
As more Baby Boomers and Gen Xers retire, post-pandemic, it’s brought about new challenges and opportunities. Millennials and Gen Z are generations that value work-life balance, competitive compensation, and a supportive work culture. This shift is driving significant changes in workplace dynamics.
To recruit and retain the next generation Bill says, “This is an area that will be the biggest challenge we’ll face over the next decade. And those who have a creative, innovative approach to hire and retain associates will win. And those that continue with the same mindset, they’ll struggle.”
Innovative Work Programs at GE Appliances
How can manufacturing and supply chain companies respond to these changes in worker expectations? GE Appliances is thinking outside the box and reshaping its work environment to put workers first.
- Offers a mix of full and half shifts to attract workers from all walks of life. Stay-at-home parents, semi-retirees, and college students who are looking for reliable work but need flexibility in their schedules.
- Operates as an on-ramp to full-time employment.
Addressing Transportation Issues:
- Partnering with services like Lyft to ease commuting challenges.
- Offers a monthly stipend employees can use when their normal transportation is unavailable. The cost associated with this program is more than offset by the cost of losing a worker for the day.
Engagement with Immigrant Communities:
- Creating new employment opportunities for immigrants by partnering with local churches, charities, and local support groups.
Manufacturing Has Some Work to Do
Bill has an honest assessment of the industry as a whole. “I think the part that manufacturers are missing is we need to do a better job with our branding to newer generations. The career paths and opportunities in manufacturing exceed anything they’re going to find in food service or retail.”
- There’s an immense potential for growth and pay within manufacturing and distribution.
- Talk more about the educational opportunities available with the company – Certifications, Degree Programs, Skill Accumulation, etc.
- Show the changes manufacturers are making to their facilities to make them cleaner, safer, and more technology-driven.
Change is Hard
Introducing these programs involved overcoming 100 years of how workers in manufacturing are viewed. Skepticism and a reluctance to “give in” needed to change. GE Appliances decided they were going to adopt a new mindset that puts people first.
“I think we had to show the success of these programs to that frontline leader and open up their minds to what different looks like. Because honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever go back. I think this is a new normal.”
GE Appliances is looking to the future with a focus on comprehensive employee care to attract and retain their most valuable asset – their workforce. This includes aspects like childcare, housing, and career development. They aim to continue GE’s legacy of innovation in the manufacturing industry, and so far, they seem to be doing just that.