3 Workforce Challenges That Haunt Manufacturing Organizations

Manufacturing supervisor coaching operator

We all have specific aspects of our jobs that tend to keep us up at night. For those in HR, the fear often comes when it’s time for open enrollment and benefits admin. Payroll managers likely experience similar feelings when incorrect paychecks are issued. For those working in frontline manufacturing operations, there are 3 common issues that may be haunting you.

The good news is, in many cases workforce management technology can help address these challenges and put your fears to rest.

1.    Skilled talent shortages

It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry has a very serious problem when it comes to the workforce. In fact, according to the 2019 2nd Quarter Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, 68.8% of respondents cite inability to find skilled workers as a top challenge. A separate study done by Deloitte estimates that the skills gap may cause 2.4 million positions to go unfilled between now and 2028, with a potential economic impact of $2.5 trillion. Now that’s a frightening statistic!

To address this problem, manufacturers must focus on retaining their existing workforce and innovate when it comes to their talent acquisition strategies. One way to do this is to create a differentiated employee experience by implementing technology that addresses the needs of the workforce. This can be accomplished by providing employees with more flexibility and input into their schedules, delivering personal performance insights, and empowering employees with real-time data to make their jobs easier. This can be done from their preferred mobile device, at home or on the plant floor.   

2.    Excess and unnecessary overtime

When demand is high and available labor is low, overtime is an essential part of manufacturing operations. During difficult times when the focus shifts from high production to cost reductions and preserving cash, excess overtime can be a detriment to operations. What makes it even more of a challenge is that it’s virtually impossible to see without the proper tools in place. Without visibility into the root cause of the overtime, there is no way to take corrective action.

With intelligent automation, managers can receive proactive notifications to alert them when one of their employees is approaching overtime. This allows managers to make necessary scheduling changes in the moment. Not only that, but the technology can suggest replacement employees who can backfill using regular time to avoid unnecessary overtime. These real-time insights and recommendations can help frontline managers focus on strategic priorities, instead of dealing with an overtime nightmare.

3.    Labor costing inaccuracies 

With labor being one of the largest, controllable expenses in many manufacturing organizations, it’s critical that these costs are accurately tracked and allocated. However, the complexity of modern operations makes assigning time to production lines and work orders a scary proposition. Without accurate job costing, you’re left with inconsistent labor standards and potential cost overruns.      

Workforce management technology can help by giving you easy-to-use tools to accurately allocate time to specific production activities and provide managers with real-time insight into this data. This ensures accurate job costing, so you can redefine your labor standards for peak efficiency and increased profit margins. Not to mention, the heightened visibility into data gives management a better understanding of where their employees are spending their time and identify opportunities to drive continuous improvement and maximize productivity.


With so much disruption and uncertainty currently occurring in the manufacturing industry, it’s more important than ever to quickly address these challenges in order to remain competitive and ensure future success. This starts with prioritizing investments that provide enhanced insight into your business and support delivering a differentiated employee experience. 


To learn how workforce management technology can help, check out this webinar.