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November 6, 2022

Article sponsored by Deacom ERP, an ECI software solution

The labor shortage in the food and beverage industry didn’t start with the pandemic (although increased demand for groceries has certainly exacerbated it). The need for workers – from processing and packaging machine operators, to plant supervisors and managers, to data scientists – has grown for more than a decade. And it won’t stop when the lingering effects of the pandemic finally subside – the population continues to grow and, as we like to say in the industry, “people will always need to eat.”

A lot of time, energy and money has gone into determining what companies can do to attract and retain the workforce they need to meet market demands. And the answer is that there is no easy answer. There is no quick fix that will make the problem go away, especially with an unemployment rate of 3.7%.

But there are a number of ways companies can close their existing talent gaps and position themselves better for the future. Those who succeed will be those who take a “yes and” approach, combining short, medium and long-term initiatives in what will eventually become a complete overhaul of the way they source and retain talent.

The root of the problem: Perception

The industry has a bad image with workers today. It’s been that way for some time – young people just don’t see manufacturing as a viable career in the same way their parents and grandparents did.

Here are some of the findings that reinforce this point:

When you explore the results of these surveys and others like them, you find that people’s ideas about manufacturing don’t align with today’s realities. Modern manufacturing is high-tech, involving automation, robotics, and other digital technologies. It also pays well – in the Food Processing 2021 Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey, the average salary was nearly $108,000.

But young workers don’t know this – they still view manufacturing as a boring, repetitive job rather than an exciting, fulfilling career. (See this excellent article written by a high school student on “Why Manufacturing Isn’t Cool.”)

Deloitte has done a lot of research on what they call the “age-old perception challenge,” and they’ve identified three areas that contribute to manufacturing misperceptions:

The solutions below will help you start tackling the perception challenge within your own business. By taking these steps, you will not only make your business more competitive in the talent space, but you will also help change the perception of the food and beverage industry as a whole.

Short-term solutions: What you can do to get talent through your door today

Although there is no silver bullet to attracting workers, there are fruits at hand. Here are four things you can tackle to bring talent to your doorstep today.

1. Revise your job descriptions

If your job descriptions seem to be stuck in the 1950s, job seekers will think your company is too. Indeed found that 52% of job seekers say the quality of a job description is very or extremely influential in their decision to apply for a job.

Here are five key elements that are often missing from job descriptions:

2. Simplify your application process

We live in a world where people expect things to happen quickly. This includes applying for a job – according to CareerBuilder, 42% of job seekers will abandon a difficult or confusing application, and 31% will abandon an application that takes too long. Recruitment industry thought leader Andre Mileti puts it this way, “If the application process isn’t as easy as browsing Instagram, you’ll lose.”

How to simplify your application process:

To determine sticking points in your application process, Karl Wierzbicki, vice president of marketing at user experience technology provider InFlight, recommends going through it yourself. “See how long it takes you. When you’re done, ask yourself how you felt about the experience. Then simplify the process, simplify account creation, and remove redundant and unnecessary questions.

3. Provide mentorship opportunities

Learning and development opportunities are important for young workers. Although it takes time to develop professional training programs (see below), a mentoring program can be put in place more quickly. This will help workers succeed in your organization today and grow their careers in the future, which will aid in employee retention. In fact, 79% of Millennials consider mentoring essential to career success.

These two resources will help you create a mentorship program:

You can also connect to existing mentorship programs in the industry. For example, the Food Processing Suppliers Association’s Mentor Circle “provides all members the opportunity to become a mentor or work with a mentor to further their personal and professional growth.”

4. Consider using contingent workers for project-based work

Did you know you can hire mechanical engineers on Upwork? You can also hire food scientists, food safety specialists, packaging designers… and the list goes on.

In 2021, more than 50 million people were working independently in the United States. Many of these people are highly skilled in areas where food and beverage makers need help, and you can find them on talent marketplaces like Upwork.

Review your job postings and see if any of them could be replaced, even temporarily, by an independent contractor doing project-based work. There are also over 1,000 staffing and recruiting agencies that serve the food and beverage manufacturing industry and can help you fulfill these roles.

Medium-term solutions: How to make sure you can hire the talent you need six months from now

After taking action to resolve the immediate problem, you can start looking ahead. These three solutions will help you start adapting your organization to the ways people want to work today.

1. Harness the power of your technology

Many food and beverage manufacturers have turned to technology as a means of mitigating the effects of labor shortages (see box below). But digital transformation has another advantage when it comes to labor shortages: technology attracts workers.

“As digital natives, Gen Z and Millennials are comfortable with technology and grasp it instinctively,” said Amanda Goodman, Principal Product Consultant at ECI Software Solutions. “They expect transparent technology that improves their daily work. Digital natives also value speed and expect information to be quickly accessible with the technology they have. This expectation is always a moving target. The expansion of digital natives into the majority of the workforce makes the need to leverage the right technology more important than ever. »

Technology is also changing the nature of manufacturing jobs, from repetitive manual tasks to high-tech roles that involve supervising and interacting with sophisticated machinery. Goodman notes, “In a world where it is extremely difficult to find skilled workers, companies must ensure that future retention capacity is at the heart of their concerns. Employers will want to ensure that these workers are used for impactful and rewarding initiatives rather than monotonous or error-prone tasks. This can reduce their headcount and make employees happy.

If you haven’t started your digital transformation journey yet, taking this step will not only bring you the myriad benefits of production (improved efficiency, less waste, better business intelligence, etc.), but it will also help change the perception of manufacturing to match current reality. This will in turn lead to more young people seeing manufacturing as an industry they would like to work in.

How Technology is Helping Businesses Address Labor Shortages: Q&A with Amanda Goodman, Senior Product Consultant at ECI Software Solutions

What is your assessment of the industry’s current digital maturity? How do you see that changing in the next 3-5 years?

According to Fitiv’s 2022 State of Manufacturing Report, over 90% of industry leaders are using or implementing digital manufacturing technology. According to our latest report on the state of digital transformation in manufacturing, 70% of manufacturers use an ERP solution to drive their daily operations. This number will likely increase as the industry becomes more successful.

Given the current economic climate, some manufacturers are hesitant to move forward with a digital transformation project, but refraining from supporting technological progression will only further lag the company behind. As the market evolves and faces challenges, manufacturers must use available technologies to become agile and adaptable. Engaging with emerging and evolving technologies means manufacturers won’t miss out on business opportunities due to an outdated technology stack. Now is the time to invest in technology to turn risks into rewards and capture the growth of this market, as well as that of tomorrow.

What role can software play in helping catering businesses minimize the impact of labor shortages?

Manufacturers are increasingly using enterprise resource planning (ERP) to manage and maintain business operations. ERP solutions enable businesses to do more with less and can help deliver competitive value in times of high disruption.

ERP solutions enable businesses to manage complex supply chain and inventory operations, helping them track and automate routine tasks. An integral part of this process is machine utilization monitoring, a trending technology that manufacturers are embracing. Leveraging this kind of functionality ensures manufacturers get maximum productivity from their existing machines and employees.

The flexibility and agility of these systems also allow all aspects of the business to be managed with less overhead. And, in the event of the departure of one or more team members, the ERP acts as a single source of truth and enables a seamless transition of workflows. An ERP streamlines time-consuming tasks, such as inventory management, and improves visibility at every stage of the manufacturing process. When finding and retaining skilled workers is extremely difficult, ensuring they are used for rewarding endeavors rather than tedious tasks improves the likelihood of their longevity within your organization.

What are the key things businesses need to consider for successful digital transformation?

It is important for companies to be able to think for themselves and to answer questions that go directly to the heart of their activity. Understanding pain points, growth priorities, strengths and weaknesses enables meaningful change. Without this understanding, the technology can be exploited in a way that does not exactly meet the needs or expectations.

Additionally, it is important that the software is not offered in a “one-size-fits-all” model, as it will not address the critical manufacturing specifics that make technology solutions more valuable. Centralized access to data helps avoid siled information that prevents the business from operating cohesively. For example, ERP strives to seamlessly align product supply with demand and helps increase efficiency at every stage of manufacturing.

2. Invest in training, especially for new hires

Training is key to attracting and retaining talent:

But most employers don’t provide enough – only 39% of workers say their current employer helps them improve their current skills or learn new ones.

Training is particularly important for people who are new to the labor market, because the expectations for full-time work are very different from those for school. Yet data from The State of Learning & Development (L&D) in 2022 shows that only 46% of companies have set up specific training for new graduates. This is a great opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers to set themselves apart from their competition in the war for talent by providing the support these new workers need to succeed.

3. If you don’t have career ladders, develop them

Even frontline workers starting out in low-wage hourly jobs want to advance their careers – a McKinsey survey of 2,100 frontline workers found job growth slightly above salary in their list of job needs. career advancement.

Having defined career growth paths can help you attract new employees and also reduce turnover in your existing workforce. Use this resource from the Society for Human Resource Management to guide you in developing career paths and ladders for employees.

Long-term solutions: Strategies to build your skills pipeline for the future

Now let’s look further down the road. The strategies above will put you on the right track, but only long-term change will ensure you have the talent you need to thrive for many years to come. These three solutions will require a little more investment, but they will be largely amortized.

1. Change your organizational culture to align with what younger workers want

This is probably the hardest – and most important – step you can take. As you probably know, millennials have different job expectations than any generation before them. And Generation Z is even more different.

Gallup has done extensive research on the subject and identified six key factors that highlight the difference between the past and the future of work.

The Past and Future of Work

Frame taken from Gallup’s “How Millennials Want to Work and Live”

The past

The future

What it means

Transitioning the way your organization operates from the past to the future will not be easy. But it is also not necessary to do everything at once. Think of it as a long term journey where each step decreases the distance to perfection. These resources will help:

2. Focus on improving your employer brand

What is your company’s reputation in the workforce? Do people like working for you? If you don’t know, now is a good time to find out. Check your company’s reviews on Glassdoor, Indeed, and Blind. The vast majority (86%) of employees and job seekers read company reviews and ratings when deciding where to apply for a job, so make sure your company is doing its best.

Developing a positive employer brand can take time. But, again, you don’t have to do it all at once, and even small steps can be meaningful. Here are some resources to guide you:

3. Partner with high schools, colleges, and universities for career fairs and internships

A few years ago, I interviewed several young professionals about their experience in the food industry. I also spoke with someone who worked at a university in Chicago to place engineering graduates in jobs. The message was loud and clear: the food industry does not partner with schools and reach out to students in the same way as other industries.

One of the best ways to get young people into the manufacturing industry is to reach out to them as they make career choices. Attend job fairs, invite students to visit your factory and develop internship programs – these activities will help ensure that you have a full talent pool for years to come.

The labor shortage in the food and beverage industry did not happen overnight and will not disappear overnight. But, by taking these steps, food and beverage companies can fill their currently open roles and future pipelines with the talent they need to succeed.

In response to higher menu prices, consumers typically opt for lower-priced items, reduce the number of items ordered, or reduce restaurant visits altogether, according to Portalatin.

What jobs won’t exist in 2030?

5 jobs that will disappear by 2030

  • Travel agent. It amazes me that a travel agent is still a job in 2020. …
  • Taxi drivers. …
  • Store cashiers. …
  • Fast food cooks. …
  • Administrative legal jobs.

What job will be in demand in 2030? The main areas of greatest demand will be cloud storage, data management and information security, the BLS predicts. As a result, some of the fastest growing tech jobs include information security analysts (33% growth) and computer and information researchers (22% growth).

Why are so many restaurants short staffed?

Restaurants are now facing the grim reality that they are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic with fewer long-term workers, as many had to downsize at the start of the shutdowns.

Why are all fast food restaurants understaffed? Low wages and benefits In addition to tips, restaurant workers need incentives such as signing bonuses, paid time off, and meal shifts to become more competitive and stay on the job longer. Poor pay and lack of benefits can lead to a shortage of fast food workers and catering staff.

Why is the restaurant industry struggling to find workers? Restaurant operators expect the labor shortage to continue at least until 2022. 7 in 10 operators say they do not have enough employees to meet customer demand. Workers left the industry in droves, seeking better pay and less harassment from customers.

Why is there a shortage of employees everywhere? The pandemic has caused a major disruption to the American workforce, what many have called the Great Resignation. In 2021, more than 47 million workers left their jobs, many of whom were in search of better work-life balance and greater flexibility, increased compensation and a strong company culture .

Why is there a labor shortage in the us 2022?

Overall, about a quarter of the labor shortage appears to be related to immigration. Migrant flows, both legal and illegal, were severely disrupted by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. (Data for 2022 is not available as migrant employment is not measured month-to-month. )

Is there a labor shortage in 2022? Labor shortages and the supply chain crisis are fueling the 2022 Top States for Business battle. With millions more job openings than workers to fill them, companies are looking for states with the best workforce. Fixing the broken national supply chain is a national priority as inflation rises.

Why restaurant failure rate is so high?

Ignoring food costs is one of the main reasons that restaurant failure rates are so high. Take the time to count inventory, find your COGS numbers, manage your orders, and more. It will make all the difference. You can also use restaurant technology to do it for you.

Why Do Restaurant Businesses Fail? Inexperience Although there are no hurdles in the industry, lack of business acumen, lack of management and lack of financial planning among entry-level restaurateurs are some of the main reasons for the restaurant failure.

What is the #1 reason restaurants fail? 1. Lack of vision. According to the Cornell University study “Why Restaurants Fail”, restaurants close because their management lacks a clear vision for the restaurant. A restaurant’s mission statement and vision are not limited to its concept and menu, they should be at the center of every business decision.

Why do restaurants have a high failure rate? About 60% of new restaurants fail within the first year. And nearly 80% shutter before their fifth birthday. Often the #1 reason is simply the location – and the general lack of self-awareness that you don’t belong there.