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Surviving the Great Resignation


Surviving the Great Resignation



A rapidly decreasing number of technical personnel are available who can install and maintain the higher-end equipment used in manufacturing today.  “The great resignation and/or retirement” movement, along with changes associated with the recent pandemic landscape, has sent many highly qualified workers to the exits in search of new and often altogether different opportunities.  The stage has been set for decades with the wave of baby boomer retirements churning towards manufacturers.  Parallel to this has been the increased reliance on high-tech manufacturing machines and processes.  These two situations pair well with the idea of future-proofing low-to-mid complexity manufacturing but, in an interesting juxtaposition, amplify the core problem.

How are companies supposed to balance this?  Labor shortages are not exclusive to skilled trades, but industrial employers face especially significant challenges given the amount of time it takes to train staff to maintain today’s equipment and systems.  As the modern workforce becomes more mobile- many estimates indicating that three years is the current average tenure- employers are left with a conundrum of whether to invest internally in the highest tech positions on the organizational chart.  Should employers only search for personnel who are 100% qualified to maintain all their technical equipment immediately upon hire date?  Is that even possible given that most factories are a menagerie of equipment of different makes and vintages that is unique to only their site?  Alternately, should employers invest heavily in new hires only to achieve a minimal return before their team member moves on to greener pastures?

Unique problems generate unique solutions and successful control systems integrators like ECS Solutions (ECS) bring a variety of solutions to address the challenges.  One leading solution that clients of ECS have leveraged for a long time is their Technical Service Contracts.  Industry has embraced outsourcing services for all types of things like maintenance of uniform & clothing, safety equipment, fire suppression systems, pest control, IT systems, and more.  The ECS team has developed ways to propagate this type of solution down to your automated electrical and instrumentation systems.  These contracts allow clients to leverage ECS’ extensive troubleshooting, training, and technical task management skills, usually associated with larger projects, on a more regular basis.  The result is a flexible, recurring arrangement that places highly qualified personnel inside of their facilities alongside their internal staff at a ratio of time and personnel that fits their needs.

The typical service contract arrangements define the level and frequency of support that they receive.   The ECS Technical Services Manager (TSM) works directly with the client to identify their needs and inventory the onsite assets in terms of the direct employees.  They also work to establish priority and frequency standards for regular or recurring tasks.  With this information, the TSM can build a staffing solution that interlaces seamlessly with the client’s situation.  This allows ECS to interchangeably provide staff with complementary skills as well as people to address gaps that exist within the client’s structure.  Then the TSM administers the marshaling of tasks into meaningful groups and determines who from ECS will execute the requisite work on an ongoing basis.  Clients receive the best-qualified personnel for specific work, whether it requires a technician, engineer, or computer/software support-centric teammate.  Thus, clients begin to immediately reap benefits from having the most qualified staff handling technical tasks on a regular basis without having to hire and train the team themselves.  The depth of the team at ECS also protects their clients from situations where the absence of an internal staff member due to remote work requirements or quarantine would normally upset progress on tasks.  The power of the team is immediately visible as are the benefits.

Perhaps equally compelling are how the ECS team interacts with client teams and how excess hours are frequently utilized.  Most contracts include provisions to use ECS team members as troubleshooting assistance.   This is extremely valuable as many clients now realize that contract partners receive priority support, much like one would expect with warranty situations.  Beyond that support, the ECS team operates on a principle of teaching their clients’ teams to be increasingly self-sufficient wherever possible.  Since the ECS team is rarely engaged full time with any one client, it behooves them to collaborate with the client to develop internal staff who can handle regular and support tasks as well.  Clients report that the ECS team works quite harmoniously with internal staff, both solving problems and teaching partners’ staff as they go.  A true multi-level benefit is generated every time the teams collaborate as the client’s staff grows and learns alongside the ECS experts.

Higher turnover will be the norm in manufacturing for the next generation.  The most successful manufacturers will be the “most successful” by embracing this reality and adjusting their cultures to include a different mixture of internal and external support than prior generations had to.  Just as clients evaluate their next equipment and systems purchases and immediately check the box to add a support contract, they should strongly consider how the balance of their plants and systems could benefit from a similar arrangement that is available from a true partner like ECS Solutions.

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