In 2020, HR leadership in Minnesota’s manufacturing industry have been hit hard by three waves of change as a result of COVID-19.
- The first wave – a virtual tsunami of health and safety documentation.
- The second wave – the unanticipated expansion of product lines to include medically necessary products, which meant more workers needed to be hired.
- The third wave – a deluge of desperate, sometimes unqualified job applicants inundating the HR inbox with applications.
As Fall approaches, a 4th wave of change is emerging. Many clients of Moffat Workforce are preparing for continued volatility in their manufacturing workforce. Moffat Workforce predicts supplemental staff will be needed when existing workers are absent to handle the distance-learning needs of children, as illness impacts loved ones, or as COVID test results extend quarantine and sick leaves. The 4th wave will require reserve staffing readiness.
Through it all, Minnesota manufacturing companies are increasingly relying on their staffing agency account manager to secure better workers and ensure worker health and safety compliance so they can keep their production lines moving.
Not surprisingly, the State of MN has also defined staffing agencies as essential workers. Let's find out why.
Meet Your New HR Essential Worker: The Staffing Agency Account Manager
Third-party staffing recruiters are nothing new, but COVID has changed the relationship, the type of work, and the speed of work being done by staffing agencies. For the busy HR department, having a trusted account manager to lean on can make an overwhelming job more manageable.
Meet Natalie Peckman, an account manager at Moffat Workforce. She shared four areas where HR teams have adapted to succeed during the pandemic.
She’s seen first-hand the challenges faced by Minnesota manufacturers as they seek staffing solutions in a COVID world.
“As staffing partners, the work we do is critical to helping manufacturers get their products out the door – to get PPE to medical providers, to get ventilator parts out there.
“We’ve always sold ourselves on the value we provided to clients by taking things off their plate, like sourcing and vetting applicants and onboarding. But now that our HR clients are, many of them, working 60 or 70 hours a week or working from home, their reliance on me has substantially increased.
“I’ve become a trusted partner not only for getting reliable workers, but also helping to safeguard their plant from a COVID outbreak."
- New Worker Orientation & COVID Safety Training
“I’m the person who meets the new worker at the door of the client facility on their first day. I take new staff through client training apps, get them set up at the jobsite, take them on a tour of the facility. Orientation may have been done by HR before, but for some of my clients this Moffat Workforce service enables HR to work remotely or attend to other demands.
“I’m at different client sites often during the week, following up with new hires and working with site supervisors to ensure people are following the rules. I do safety training. I explain the company’s COVID policies, when to report illness, how to report possible COVID exposure."
- COVID Compliance
“I do a lot more work tracking workers who call in sick. We have to find out what’s wrong with them. Do they need a COVID test? Do they need to quarantine? This would be very time consuming for our clients’ HR departments if they had to do it.
“Sometimes workers get frustrated because they don’t ‘feel’ sick, but it’s my job to protect the company, its other employees, and its product line. Moffat has always specialized in working with medical device manufacturers so we understand the needs of companies with clean rooms. Some of our manufacturing clients have added new COVID-related manufacturing that requires that same degree of caution.
“I need to protect our workers, too. A lot of job candidates are very anxious about returning to work right now. They may live with elderly parents and they don’t want to bring the virus home to their family. I need to be able to reassure them that the company we are sending them to is safe.
“I do that by making sure they understand the safety policies themselves, that they are using masks, that they see the sanitation work being done on the job site. I show them how to wipe down their work surfaces. I do a lot more hand-holding now, providing emotional support."
Workers are afraid of losing their jobs if they report possible COVID exposure. I understand that fear. But for the sake of that worker, their coworkers, and the company, they need to comply with reporting requirements. I work to develop trusting relationships with the workers I place so they know I have their best interest at heart.
- Candidate Vetting
“We’re in a really different employment environment now. A lot of talent was lost when experienced workers had to go home to care for kids, or from layoffs. Now we’re seeing a large number of less experienced applicants.
“With so many people shifting careers and looking for work, we have to screen out a much higher percentage of applicants. Where we used to see 50% of our applicants as a good fit for a position, we are now seeing 5% of applicants being good candidates. We’ve never seen anything like this before.
“Wading through the applicant pool has to be done fast. Good candidates go quickly! It’s a much, much faster pace to take a candidate from identification to placement."
- Investing in Coaching Workers for Success
“For some of my clients I do something most staffing agencies don’t do, that’s especially important for a less experienced workforce or those who switched from a service job to a manufacturing job. I do a lot of coaching for success.
“At Moffat Workforce, we use performance metrics. I meet with the production supervisor to go over the employee’s performance. I look at the metrics and I use that feedback for coaching."
Natalie’s coaching efforts have resulted in a significantly lower worker turnover rate for those clients to 1/10th that of the average staffing agency.
In summary, HR teams in manufacturing can increase their productivity, their operational readiness, and their ability to keep essential staff virus-free by partnering with a company like Moffat Workforce to supplement their core HR services. Learn how Moffat Workforce can help your organization continue to thrive by calling Natalie at (651) 253-8542.