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Millennials Don’t Like Manufacturing… and That’s a Problem for the Whole Industry


America’s manufacturing industry continues to be central to our overall economy, comprising 12% of the GDP, but the industry is facing a looming workforce shortage. As Baby Boomers continue to retire, the gaps they leave behind don’t get filled quickly — or at all.

The Looming Workforce Shortage in the Manufacturing Sector

It’s no secret that Millennials don’t like manufacturing jobs. Not only do they see the jobs as low-pay, labor-intensive occupations, manufacturing also lacks the “cool factor” that tech jobs offer. However, in order to succeed, manufacturing companies must convince Millennials that jobs in their sector are high tech, skilled labor positions. The best way to do that is to provide software that speaks to Millennials.

In the next decade, analysts predict that 3.5 million jobs will open up in the manufacturing sector, but 2.5 million will remain unfilled. Don’t put your company in danger by overlooking the needs of Millennial workers, instead appeal to them with up-to-date, effective software featuring these 10 attributes:

1. Business Intelligence and Analytics

We all know that computers were invented to provide faster analytics and calculations than humans could accomplish, and Millennials expect that their software will save them time by performing advanced calculations for them. Millennial-friendly software should be able to crunch numbers and provide easy-to-read graphical reports and dashboards that communicate real-time information, as well as pass critical information to the next shift.

2. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

Currently, 63% of manufacturing companies allow their employees to bring and use their devices at work. After all, it increases productivity, creates a more mobile workforce, and helps employees keep up with important notifications. Plus, it keeps Millennials happier because they really don’t like having to shut down their phones. However, unclear BYOD policies introduce security dangers into the workplace, due to unauthorized data sharing and increased vulnerability to hackers, so work with your IT department to tighten up security before expanding BYOD access.

3. Push Notifications and Alerts

Gone are the days in which we must manually check email and voicemails; today’s systems deliver contact notifications to us immediately — and smartphones inform their owners about a whole range of updates from various apps. Like smartphone notifications, modern ERP software should feature “push” notifications that automatically inform Millennial employees about important events such as large orders, inventory shortages, or upcoming deadlines.

4. Shared Single Source of Data

These days, manufacturers tend to have multiple sites for inventory, operations, and production. With a shared, single source of data, accessible anywhere and at any time, Millennial workers will be able to view inventory and work in progress, no matter where they are, so they can optimize shipping and production accordingly.

5. Integrated Dashboards

Smartphones are the ultimate all-in-one device, and Millennials expect the software they use to integrate easily and effectively, much like it does on their phones. Create all-in-one dashboards that connect your enterprise resource planning (ERP), warehouse management system (WMS), and customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions for the one-stop access that Millennials expect.

6. On-Demand Training

Like all new employees, Millennials have a lot to learn. However, they tend to learn best from computer programs and on-demand learning that fits their schedule. Business software systems that integrate with computer-based learning programs can bring the deep knowledge of your Baby Boomer employees to your knowledge-hungry Millennial employees, either right when they need the information (using a Google-like universal search feature), or when they have a slow day.

7. Mobility

Companies should do their best to take advantage of a workforce that’s happy to work any time of day, anywhere in the world, but instead, they tend to view Millennials’ interest in flexible telecommuting options as something suspicious. Sorry, but flexible work is usually non-negotiable if you want to attract top Millennial minds, so it’s crucial that you provide mobile-ready software enabling your workforce to complete tasks remotely at least some of the time.

8. Real-Time KPIs

It’s no secret that Millennials thrive on constant feedback. The good news is that, unlike Generation X, Millennials take feedback to heart, using it to fine-tune their work so they can constantly improve. If you provide business software systems such as ERP, WMS, or CRM that offer real-time, customizable KPIs, Millennials will be happy to tailor these to match their professional goals as well as overall business performance metrics. Once they can see how they’re doing, they’re likely to exceed your expectations.

9. Customization

Not only will Millennials fine-tune KPIs, they’ll also fine-tune everything they do so they can increase their productivity without wasting time. Because they’re used to customizable smartphone screens and cases, and even customizable video gaming characters, your Millennial employees will expect to modify your business software to meet their needs, interests, and preferences. Appeal to them with personalized skins, home screens, and dashboards.

10. Collaboration

One would expect a generation that grew up with social media and smartphones in their pockets to collaborate well, and those of us who have children know that Millennials tend to communicate more quickly and effectively over text or Twitter than they do in person. Consider creating an at-work, private social network for your employees, such as Yammer or Slack, to keep your Millennial workforce productive, connected, and efficient.

Build a System that Engages Millennials

Savvy employers are fast realizing that Millennials make great employees. Not only are Millennials devoted to the companies they choose to work for, they also work hard, put in long hours, and continually seek to brainstorm better, more efficient methods and procedures for their employers. However, they work differently than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

Today’s business software was created so that older employees, used to doing manual tasks, could improve their productivity at work with the help of machines. The new generation, after growing up with computers, expects more from technology. Here at PeopleSense, we’re experts at connecting technology to the needs of the people it serves.


Contact PeopleSense to learn how we can help you tailor a system that engages and excites Millennial employees, and keeps your manufacturing business running smoothly.