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Engagement & Retention

Alfred Spada

Worker engagement and retention is a hot subject in today’s workplace. With the transition of our workforce from the baby boomers to the X, Y and millennial generations, employers must adjust their approach to recruiting and engaging current and potential workers to ensure stability and long-term success.

As stated in this issue’s CEO Journal column by Dan Marcus on p. 36,  “Now it’s always been the case that many who come to work in metalcasting wash out in the first few hours or days, but given today’s economic and social realities, we no longer have the luxury of complacency about low retention rates.  Instead, we need to do our very best to make every new hire a successful long-term employee.”

Through our Metalcaster of the Year article, “Eagle Alloy’s Sustainable Solutions,” on p. 16, this issue examines the Muskegon, Mich., metalcaster’s unique corporate responsibility initiatives. This metalcaster has established an onsite health care clinic, helped build recycling programs for sand and methane gas, and regularly participates in community education programs. While not all these programs directly affect worker retention, the prevailing belief in today’s human resources (and studies are beginning to prove it) is that corporate social responsibility is a key to retaining the new generations of employees.

“Muskegon had a lot of philanthropists going back to the early 20th century,” said Mark Fazakerley, co-owner of Eagle Group. “A lot of the big companies have since moved out, which created a bit of a vacuum for many years. That is a motivating factor for us.  We are from Muskegon—and it’s been important for us to be a part of the community.”

While Eagle Alloy’s educational outreach can be viewed as philanthropy on behalf of the metalcasting industry, the other initiatives have improved the firm’s performance and bolstered its workforce. This ultimately is the best win-win for any organization looking to develop sustainable solutions as a foundation for the future.

The reality of the low-profit margin, job-shop nature of metalcasting facilities is that fully automated manufacturing plants will not be possible for everyone.  As a result, our industry will rely on a human workforce for the foreseeable future to produce our engineered cast components.

As Marcus wrote, “Instead of waiting for the return of yesterday’s workers, metalcasters need to gear up to hire and retain today’s unemployed and under-employed.  And doing so requires a renewed emphasis on retention, as most of these prospective employees will need a lot of help after they are hired in order to become successful at work.”

A key to this retention will be how you engage your workers.