Besieged by a perfect storm of new technology, Brexit and coronavirus, the UK manufacturing industry has had it harder than many.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce, two-thirds of UK companies are struggling to find new recruits, with production and manufacturing most lacking.

So, where exactly are things going wrong? The simple answer is to blame the skills gap or a generational crossover, but these are surface-level issues. Recruitment in fact has many parallels with PR: putting out the right message to engage the right audience.

Where authenticity and recruitment meet

How many times have you cringed at a job advert that asks for the world and offers ‘perks’ such as free tea and coffee or a “competitive salary”? These are neither unique nor are they genuine perks.

When recruiting, you need to consider your business values. This may bring up connotations of tradition or old-fashioned practices, but values can be tailored to the next generation of talent and are in fact what many would-be recruits are looking for from an employer. You just need to align your values with the demands of the next generation. For example:

Personal development
With Industry 4.0, manufacturing is evolving at a rapid rate. So, if your business counts a commitment to learning among its core values, this is an important message to communicate. However, it isn’t just about investing in the latest technology, but also in the ongoing personal development of your employees.
Skills and career advancement are one of Generation Z’s biggest motivators, so be clear about career progression opportunities in your communication and practise what you preach. Consider apprentice programmes or on-the-job training and offer this as a true ‘perk’ in your job descriptions.

While Gen Zs value learning and development enormously, they also favour job security. By committing to innovation, your company can reassure this generation that it will move with the times and keep more people in work as a result. So, how can you practise what you preach with this one? It doesn’t mean throwing money at the problem. Consider initiatives such as:
Switching to more sustainable suppliers
Introducing JIT manufacturing and other Industry 4.0 technologies 
Partnering with schemes such as Innovate UK to secure funding for the above or looking into your R&D tax credit eligibility.

Customer service
Whatever the generation, customer service is something that never goes out of style. Certainly, we can modernise this for the digital age, be that an e-commerce website or faster delivery, but it still comes down to the people.
“Your vibe attracts your tribe” is something of a cheesy truism, but you will attract like-minded people. So, make your commitment to customer service known: publish case studies to demonstrate it in practice and include them in your job advertisements. No recruit wants to hear how many years you’ve been in business – they want to see your company in action and the results you’ve delivered.
Remember, a job ad is your chance to sell yourself and a case study approach will help your business stand out.

Above all, practise what you preach

There is nothing worse than a brand that preaches values and does not act on them. We’ve seen tone-deaf advertising from global companies and a lack of self-awareness, from boardrooms to the way they treat employees.
You can do this by continually measuring and reviewing your working practices, from staff engagement surveys to technology updates and personal development progress. If you have evidence of your values in action, you’ll be able to promote your business as a trustworthy, authentic brand to work for, and the talent will come.

To find out more about communicating brand authenticity, contact Partners today on 01904 610077.

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