Randy Heisler, vice president of Life Cycle Engineering, a consulting firm serving private industry, public entities and government organizations, chats with Amanda Del Buono about retirement and how manufacturers can better prepare for their retiring workforce and incoming new workers.
The following is an excerpt from the interview. Read the full transcript here.
Amanda: So, whether people are retiring in droves or it's just one or two people at a time, organizations should have a plan in place. But, what challenges can manufacturers be expecting when their longtime workforce retires as they set in place a plan? What should they be anticipating?
Randy: Well, it's like I said a minute ago. New hires coming in, depending on where they've come from, whether they're new to the workforce, just simply don't have experience. They've not been there and done that, in many cases, it could be their first real job, right? But, just as an example, let's say on the maintenance side of things, in trying to maintain equipment, you've got someone new that comes in that, like I've mentioned that there's no one there, or no one left, or not enough people left to teach them how to do things, so repairs take longer, right? So, companies that we're dealing with today, that is one big complaint. It's like, "Gosh, we've lost all the experience. We've got good people, okay, but they just don't know how to do it. It's their first time in making a particular repair," or something of that nature. And, it takes longer. Just like, you have professionals out in the world that seem to make things look easy and jobs go quickly, where someone that has not done it before can take two or three times as long. So, organizations are challenged with that for sure.
Also, let's say on the operations side, in operating the equipment as an example, variability creeps in. You've got folks that are just learning how to run the equipment and may bring their own previous experience, or even in, like I said, that lack of experience creates variability. So, you don't have, that's a term we use, that they may not have standard work in place or are not familiar with what that standard work might be. So, they're doing their best but those create some variability in the operation, which, at the end of the day, can affect the output and quality, things like that. So, mistakes increase. People that we work with are dealing with that quite often is that they can't get what we call first-pass yield because, simply, people are making mistakes. And so, they have to work through that over time, and over time, they get there. And, like I said, they get good people but they just haven't done that particular thing before.
The other unfortunate thing is that, oftentimes injuries increase there. People are saying, "Gosh, our safety performance just isn't what it used to be." And, once again, it's from that lack of experience. So, that one can be a real major challenge for folks. I think one of the real challenges, though, is to capture the knowledge of those senior folks before they retire. And, it's hard to believe, and I think it depends on the situation, but people aren’t always willing to share what they've learned. Maybe on their way out the door, they feel more comfortable sometimes, but, you know, their knowledge has often been a safety net. That, you know, the old adage that knowledge is power. And so, yeah, they sometimes keep that close and aren't super willing to share it.