September 28

Retaining your industrial workforce: Eight effective strategies for the industrial market

By Melynie A. Wagner, HR Manager

Retaining productive, quality employees is a primary concern for industrial business executives. Even if your company offers the best possible hourly wages, retaining industrial workers amid a labor shortage can be very challenging. A reliable retention program is critical to attract and retain quality employees, reduce turnover, and save costs. 

Manhattan Mechanical’s employment package has an established reputation among craft workers, offering the highest merit shop wages in the area and the best health benefits. Manhattan Mechanical is known to have the highest standards in safety, quality, and productivity.

Here are eight strategies that have worked for our company to retain industrial workers:

1. All employees are company people.

At Manhattan Mechanical, everyone is a part of the team and feels appreciated and recognized for their efforts. Check out this video to hear it directly from our team.

We are a fast-growing company, and attract local talent by offering opportunities for career advancement in the industrial mechanical industry. We are currently the only merit shop industrial mechanical contractor with growth potential in the market.

2. Offer competitive wages and excellent benefits. 

It’s essential to market your company competitively by offering higher pay and excellent benefits. Manhattan Mechanical Services provides paid vacation, outstanding medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, as well as AD&D (accidental death and dismemberment) coverage. We also offer supplemental life insurance, short-term and long-term disability policies for employees to purchase, along with AFLAC and pet insurance policies. 

Manhattan Mechanical also has a 401k program with company matching available to employees, along with employee profit-sharing.  

3. An ESOP designed to allow employees to become owners

Manhattan Mechanical Services is an Employee Stock Ownership Program company. Manhattan Mechanical’s ESOP results in increased productivity and profitability. Our ESOP creates the opportunity for wealth creation for the employees who have contributed to the company’s success. According to The ESOP Association, employee-ownership improves American competitiveness, increases workplace productivity, and maximizes human potential (Bizzjournals, 2019). Customer service is readily cultivated in an ESOP environment. That’s because our team has a vested interest in the Manhattan Mechanical organization, the work we produce — and the success of that work for our industrial partners (Bizzjournals, 2019).

4. Offer opportunities for advancement 

One key to retention is the hours worked per employee per year. We try to keep work in front of employees, so they have an opportunity to work at least 2,000 hours per year — a delicate balance, so we don’t over-hire. Continuing to grow the company each year creates opportunities for advancement, which are tied to NCCER certifications. Manhattan Mechanical is a learning organization, and employees are directly involved in continuous improvement of organizational processes, procedures, and employee-recognition programs and incentives. Craft employees are required to meet the criteria to be eligible for a promotion.

5. A strong knowledge of the market we serve

It’s essential to understand the market you serve. Not only do client needs change with time, but so does the entire landscape we serve. Being the first in your area to provide a particular product service or opportunity can give you a significant competitive advantage. 

Our management team has been working in the Chicago market for over 30 years. Our president started the first merit shop industrial contracting company in Chicago.

6. Dedicated recruitment professional

We have a dedicated recruiter and an applicant-tracking system to capture and screen candidates. We have run national and regional ad campaigns on radio, print ads, and industrial craft publications.

Once screened by the ATS (Applicant Tracking System), the recruiter prequalifies applicants and tells the Manhattan Mechanical Services story. Qualified candidates will move to a skills interview with operations and usually the president.

7. An effective onboarding and training program

Once selected for hire, Manhattan Mechanical has a 40-hour onboarding and orientation process. All new hires are craft-assessed, uniformed, and tooled up, while receiving site-specific training as part of our process.

We recognize the labor shortage and, therefore, have invested heavily in growing our own craftsmen. We have a proven system to develop local talent and leverage workforce initiatives to grow local talent. Training takes about one year for a certified scaffold builder, two years for a mechanic, three for a B Welder, four for a pipefitter, and five for an A Welder. We shorten some of this time by hiring from outside welding programs, such as the Midwest Technical Institute, Joliet Junior College, Prairie State College, the Calumet Welding Center, the Grundy Area Vocational Center, the Wilco Area Career Center, and students from the Associated Builders and Contractors.

8. Ensuring the safety of your workers

It is Manhattan Mechanical’s goal that all employees achieve the highest level of success possible. Employees deserve an opportunity to receive honest feedback and a reasonable amount of time to take corrective action with any performance deficiencies. 

Manhattan Mechanical Services has policies and practices in effect and expects our employees to follow the necessary rules for the mutual protection of all employees and customers. Violations of established policies and procedures will result in disciplinary action. Our company does not tolerate inefficiencies or poor quality. 

The disciplinary process allows employees to meet or exceed documented expectations. It also allows the employer to give the employee every opportunity to be successful. The growth, development, and ultimate success of our company is dependent upon a reciprocal relationship of dedication, honesty, loyalty, earnest efforts, and above all, communication between Manhattan Mechanical Services and its employees. We know that their journeys here will not only be challenging, enjoyable and rewarding but, most importantly, safe. 

The management team intends to provide a safe and stimulating work environment that enables employees to achieve optimum personal excellence, professionalism, and financial success. The goal of Manhattan Mechanical Services is to bring together safety-minded individuals who can exceed expectations by safely working together as a team. Our goal is to be the best of the best — the most highly respected mechanical contractor in our industry.

Interested in a career at Manhattan Mechanical Services? Visit our careers and training page here.