This article appeared in Food Manufacturing, but the ideas can be applied to any industry to help STOP the talent drain:

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n spite of the worst recession in 50 years, the Baby Boomer generation’s exit from the workplace continues to pick up momentum. As older workers retire — taking with them their skills and experience — and as technologies change within industries, this exodus creates a dangerous talent drain that affects every type of business.

But for some of the less glamorous sections of the work environment, such as the food manufacturing industry, the lack of talented and experienced employees becomes an increasingly critical issue.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute, one-third of all manufacturers are already experiencing moderate to serious shortages of skilled employees in the available labor pool. To combat this increasing talent drain, companies in the food manufacturing industry must recruit, develop and retain a talented workforce that has the advanced skill set necessary to work in modern food manufacturing.

Changes for The New Manufacturing Environment

Before any of this can happen, however, manufacturing executives must recognize that the traditional way of managing employees will not work in today’s environment. The shift from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy affects all industries, including manufacturing.

As a result, the culture of a company and the mindset of management must adjust from the top down. Instead of a Command and Control type of environment, manufacturing companies must create a team-based culture with an expectation and opportunity for employees at all levels to be productive, effective and accountable. Policies and procedures must change to provide front line supervisors with increased latitude to hire, train, discipline and fire employees as necessary. Leaders must encourage involvement and innovation as the workforce emphasizes knowledge and technical skills to provide a competitive edge. And, while such changes may initially challenge a historically conservative industry, those companies that refuse to adjust will find themselves simply left behind.

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