Challenges facing industrial companies

When asked to write this article for our AIMS International corporate website, I had to think carefully about how to keep it concise while conveying the subject matter as comprehensively as possible. The scope of our global Industrial, Engineering & Logistics team is so vast that, at first, it seemed impossible to express anything other than generalities, the more so as I was supposed to address issues affecting all regions of the world… However, I strongly feel that there are several commonalities that justify the existence of this team, as a group devoted to helping clients within the industrial cluster fulfill their recruitment needs.

After some thought, I chose to formulate a few of those common aspects inasmuch as they concern both candidates and recruiters and to touch upon certain regional aspects that may be important in future:

  1. Adapting to local culture is more important than in other businessesIndustrial and Logistics companies still employ more blue collar workers than those from other industries. Adapting to local culture and specificities is thus even more important than in other businesses and managers should be prepared to use some empathy in order to be accepted within a new environment, and be allowed to adapt global guidelines to local needs. Unfortunately, increasing centralization in global companies with the understandable aim of achieving greater effectiveness is working against this need.
  2. Site transfers and structural changes are becoming more and more frequentCompanies have responded to the increasing volatility in both price and availability of raw materials and transformed products between shortages and overcapacity with ever greater efforts to match supply with demand almost in “real time”. The result is that outputs are permanently corrected, employees are hired and laid off at an increasing pace, work times become flexibilised, and industrial sites open, close or are relocated much more frequently than in the past. This clearly leads to more pressure on the workforce but also generates other issues, one of those being the difficulty of preserving intellectual property.
  3. Industrial companies are not as attractive as tertiary sector companiesMany industrial sites are located in unattractive areas (or at least areas in which it is difficult to attract people from other locations), industrial companies often have an image problem (at least in developed regions) as they are considered environmentally un-friendly, or are believed to “exploit” their workforce. Furthermore, industrial manufacturing sites make semi-finished products, the purpose or use of which is not fully understood by the public at large. If one adds to that the fact that compensation for managers in industrial sectors is in many cases inferior to that granted in other industries, often for jobs with less responsibility and strain, it is easy to understand that the attractiveness of certain professions is limited.
  4. Increasing demand for lean professionals in Europe and the AmericasAs the need for improved productivity becomes continuously more important in the face of low cost competition, and as lean concepts spread from the factory floor to other departments, European and American industrial businesses are facing ever-greater problems in recruiting professionals with the corresponding experience.
    The issues outlined above mean that having “state of the art” Talent Acquisition, Talent Management and Talent Retention policies is a fundamental key to successful HR Management. AIMS International’s Global Industrial, Engineering & Logistics Team is committed to helping our international clients achieve world-class status in these fields and by doing so, to provide them with an edge over their competition in the war for talent.