The war on talent – this is how you win the battle

Blog 11 min.

Whether you’re experiencing it yourself or just reading the headlines, the facts don’t lie: staff shortages in the manufacturing industry in the Netherlands are getting worse. The sector is growing well, but the right personnel is hard to be found. And if they can be found, it is difficult to retain them.

The Netherlands is not alone in this. According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, 40% of the global workforce was thinking about quitting and looking for another job. More than half of Millenials and Gen Z workers are considering switching jobs this year. And the frightening numbers don’t stop there: 

  • According to an August 2021 PricewaterhouseCoopers study, 65% of employees said they were looking for a new job and 88% of executives said their company was experiencing higher than normal turnover.
  • And a Deloitte study published in Fortune magazine in October 2021 found that among Fortune 1000 companies, 73% of CEOs expected the labor shortage to disrupt their business in the next 12 months, 57% believed that attracting talent is one of their company’s biggest challenges, and 35% had already improved working benefits to retain employees.

In summary: The manufacturing industry is faced with a major challenge: to attract new talent and to retain existing talent. 

Rather watch than read? Check out the webinar ‘The war on talent’.

Outdated software is part of the problem

The idea often prevails among companies that financial conditions and benefits, or low-tech perks such as free lunch and a ping-pong table, are often the main drivers for choosing a new job.

What many companies fail to realize, however, is that Millenials and Gen Z will leave jobs that use technologies that are not up to their standard. They prefer to have ‘high-tech perks’ rather than free food and ping pong. 

Much is said and written about the lack of a good work ethic among Millennials and Gen Zs, but is it justified? After all, these generations have grown up with the Internet, smartphones and handy apps that are simple and effective.

And then they start working at your company, and suddenly they have to deal with software from the 1980s, before the Internet even existed. Software in which they first have to fight through 43 screens in order to make a change. And if they fail to follow the process step by step, the whole thing will simply collapse. It is comparable to a baby boomer who went to work in the 1980s and was forced to use telegrams or Morse code to get his work done. 

Using legacy software is simply impossible to combine with attracting young people. More importantly, it is a major reason for them to leave and seek refuge elsewhere.

The most obvious solution that you may have been getting good results with for years no longer works: simply hiring more people is not what you should be doing now. First of all, it’s hardly possible, because there’s hardly anyone to be found. And secondly, they will continue to walk away just as hard if you continue to work with old-fashioned custom software.

So what is the solution? Not only investing in attracting young people, but also investing in an environment where they feel comfortable and where they feel their work adds value. You achieve this by working with modern IT solutions that are just as pleasant to use as the applications they have grown up with for years.

A few more facts

We’ve said it before: the facts don’t lie. And while you may prefer not to be confronted with them, there are even more numbers that show why it’s necessary to act now, rather than tomorrow.

  • For example, according to Microsoft, there is a chronic shortage of programmers. In the United States alone, the shortage is 1 million FTEs. 
  • And those Millenials and Gen Z workers, more than half of whom are thinking about changing jobs this year? By 2025, more than 75% of the total workforce will be people from these generations. In theory, that means that of every 8 workers, 6 are Millennial or Gen Z, and of those, 3 or even 4 are actively looking to change jobs. Not very good for a steady and stable future of your organization… 
  • And not for cost control either, by the way. Have you ever thought about the cost of replacing a B2B salesperson? Hold on to your hat: on average it costs more than € 25,000 and it takes more than 7 months to train them! Moreover, you want to secure the knowledge of your best people, which becomes a hell of a challenge if they keep leaving…
  • And last but not least: research by Deloitte shows that without young, talented employees it is extremely difficult to remain competitive. That’s because young talent fuels innovation within your organization, which translates, for example, into new products or improved business processes.

The flip side of the coin

Clearly, it’s a tricky situation for manufacturing companies. For example, staff shortages have major consequences: growth is slowed down, knowledge is difficult to transfer, and the high workload may also cause your current staff to go under. 

But let’s also look at the other side: people who have often completed one or more studies and perhaps already have the necessary work experience are attracted to your company and job opening. The interviews are fun, the company is nice and the job looks good on paper too. But then there’s the first day of work. 

They expect to work with modern, user-friendly tools, but they are disappointed. Colleagues show them which systems to work with. After you’ve waited for everything to boot up, of course…

Once the whole thing is running, it’s a bit of a shock. This looks more like Dad’s Pentium 386 that they used to play Prince of Persia on, than the excellent applications that they also know exist. Maybe this isn’t the dream job they thought it was after all.

How it can be different

What if I told you that things could be different too? That more and more relatively simple IT solutions are becoming available, developed by and for Millennials and Gen Z’ers. These solutions not only allow you to attract and retain top young personnel, but also to make all kinds of business processes more efficient, so that the costs go down and profits go up?

Take modern product configuration software, for example. It automates your pre-production process, which has all kinds of advantages. For example, there is much less coordination needed between sales, engineering, production and customer. 

Moreover, you can say goodbye to recurring tasks, such as customer-specific order engineering. It enables you to move from Engineer-to-order to Configure-to-order: configurable products where the customer chooses his desired configuration, within the limits of what you want and can produce.

Do you sell complex products? No problem. Modern configuration software is even suitable for large system configurations. With various product visualization options, you choose what your customers, dealers and salespeople get to see.

And then there are the advantages for your staff!

In fact, more and more modern software is being developed according to the best-of-breed principle. These are highly specialized and user-friendly applications that allow you to do what you want intuitively, without having to click through 43 screens. Often, these types of applications are also fully cloud-based, so they are available anytime, anywhere. An additional advantage is that you always work with the most recent version, which is also regularly updated through constant development.

An example of best-of-breed in the field of CPQ software for manufacturing is Elfsquad. We did not try to develop software that can do everything, but a tool that collaborates perfectly with tools that are good at something else. Elfsquad has also been developed by the API-first principle. One of the advantages of this is that you can shape our application perfectly to suit your work process. But also that you can use low-code platforms like Zapier and Power Automate to easily create links with other software. 

Because we Millennials and Gen Z’ers don’t want to call a consultant if something doesn’t work: we want to watch an instructional video, learn something new to discover the solution, and in this way improve our work processes and enjoy our work. And why wouldn’t you want to support that?


Let us know what you think.

Enter your details to post a comment. Your email address will not be published.

* is required

Google maps achtergrond vorm

No more pre-production nightmares

Elfsquad removes all worries from your pre-production process. With Elfsquad as backbone, we realize the digital factory that smart industries have been trying to find for so long. We do this through a product configurator, with integrated solutions for marketing, sales, and operations.

Our website uses cookies and similar technologies. Click on 'I agree' to allow the placement of cookies. Read more about cookies