How is your organization faring in the industrial talent war? Companies around the world are learning to thrive and sustain amid uncertainties. They’re returning to normalcy and quickly adapting to scale their operations back to the pre-pandemic days.

Here in the US, different industries, including manufacturing, are doing their best to improve their operations and grow. Still, talent shortages driven by the COVID-19 pandemic are a significant cause of worry for them.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 4.6 million workers are missing from the labor pool due to layoffs or company shutdowns during the initial pandemic days.

A tight labor market is one of the lingering effects of the pandemic, and it’s here to stay for a while. Amid these talent shortages, companies are going above and beyond to attract the right talent and retain them.

The industrial talent war is real, and it cannot be won by merely offering more money.

There’s a lot more that you need to do to win the industrial talent war.

4 Ways Companies Can Win the Industrial Talent War

Following are four steps companies can take to attract and retain skilled talent:

1. Build a Flexible Work Environment

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed the way we work. The repeated lockdowns forced companies to work remotely, and hybrid work has indeed become the new norm.

Per a global survey conducted by Statista in 2021, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to stay even after the pandemic. According to another survey conducted by Morning Consult, 49% of millennial and Gen Z employees and 39% of workers would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work.

Therefore, as an employer, consider looking beyond the in-office work policy. As much as possible, involve employees in every step while framing return-to-work policies. Look beyond the 9 to 5 work schedule. Workplace flexibility can help a great deal in improving the overall employee experience.

2. Provide Health Benefits

In the current scenario, health comes first. Therefore, it is important to ensure you’re providing your employees and their families with health benefits.

In times of crisis (for example, the COVID-19 pandemic), employees expect financial, psychological and physical support. Consider devising health plans to reassure employees that you care about them and their families.

According to the latest Workplace Benefits Report by the Bank of America, 62% of employers feel “extreme responsibility” for employees’ financial wellness, up from 13% in 2013. However, only 49% of employees say they feel financially secure today, down from 61% two years ago.

3. Reward Efforts

It’s easier to reward results than effort. However, in the current tumultuous talent landscape, companies must reward employees for their efforts to keep them motivated.

Every employee wants acknowledgment and recognition for their work. Moreover, appreciating your employees for their achievements and efforts can go a long way in providing them with a sense of belonging. When employees feel valued, they tend to be more loyal.

4. Prioritize Employees’ Professional Development

Ensure the professional development of your talent is also a top priority. While your employees are already great at what they do, you need to focus on their skill development.

Per BofA Global Research, approximately 700,000 workers left the labor force due to skills mismatch.

In simpler words, provide your employees with the opportunity to grow. It may look like a good idea to keep your top employees in the same position with the same duties. However, employees who perform the same tasks and responsibilities repeatedly can also grow complacent.

When your employees aren’t allowed to grow, they begin to feel that they’re not valued. They feel like a machine, easily replaceable. Therefore, if you aren’t invested in them, they won’t be invested in you.

It would help if you also looked at building a mentorship program to pair members from the senior management with your top performers. We also recommend investing in personalized employee training to enhance employees’ learning and fix their skills gaps.