Extra, Extra!

The Weekly Report – October 16, 2023
A sneak peek at top concerns of participants in our annual State of Manufacturing® survey focus groups.

Our annual State of Manufacturing® survey kickoff event is less than a month away, and we couldn’t be more excited to share the data with you. You’ll have to wait until November 9 for the survey results, but read on for some concerns that surfaced during the 12 SOM virtual and live focus groups.  

As you’d expect, the 12 discussions among manufacturing executives varied, but three issues dominated: new state employment laws, economic uncertainty, and the continuing worker shortage.

Here’s a sample of their comments on these topics:

About the new paid employee leave requirements: 

  • We’re pretty concerned about all the new laws because we’re in multiple states. So, do we enact these things just in Minnesota locations or do we enact across all of our facilities to be consistent? Do we have multiple policies?
  • I work in HR, so for the safe and sick time, there is a concern about what is going to be demanded in addition to what we’ve already negotiated in our contract earlier this year.

About legalization of cannabis and workplace drug testing:

  • Cannabis used to be excluded; that’s not the case anymore. The question is how do you track it, police it, whatever it might be at the workplace?
  • How do we monitor it? We’ve changed our pre-hire drug policy, and we’re doing reasonable suspicion training for our supervisors in November. But it’s not clear what we can call out, what we cannot call out. We are very concerned. We have employees who run forklifts and things like that, and there is concern with possible impairment. We have facilities in other states where cannabis is legal, but we decided if you still test positive, you can’t operate. And now I don’t know what we can do. You can’t test for it here, but you have to know if they’re impaired, especially if they’re running the machinery.

About the future of the economy:

  • There are so many conflicting indicators out there that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. So, you really don’t know what the most critical factor is. We’re a small enough company and hopefully in enough different industries that it’s going to come down to our effort and our focus versus the macro factors.
  • I don’t know what’s going on. It’s amazing to me that business is as good as it is when interest rates are so high.
  • We serve a lot of different businesses and do a lot of manufacturing around the state, as do our counterparts in the pallet industry. What we’re hearing from our customers is that it depends on the industry — some are up, some are down — and that is why we are more neutral with our outlook.

About the worker shortage and the future:

  • We have a critical succession situation that we need to take care of, so we’re trying to build that bench internally. Yes, it’s leadership development but it’s also skills gaps.
  • We’ve noticed that while it seems people are looking for jobs, if you do hire them, they try out the job for half a day, it might be a week, but then they just don’t show up. I mean, they got to tour the facility and ask questions before they were hired, and then they leave and hardly even tell you.
  • Hiring has been hard. Yesterday, for example, I had an interview scheduled with a guy who was awesome on paper but didn’t show up. I called him and left a message saying, “Hey man, you’re 10 minutes late to your interview.” And he called me back three hours later and said his phone didn’t work. My staff is older, so we do have to replace and train from within and hang on to the people we have by any means. Our mentoring program is helping with that.

You’ll find full coverage of this focus group in the next issue of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine. Comprehensive data from the SOM survey will be available at the kickoff event on Thursday, November 9 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest from 3-7 p.m.

Register to attend The State of Manufacturing® 2023 here.

Upcoming Events

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