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Employee Retention: The Attrition Mission

Employee Retention: The Attrition Mission

There’s a significant shift occurring in the job market. And our manufacturing and distribution industries will not escape the impact.

For the past few years, it has been an employer’s market and many workers were unable to find jobs. But that has changed in the last 18 months and there are growing concerns about employee retention.

In the past 5 months, over 15 million US workers have quit their jobs.

Plus, in recent surveys, 40% of employees are considering leaving their jobs in the next 3-6 months. Rather than cooling down, there are projections that more attrition is coming.

There are many reasons this could be occurring. And many strategies to consider. What’s clear is that if your organization is not understanding the root issues, it will increase your employee attrition rate rather than reduce it.

Before we can answer what it takes to retain your best employees, it’s important to understand the dynamics of the situation.

Employee Attrition vs Attraction Recruit and Retain Gears

Differing Perspectives

A recent article, by McKinsey and Company, explored this topic. It noted several disconnects between organizations and employees. These disconnects are likely contributing to employee dissatisfaction.

The article highlights that organizations often focus on increasing compensation and financial perks as a first step to stop employee attrition.

But is that scratching the itch that employees are feeling? What if there is “more at work” (pun intended) than making more money? And if compensation is not the driving issue, how should your organization respond?

Let’s start with the emotional toll of the last 18 months during the pandemic. Behind it we can learn more.

Most employees have experienced rapid change. Illness, online meetings, hospitalizations, new work procedures, vaccines, deaths, politics, changing recommendations, school closings, and daily unknowns have been their daily diet. At work their relationships were frayed by new routines and rules. Constant fear contributed to few social interactions, no get-togethers and limited travel. And with it the use of masks limited our ability to communicate visually.

Employee Expectations

The result has been a change in employee’s work needs. Studies are showing that employees are looking for these benefits in their work:

  1. A sense of value from being in the organization
  2. The potential for advancement
  3. Having caring and trusting teammates
  4. Options for a more flexible work schedule
  5. Feeling more valued by their managers
  6. A sense of belonging

Shared Expectations

Both employers and employees do agree on some things. They both believe that these issues need to be addressed:

  1. Work-life balance
  2. Unmanageable workloads
  3. Feeling disengaged at work
  4. Help with caring for families

Organizational Focus

This leaves us to consider whether employers are right in focusing primarily on these issues which may not be valued by employees:

  1. Creating more opportunities
  2. Accommodating more remote work
  3. Improving the health of employees
  4. Discouraging employees from looking for new jobs
  5. Taking steps to limiting poaching by competitors

Suggested Focus

The McKinsey and Company article recommends that organizations start by listening to employees and including them in discussions. This signals that employees are valued.

That doesn’t happen when management decisions are handed down without employee input. Such decisions are often seen as indicators that management is uncaring and disconnected from employees. And who wants to work in a place like this?

There are positive things that can change the tone in organizations. And they involve asking hard questions about your organization and then moving to address any problems.

  1. Is our organization sheltering toxic leaders who do not value, inspire or motivate their employees?
  2. Are the right people in the right roles in both our management and non-management ranks?
  3. How can we make our culture more collaborative and open to conversations?
  4. How do we replace transactional approaches with relational approaches that stress collaboration and value?
  5. Are our company benefits aligned with employee priorities that are top-of-mind?
  6. What career paths and development opportunities do our employees really have?
  7. How can we build community at work by encouraging better relationships?

From Ideas to Action

Each of these questions focuses on increasing the collaborated relationship across the organization. They send the message that the organization is empowered by trusted relationships and a shared future.

So, what can we say at this point?

First, it is clear is that the employee/employer relationship has changed over the past 18 months. Employees are wanting a more relational approach to their work, more connectivity and more value from their workplace.

Secondly, there are real opportunities for your organization. Those manufacturing and distribution organizations which lead with dialogue and listening will find ways to benefit from the changes.

They will retain top performers because they communicate value, a shared future and positive opportunities.

Now, what can you do to get this moving with your team?

Ask the Author

Rob Mcmillen ERP Consultant

Rob McMillen is a Senior Project Manager with EstesGroup. He has worked in the manufacturing industry for over 30 years supporting multiple implementations of new ERP systems and leading projects. Because his mom was an English teacher, he grew up with a love of writing. Combined with his working experience, he has written articles for LinkedIn and User Groups, and has published numerous blog posts. He is also a co-author of a book on technology and working collaboratively. He currently lives in the DFW area.

Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket

Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket

How to Secure the Automotive Aftermarket

To help develop awareness of cybersecurity needs in the manufacturing and distribution industries, EstesGroup conducted a joint education session with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). SEMA is a trade association composed of manufacturers, distributors, retailers and specialists focused on automotive specialty parts and accessories.

Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket

The educational session,“Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket,” focused on the steps that SEMA members can do to mitigate cyber threats. These steps can help any business improve digital security, so I’d like to review some of the material covered concerning the landscape of cyber threats.

What is the Threat?

Threats to organizations are widespread and increasingly prolific. According to the 2021 Malware Report from Cybersecurity Insiders, 88% of a survey of 500,000 IT professionals and 76% of 30,000 small and medium-sized business owners say that cyberthreats are a significant and growing risk. The attack vectors are multifaceted, including spear phishing emails, domain spoofing, and man-in-the-middle attacks.  

Cyberthreats are impacting organizations at all levels. On the business side, malware attacks caused both an increase in IT security-related spending and a decrease in productivity. At the IT operations level, ransomware is forcing cybersecurity professionals to update IT security strategies to focus on mitigation, as they struggle with data loss, downtime, and business continuity.

Watch the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) of “Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket”

Ransomware Questions, Security Answers

One might beg the question: Why is this happening? The reasons are surprisingly straightforward—the business of cyber warfare is a low-barrier, high-reward enterprise. The “startup costs” for a hacker who already has the necessary technical acumen are comparatively low, when compared to a traditional business environment.

The Reward is a Handsome Ransom

Cybersecurity is not merely an IT problem. It’s an enterprise-wide issue. As business owners, we do things to make our enterprises more integrated and efficient, and share information across the organization. But this creates new potential opportunities for exploitation. Moreover, since March of 2020, we and our fellow employees have been accessing our work environment from an increasingly remote context, further complicating company networks and creating new vulnerabilities.

Where are the Attacks Coming From?

The threats that proliferate our contemporary cyber landscape can be described as “hidden in plain sight” — the threat is as broad as the number of connected users, connected devices, and connected programs. It is not an exaggeration to say that every touchpoint is a potential threat. Some of the most common infiltration paths include the following:

  • Email: Email is a constant target of schemes and scams, and the attacks are getting more nuanced and personalized.
  • The Internet: Online infiltration dressed as information continues to be a source of attacks, with increasing attempts from hackers to disguise malicious domains to appear like the familiar sites that you know and love.
  • Programs & Applications: Within daily business operations, a company uses a surprising number of discrete applications. Whether online or installed on your devices, every program that we use for business purposes is a potential threat.
  • Integrations: The integrating of core systems with third-party applications increases the threat risk. We want the benefits of interconnectivity—for instance, we want our e-commerce system to speak to our inventory system so we know what is available to sell and ship. But in the hands of a hacker, that is a dangerous amount of information to possess.
  • Authentication: The credentials that users apply when accessing company resources can be a significant source of risk. Weak user credentials, simple passwords, and basic authentication policies can allow for significant system breeches.
  • The IOT Movement: The “internet of things” or “IOT” movement increased points of connectivity, and the number of viable targets. Who would have ever thought that you could get hacked by your refrigerator!
  • The BYOD Movement:  The “bring your own device” or “BYOD” movement lowered the bar for device management. Increasingly, smartphones and other devices are accessing social media social media to access system resources.  The risk here should be self-evident.
  • Remote Access: VPNs (or virtual private networks) provide extensive access to company networks. VPNs often provide more access than a user actually needs—it’s like providing access to the entire gymnasium just so you can reach the janitor’s closet.
  • COVID: The pandemic expanded the threat landscape, by increasing the number of remote users connected from a broader array of devices, many of them being inadequately-connected. On a broad scale, shared family devices were suddenly connecting to company headquarters.

The Future of Preventing Ransomware in the Automotive Aftermarket

As you can see, the threats are abundant, and the targets are many. The future of security in the automotive aftermarket depends on you and on your cybersecurity strategy. There are some simple steps that companies can take to mitigate the challenges of our current cyber landscape. To see what companies are doing to secure their organizations from threats, and what you can do to secure your future, please watch the recording of the SEMA educational session and come to our managed IT experts with any questions you have about current best practices for threat mitigation for businesses.

Let’s Talk About Cybersecurity & Your Business Now

ERP Culture & Digital Transformation

ERP Culture & Digital Transformation

Who says you have no culture?

Eric Kimberling and the team at Third Stage Consulting serve as thought leaders in the digital transformation community, helping customers through software selection, change management, system implementation, and the integration of technology and business. Their “Transformation Ground Control” podcast series engages the larger business and technology communities to address various topics related to business strategy and digital transformation. Recently, I was able to sit down with Eric and discuss a topic that had become quite important to me in the field of ERP implementation — ERP culture.

ERP Culture Businessman using a computer to document management for ERP. Enterprise resource planning concept.

What is ERP culture?

In our discussion, I defined “ERP Culture” as the set of attributes or characteristics of the company’s overall business culture that support or inhibit the successful implementation of an ERP system. Over the course of an hour, we covered several of these attributes and how they apply to a given implementation.

This topic formed organically enough — I had recently worked with two companies that had gone live on an ERP system within a similar timeframe. The two companies had a number of striking similarities:

  • The two companies were of similar size.
  • Both companies were privately-owned, family businesses, headquartered in the same state.
  • The firms both worked in roughly-analogous market environments, providing products of comparable complexity.
  • Both companies were coming from antiquated, 40-year-old business systems.
  • They were implementing the same ERP system and using the same system integrator.
  • The companies had similar project budgets and similar core team contributions.

The two companies had so many similarities, and yet one implementation was a ringing success and the other was a frustrating mess. In trying to perform forensics to understand just why one implementation was successful and the other a failure, I began to wonder whether the differences between the two projects were due to the significant differences in the cultural makeup of the two companies. 

Having once worked in the area of Lean Six Sigma, the idea of “Lean Culture” had been well documented — the notion that a successful implementation of Lean methodologies was highly contingent on the culture of the organization. I tend to think that the same applies to the ERP community: that the success of an ERP implementation rests heavily on the cultural foundation of the implementing organization. That said, what are the elements that comprise the company’s cultural foundation?

ERP Culture & Digital Transformation

Clarity of Focus

Successful companies are constantly separating wheat from chaff — separating key initiatives from tertiary activities. They tend to be good at taking initiatives to their successful conclusion. They are good at avoiding distractions. In the words of Jack Welsh, they “pick a direction and implement like hell.” And when and ERP project occurs, they becomes the primary focus of the organization, and other initiatives get put on hold. Unsuccessful companies tend to be distracted by shiny objects and this distractibility infects their implementation projects.

Attention to Detail

Successful companies are process-oriented — they understand the importance of specific activities and are not prone to “skipping steps.” At times they are methodical to a fault. This is especially the case when you compare them to “cowboy companies” — companies that play it “fast and loose” in their daily business lives. In the execution of an ERP system, these tendencies quickly become evident, especially when implementing ERP functionality such as labor time entry and inventory management. Successful companies take great pride in the cleanliness of the data involved in these processes. Less successful companies tend to let their data devolve into chaos. And you can never successfully implement ERP from a foundation of chaotic data. 

Preparation

Initiatives such as an ERP implementation are not unfamiliar to successful companies, as such companies tend to plan out initiatives before they do them. They understand the value of a plan and its execution. Unsuccessful companies operate like a headless chicken — lots of activity, but very little direction. The value of such a tendency is self-evident: companies that don’t plan to get to a certain point rarely get there. 

Empowerment

The term “empowerment” generally elicits eye rolls in the manufacturing community, as it sounds like something you’d hear in a mandatory diversity training seminar. If I were to give the term a more rigorous operational definition, I would describe it as the tendency to clearly define individuals’ areas of responsibility, making them accountable for clear outcomes in those areas, and providing them the resources and autonomy to achieve those outcomes. Unsuccessful companies tend to have a domineering management style, where a few “alpha dogs” fight over decisions, while the rest of the organization resembles an army of chronically depressed lemmings. A fundamental tenant of implementing Lean is the ability for teams to define the processes in their areas of responsibility. Such is the same in an ERP system, where configuration decisions can greatly impact process performance. Such a monumental task requires a team of individuals that have the responsibility, accountability, and support to see it though. 

Proactivity

By nature, successful companies are proactive — they are perpetually looking to understand how the chess game plays out. The tendency to look ahead imbues the sometimes tedious steps of an ERP project with a degree of value that is easy to neglect. Such companies tend to be quick to solicit and receive feedback. Proactive cultures also tend to be quick to have honest conversations of the state of a project, when things are not going as planned. Such candor is not a mere complaining — it is the willingness to be accountable for uncomfortable circumstances. The opposite of these tendencies is passivity. In a passive organization, individuals might have trepidation or concerns about a given issue, but lack the proactive tendencies to get ahead of these concerns and bring them to the surface

Sense of Ownership

Ownership is the flipside of empowerment. Highly-empowered employees tend to develop a strong sense of ownership. They are not looking to have things done for them — they’re looking to understand the intended outcomes of a given task and take ownership of them. These are the best kinds of team members to have on an ERP project, as they are self-motivated and are constantly looking to move the ball forward. It’s a question of push vs pull:  I’ve had project managers on projects where the team had a lack of ownership, describe the initiative as “pulling teeth” — they were perpetually having to drag the team along. This is generally an indication of ownership issues. 

Cross-Functionality

Companies vary considerably in the degree to which they encourage their employees to understand the overall company processes, outside of their individual silos. Successful companies tend to have a greater degree of cross-functionality then their unsuccessful counterparts. They recognize the value of understanding an organization from front to back.  As a result, their team members are not content to just understand their own small areas of the map — they want to know the whole thing. One of the great outcomes of an ERP project is the level of cross-functionality that it affords.

Cultural Tendencies & ERP Success

An early mentor of mine once told me that an implementation is equal parts technical and cultural, and if you neglect the cultural, you’ll never achieve the technical endpoint that you desire. My life in ERP has proven this maxim time and again. ERP projects are never easy. But if a company lacks some basic cultural tendencies to support a successful implementation, they will find themselves struggling to achieve their lofty goals.

Manufacturing in America, Made in Colorado

Manufacturing in America, Made in Colorado

Made by Colorado Manufacturers

Like many areas in the US, the Colorado manufacturing scene has been scrambling to adjust to the ongoing movement of the pandemic and its aftershocks. Changes in demand, fluctuations in labor, and radical shifts in supply and availability have resulted in new and unexpected challenges, and manufacturers across the state have, out of necessity, worked to devise clever solutions to a shifting array of problems. 

Made in Loveland Colorado

Made at the NOCOM Manufacturing & Trades Show

The NOCOM Manufacturing and Trades Show 2021 conference, coming soon to the Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland, exemplifies one such clever strategy, which is actually an old methodology that we sometimes forget we have — in-person, mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart collaboration. It’s this type of energy that has not only kept the manufacturing industry afloat during the pandemic, but also allowed many of us to survive the seemingly endless virtual office hours.

At the recent P21 CONNECT conference, an in-person Epicor Prophet 21 user event, I realized how much I missed the benefits that come from being able to gather under the guise of a common association. There is a surprising amount of value that can be gained by the act of simple collaboration.

There are great benefits to sharing challenges facing one company (or an entire industry), and it often takes a community to surface the steps needed to prevail. Together, companies can work to delineate the quick and effective measures that can be taken and perform the actions required for mitigating risks. In the distribution industry, with community knowledge at the core, Prophet 21 consulting is largely revolving around supply chain issues, cybersecurity threats, and the shift from on-premise servers to cloud-based technology. 

As we’ve seen in our preparation for NOCOM 2021, the manufacturing industry is facing similar challenges: supply and demand shifts, ransomware and malware threats, and cloud availability amid outdated technology trends. 

So, what is your manufacturing strategy, and how has the pandemic changed community involvement in your business culture?  

The sharing of the intellectual property of daily problem solving is something that just didn’t translate into online forums and Zoom calls. As we stagger back into some semblance of “normal” life, we look once again to share the value of in-person business meetings and socialization.  

As we’ve faced together more than a year of volatility, we’ve learn that the solutions to problems in one industry might have applicability in another. We’ve learned that our problems may not be things that we have to bear on our own. In manufacturing and distribution, the ability to adapt quickly results in success. 

There’s an old saying that goes “you are your friends” or “you are only as good as your friends.” In enterprise resource planning (ERP) consulting, we learn from our friends, so that we can adapt and succeed in our projects. 

What can we learn from our friends as the Colorado manufacturing industry reopens?

The “Made in America” movement continues to find new applicability, as companies struggle to supply products locally, products that have been historically outsourced. The reactions are inconsistent — in some commodities, I hear of manufacturers and supply chain companies switch back to offshore supply as soon as it becomes available.  

In other cases, I discover commodities that may remain in North America after the dust has settled. Increasingly, I stumble across products that have been crafted in Colorado, products new to the state. Colorado, like the rest of the nation, is learning to make things again, and this is one adaptation that you’ll see in the NOCOM community, whether you’re still following along from your virtual office or attending the in-person event this year. 

Next week, EstesGroup will once again be returning to NOCOM in person. While we had fun at the virtual conference last year, we’re looking forward to the friend-to-friend interactions that can only be present while walking together, sharing dinner together, exchanging stories together. Providing cloud and IT services for manufacturers and distributors throughout the pandemic has taught us much about the resolve of the nation as we work with the companies as they reshape themselves to take on the needs of a reopening world.

If you are a manufacturer facing the challenges of reopening in 2021, 2022, and beyond, EstesGroup’s ERP and IT consultants would love to help you understand industry trends. Our team will be at NOCOM 2021 BOOTH 62 on September 23rd, and we’re hoping to see you there!

Are you a manufacturer struggling with cyberthreats? In celebration of NOCOM, we’ll assess the cybersecurity infrastructure of one lucky manufacturer at no cost to the company! Register to win. You don’t have to attend the show in person to win. We fully support manufacturers remotely and in person! Our coast-to-coast consultants circle out from our Loveland office, supporting Colorado manufacturing and beyond, even throughout Canada!

 

 

EstesGroup Partners with RIPEN for Digital Commerce

EstesGroup Partners with RIPEN for Digital Commerce

ESTESGROUP & RIPEN ANNOUNCE DIGITAL COMMERCE PARTNERSHIP

EstesGroup has announced a partnership with RIPEN, a leading digital commerce experience agency. The strategic alliance allows the two tech leaders to join forces and offer best-in-class Prophet 21 and e-commerce consulting, solutions, and managed services.

The EstesGroup and RIPEN partnership aims to serve Prophet 21 users by offering a comprehensive set of digital capabilities to help distributors grow revenue and reduce operational costs.

Digital Commerce

We are excited to partner with RIPEN. RIPEN’s robust and flexible P21 Commerce platform, extensive B2B experience, and superior customer service make the agency a leader in the industry, and a great partner for EstesGroup.

Brandon Haave

SVP, Partner, EstesGroup

EstesGroup RIPEN Digital Commerce

For 18 years, RIPEN has consistently delivered digital commerce transformations. Our experience enables us to distill technical requirements and strategic goals to recommend creative solutions for digital growth and success. This partnership is a step towards our vision of providing unified support for ERP and ecommerce platforms.

Michael Tudor

CEO, RIPEN

About RIPEN

RIPEN develops creative and technical strategies to build highly persuasive digital commerce experiences that convert, scale, and thrive. RIPEN P21 Commerce integrates Epicor Prophet 21 with Magento 2 to offer an optimized B2B experience and robust set of features.

Build and launch 2-3x faster on RIPEN P21 Commerce, the only natively integrated Prophet 21 e-commerce accelerator platform.

Are you looking for a better Prophet 21 e-commerce experience?

Schedule a consultation to discuss your requirements and digital goals today.

Prophet 21 hosting creates the perfect private cloud for your distribution business. As the premiere ERP hosting company for Epicor Kinetic and Epicor Prophet 21, EstesGroup creates the infrastructure you need, saving you from the headaches caused by a poor deployment strategy.

Please chat with us now or complete the form below to schedule a free Prophet 21 deployment consultation today.