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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

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!

 

 

How Manufacturers Can Prevent a Cyber Security Breach

How Manufacturers Can Prevent a Cyber Security Breach

Cyber security solutions are technological processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. Over the years, they have become a necessity in order for industrial firms to succeed. Manufacturing supply chains are often interdependent and integrated. Security within the entire supply chain will lessen any vulnerabilities that could impact the company as a whole. Manufacturers must prepare for a cyber security breach by way of proactive measures.

Cyber Security for Manufacturing Global Supply Chain Map

Has a hacker already gained access to your sensitive data?

All companies have private data that ranges from non-secure to highly secure information. This applies if you have one user, a million users, a million customers, or a supply chain with 500 million endpoints. This applies if your data is exclusive to networks outside of the United States or if you are global in reach.

Regardless of the size of the company, all companies include the following data within their protected systems, and this is the type of data that needs the highest level of endpoint security:

  • Social Security Numbers / Information
  • Bank Account Information
  • Personal Emails
  • Payroll Files
  • Account Information
  • Contact Information
  • Financial Records
  • Product Designs
  • Tax Records

Is your supply chain or customer data on the dark web?

If you have suffered a data breach in the past, the data included personal information, such as phone numbers or other personally identifiable information (PII). Leakage of such information could be fatal towards the growth of a company and its workers. Such sensitive information needs to be secured with proper cybersecurity measures. For companies that do not ensure these measures, the chances of survival within the digital world are slim. The only practical solution is developing ways to combat or prevent cyber risks.

Understanding Manufacturing Cyber Security 

In order to stay safe in a world where digitization is key to success, manufacturing companies have to stay prepared. The best way to prepare, understand and manage cybersecurity risks is by considering all areas that could be breached by an attack. By looking at such risks in a business, and from a legal standpoint, owners may aim to formulate regulatory procedures in order to avoid the damage that a cybersecurity attack can impose on their company. In order for a manufacturing company to not only exist but thrive, they must first UNDERSTAND:

Understanding the risk: First, one must understand that hackers aim to steal, exploit and disrupt the company’s work. This may not necessarily be a personal attack and therefore it must not be treated as one.

Narrowing down risks: Manufacturing companies utilize technology for a multitude of sectors within the company. Therefore, narrowing down where the weakest aspects of cybersecurity are would help avoid data loss or operational risk significantly. If an attack is successful, it is also helpful to know where the root of the problem may have begun in order to stop it.

Data access control: Data is one of the most important factors in cybersecurity. The reliance on a single password, as security for data information, leaves manufacturing companies unshielded from hackers. Implementing a series of security measures by ranking importance of data can establish a hierarchy that prioritizes confidential data. Making sure only limited personnel has access to the data will lower the risk as well.

Enterprising the risks: Since cybersecurity risk is such a prevalent aspect in technology, manufacturing companies must include a prevention plan in their enterprise. This includes spending the necessary funds to prevent any harm towards the company’s technology.

Readying for the worst: Another tactic is assuming that every cybersecurity breach will be crippling towards the company. This prepares staff through proactive methodology and technology.

Setting key roles in an incident plan: Defining roles in advance with a detailed plan will enable everyone to know exactly what is required of them in case of an attack. This will help in a time when it is necessary to move quickly. Everyone will remain organized and on task.

Training all employees: Manufacturing companies need to train all employees to know how to avoid human error, which is one of the highest risk factors within cyber attacks. Through training, proper communication can be established between IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology) workers. The creation of a community culture will enable proper guidance and action on security shortfalls.

Administering the company’s policies wisely: Cyber attacks in manufacturing companies range from light breaches to severe damages that shut down operations. Therefore, ensuring that effective policies are in place is essential. The entire company needs to understand the severity of even a small breach. Policies should be updated as new threats emerge. Staff should be informed of any backup strategies in place and also of planned disaster recovery steps.

Never forget the basics: Manufacturing companies should have a basic response plan in order to outline expected and anticipated actions. Routinely changing user passwords and checking all systems for vulnerabilities should be common occurrences.

Decoys for intelligence gathering: Deploying white collar hackers is another method that could prevent vulnerability to cyber attacks. Companies should place themselves in the mind of the attacker in order to gain more knowledge on how one may think. Therefore the company can counter the attack before a breach is successful. Using decoys allows manufacturers to actively identify and analyze trends in their system that need to be addressed.

The latest technology, including managed application hosting in the cloud, provides new openings for risk and reveals a general lack of effective security in companies of all sizes, across all industries. The manufacturing industry is particularly vulnerable due to complex applications and third-party software integrations. Manufacturers also have challenging compliance regulations that require intensive documentation and reporting. Small business IT solutions help manufacturers looking for partners who will help them grow without the burden of cyber risk.

Cyber security incidents put manufacturing companies at risk of shutdown

Zero-trust cybersecurity policies have become the most essential risk management strategy. The only way manufacturing companies can stay safe is by making sure they are secure on all ends. The first step is understanding the risks, then making the effort to make sure a security breach does not occur. This process utilizes security audits and penetration testing to gain full vision of all system vulnerabilities. In the chance that a data breach does occur, cyber protection and cyber insurance are critical for survival.

Prevent a Cyber Security Breach with Best Practices

 

 

Epicor Supplier Relationship Management 2020 Trends

Epicor Supplier Relationship Management 2020 Trends

In March 2020, before the shutdown, I traveled to a few customers and had an opportunity to talk supply chain with some of their commodity managers. Given the centrality of China-based supply chain sourcing, I wondered if pending restrictions on material movement between countries and potential productivity downturns overseas would affect these clients. At the time, the impact was uncertain—many of these companies had placed forward-buys on key commodities, such that they expected to have a bit of a buffer to ride out the ensuing uncertainty. Strategic supplier relationship management proved to be the ideal way to weather 2020 supply chain challenges.

Epicor Supply Chain Management

How do supply chains keep up with demands?

During the subsequent months, strange things abounded. On the home front, demand patterns changed drastically, trimming back the need for auxiliaries and tertiaries, leaving much of the stockpiled inventory pushed to a corner, waiting for needs to level off and go back to their old ways. In other markets and verticals, demand for certain products and services had gone through the roof, and companies struggled to realign their supply chains to support the fulfillment of surging demand.

 

This resulted in a great deal of wheeling and dealing, including searches for alternate suppliers. Local companies took on the manufacturing of components that had long been outsourced. These activities are ongoing for everyone balancing new supplier relationship management trends.

 

As situations continue to evolve, folks immersed in the supply chain community continue to try and understand just what can be learned from this strange turn of events. One point of interest has to do with the actual dynamics of demand. Strangely enough, it was not the downturn in supply that created the many supply chain challenges, but rather, it was the spiking nature of demand. Product and service demand did not decrease uniformly. Rather, it scraped bottom in certain product categories, markets and verticals, and sky-rocketed in specific niches.

As a supply chain manager, predicting such strange peaks and valleys would be a fool’s errand. Rather, the successes in Epicor SRM that I’ve encountered have had more to do with the ability to rapidly react to challenges than to anticipate them. This ability to react is normally due to a few key capabilities:

  • The ability to develop a broad supplier base. This means locating multiple potential sources of supply, in the event that one source of supply goes dark.
  • The ability to leverage alternate parts and methods to manufacture high-demand finished goods, in the event that primary components become unavailable.
  • A highly capable supplier relationship management toolset that can closely monitor and maintain incoming supply, as to ensure that incoming supply will meet the company’s needs and provide maximum reaction time, in the event that supply will not make it in on time.

SourceDay can assist in this final capability, which is the ability to organize supply in order to ensure that Epicor customers can support the shifting and shifty demand patterns of their own customer base.

Has 2020 changed your supplier relationship management strategy?

See how companies like yours respond to supply chain disruptions.

Watch a webinar to understand 2020 industry trends:

Covid-19’s Impact on Your Supply Chain 

Presented by our partner SourceDay

On September 17th, 2020

Covid-19’s Impact on Your Supply Chain

Epicor ERP Multi-Level Pegging & Supply Chain Management

Epicor ERP Multi-Level Pegging & Supply Chain Management

Blessings and Curses of Supply Chain Inventory

 

Inventory. That word can hold a lot of different meanings for manufacturing companies. Production Personnel see it as the ingredients for making their products. Supply Chain Professionals base much of their career on it. Accountants see it a major corporate cost. Executives see it as both an expense and potential sales.

 

All of these views are correct and each hold merit. Without inventory, parts can’t be built. Without parts to sell, companies can’t grow. As Inventory can represent a significant expense, managing these costs efficiently can increase the bottom line and offer significant competitive advantages.

 

The key to an optimized inventory is only buying what you need, when you need it. While simple in concept, the execution can be very, very difficult. For those manufacturing companies that manufacture products with a deep Bill of Material, managing the what and when of raw materials can become a monumental undertaking.

 

It is that very example that Epicor can provide a powerful tool with their Multi-Level Pegging Process. Going beyond just looking at the material demands of the top-level assembly, the multi-level pegging process will calculate the material needs of all of the indented bill-of-materials on a job. Have a part that takes a manufactured sub-assembly, and that sub-assembly takes another sub-assembly to make it? The Multi-level pegging process will capture all of those materials demands. And Epicor displays all the pertinent information regarding those materials on their built-in Multi-level Pegging Dashboard.

 

Strategic information such as the quantities needed, and material status is provided in an easy-to-read format. Additional details such as is the material currently available, is it on order, or has it been generated are also displayed.

For those companies wishing to optimize their inventory, having the materials at the right quantities at the right time, the Epicor Multi-Level Pegging process provides a powerful tool for manufacturing and material professionals to achieve that lofty goal.

 

This functionality is only part of what the Multi-Level Pegging process can do for your company.

 

Do you have questions about Multi-Level Pegging and Supply Chain Management? Let us know, Contact Us Today.

Epicor ERP is a complex software and at the heart of the application is Part Setup.

Is your Epicor ERP designed with Part Setup Methods and Manufacturing Best Practices in mind?

Find out by downloading the Parts Setup Best Practices PDF today.