Trends, Products, and Best Practices to Help You Create a Work Made Human Experience

Modern HR for modern manufacturing

Guest Author



Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle

Human resources (HR) teams in the UK manufacturing sector must feel they are walking the wrong way up an escalator on most days. A skilled and productive workforce is a company’s key competitive differentiator in today’s economy, but there are a seemingly endless number of challenges involved in recruiting and managing top talent.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Manufacturers are under pressure to reduce product development lifecycles while also quickening their pace of digital transformation, which means they need to be more agile in their hiring, on boarding, and retaining approach.
  • A changing political climate has made future talent pipelines uncertain. For instance, Brexit may impact the amount of skilled international resources available to UK businesses.
  • The rise of Industry 4.0 will see roles change as companies adopt new automated processes. This will also force manufacturers to recruit new employees with strong tech and digital content skills, all in the face of a widening skills gap.
  • Companies need to balance a talented but aging workforce with the demands of millennial employees who have a very different approach to work. Their challenge is to harness the best of both worlds and foster a creative, inclusive working culture.

It’s time for HR to change

The key to tackling these challenges is a modern HR and talent strategy. By taking a more strategic, talent-centric, and responsive approach, HR teams will be in a better position to attract and retain talented people and jump on new market opportunities.

This begins with a more engaged workforce. It is one thing to offer employees higher salaries and incentives, but above all people want to feel the company is invested in their development. Effective training and learning opportunities, wellness benefits, more frequent and productive discussions with line managers – these are the keys to positive engagement.

Shedding the HR legacy

Until now, the evolution of HR in manufacturing has been slow. Manufacturers have focussed on core processes like enterprise resource planning (ERP) at the expense of HR, which has long been viewed as a support function. They therefore still rely on legacy HR systems that are restricted to simple record-keeping and basic activities like payroll or time management. As a result, inconsistent and inaccurate data plagues payroll and benefits reporting, which in turn undermines any strategic efforts around workforce planning and career development.

To add to this, many companies also rely on HR systems that are tightly integrated with their ERP platform. While attractive on the surface, this approach does have one major disadvantage – interdependent systems must be upgraded as one, which is not only complex but potentially disruptive to the business.  

How HR can become a partner to the business

This is where cloud-based platforms allow HR teams to take a major leap forward, as they allow users to decouple from their legacy systems and work in a simpler, more flexible way.

Cloud-based systems are also helping HR to evolve from a support function into a true business partner. Today’s human resources function needs tools for acquiring and retaining talent, gaining deep insights into the workforce for strategic planning, and providing informed support to the boardroom to help drive growth, all while continuing to deliver an engaging employee experience.

The cloud is ideally suited to balancing people, process, and data in this way. It opens up data access and collaboration between departments, can be accessed on virtually any device, and supports on-demand information requests.

Cloud-based HR systems also offer users a single view of each employee throughout their lifecycle with the company. This is essential if managers are to develop employees in line with their personal and corporate objectives, and for workers to feel they are appropriately welcomed, nurtured, challenged, developed, and rewarded.

Every manufacturing business’ success is built on the skills, productivity and attitude of its workforce, particularly in the face of today’s business challenges and uncertain market conditions. It’s now up to HR leaders to step up and guide their organisation towards this way truth, both in thinking and in practice, and the rise of cloud-based HR systems will play a large role in making that happen.

For more on the challenges faced by HR today and tips on tackling these, check our whitepaper, ‘Why it’s Time for a Modern Approach to HR in Manufacturing’

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