Recruitment and Retention Hinge on Workforce Development Strategies

Today’s workforce is not what it used to be. Those individuals companies target for recruitment now are definitely different than employees who’ve been in the workforce for the past 30 years. Current jobseekers want flexibility, advancement and equilibrium when comes to their work/life balance. It is for these reasons that the end goal of a truly strategic workforce development plan, more than ever, is to attract the best and most talented individuals, then retain them once they are hired.

For our workforce development plan at Mazak, we applied well thought out strategies to how we approached job descriptions, compensation, training/advancement and work scheduling. All in an effort to improve our employee recruitment and retention.

As the first priority in structuring a strategic workforce development plan, we separated the production department from the rest of the business, then segmented that division into departments, individual supervisors and positions. Doing so allowed us to generate highly accurate job descriptions that better reflect skill sets, experience and education/certification requirements for all positions.

These all-encompassing job descriptions provided us the answer to a very critical question. What are the necessary skills and talents needed for each position as well as what amount and type of training is required? With the answer to that question, we then turned our focus to the individual employee and evaluated each one to determine their potential for an effective succession plan and whether or not they are able to advance within the organization. Our goal is to avoid boxing in our employees to one position, but instead give them every opportunity possible to progress within the organization.

To ensure we also offer existing and potential employees compensation packages that are fair and competitive, we participated in several salary surveys to gain valuable data. With that data, we analyzed and restructured our compensation also based on positions, skill sets and experience.

Without a succession plan, companies are destined to fail. This is why another key goal of our strategic workforce development plan was to continuously identify future leaders within the company. Once we do, we offer them several resources to help them advance and prepare for future leadership positions.

For career advancement, we’ve started what we call Mazak University, which is a system of inside training. Some of this is mandatory training, while the remainder is voluntary, and once completed allow employees to apply for internal job postings. Or they can take advantage of tuition assistance from Mazak for attending Gateway Technical college. So both internal and external training opportunities are an option.

Our strategy, as much as possible, is to fill the lower level jobs and provide the extra training an individual lacks and needs. Once they gain the skills and knowledge, we advance them to higher level positions to continue their growth within the company.

We call this our Destination Leadership program where Mazak employees take ownership of their futures. Also as part of the program, we’ve implemented external Leadership Training through ERA for those promoted to group leader, supervisor and/or management positions. Additionally, employees learn from mentors and cross training opportunities.

Like opportunity for advancements, work schedule flexibility and job rotations, we’ve found, are critical ways to retain employees and keep them happy and engaged. To provide this flexibility, we offer, as part of our workforce development strategy, a four/10 work week currently for those on second shift.

Employees work four 10-hour days Monday through Thursday and have three-day weekends off. Plus, for those 10 hour days, they earn overtime pay.

Job rotations, much like four/10 work weeks do, not only prevent employee burnout, but help build a stronger more versatile workforce. This also provides a safety net so to speak because employees become cross trained in various positions and can fill in when needed. But most importantly it strengthens employee retention because they don’t get bored with their job while they are also gaining valuable skills and knowledge.

While we’ve accomplished many goals to date within our strategic workforce development program, it is one that is continuous and dynamic. But in the end, it allows Mazak to offer not just a job, but a career.

About Mazak Corporation

Mazak Corporation is a leader in the design and manufacture of productive machine tool solutions. Committed to being a partner to customers with innovative technology, its world-class facility in Florence, Kentucky, produces over 100 models of turning centers, Multi-Tasking machines and vertical machining centers, including 5- axis models. Continuously investing in manufacturing technology allows the Kentucky Mazak iSMART Factory™ to be the most advanced and efficient in the industry, providing high-quality and reliable products through its “Production-On-Demand” practice. Mazak maintains eight Technology Centers across North America to provide local hands-on applications, service and sales support to customers. For more information on Mazak's products and solutions, visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.