Capitalizing on Sustainable Workforce Trends

Woman typing on computer
Woman typing on computer

There is no more important asset to a business than its people. But with 83% of manufacturers cite attracting and retaining talent as their top challenge, how can they expect to drive their business forward? 

To experience real growth organizations like Vermeer Corporation turn to the latest trends in DEI, workforce development, and employee enablement. In this session, Vermeer shares creative ideas and programs driving value for their business. Learn:

  • How to align your DEI and talent strategies to create a more diverse, engaged workforce
  • How investing in your employees’ wellbeing via upskilling programs, education assistance, and care solutions directly impacts business performance
  • The latest trends organizations are leveraging to grow and retain their workforce

Ready to evaluate new benefit program options? The Family Education and Care Benefits Guide or the Guide to Building a Child Care Center can help.

Read the full transcript

Kristy Kelly:
Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Kristy Kelly and I'm the Director of Growth Programs here at the Manufacturers Alliance. We are delighted to welcome you to our current sustainable workforce trends to capitalize on today for our webinar. And, in general, I just wanna say a big thanks to Bright Horizons for sponsoring and leading today's session. Bright Horizons works with clients to design and deliver highly effective, flexible, and personalized benefit programs that meet demands in the new world of work, [00:00:30] which we know is not slowing down anytime soon. So, big shout out to Bright Horizons for being here today.

So, with that, I'm gonna kick it off and introduce our two speakers. Happy to welcome Alice Lindenauer, Senior Director of Solutions Strategy at Bright Horizons to the virtual stage. Alice is a member of the Bright Horizons Workforce Consulting Team and works with clients on establishing the right form of corporate-sponsored childcare to promote engagement, boost productivity, and drive sustained business [00:01:00] results. So, Alice, welcome.

And Mindi Vanden Bosch, Vice President of Operations at Vermeer Corporation, a global manufacturer that delivers a real impact on the way important work gets done through the manufacture of high-quality industrial and agricultural equipment backed by localized service and support. So, again, Mindi and Alice, delighted to have you here today. Over to you.

Alice Lindenauer:
Welcome, everybody. It is a pleasure to be here. I'm Alice, a little bit about my background. [00:01:30] I've been with Bright Horizons about a year and a half. And I work with executive teams from organizations from all different industries, although I have to say three-quarters of the organizations I've worked with to date have been in manufacturing. I come off of a 20-year HR leadership career, and probably 25 years of being an advocate for quality early childhood [00:02:00] education.

And so, this job that I have is sort of my perfect act three, combining sort of my HR and my strong love of promoting quality care. So, I'm very excited to be here. So, let's kick it off. You guys all know it's a very exciting time. But it's also a really challenging time to be in U.S. manufacturing. Some experts are calling [00:02:30] it a manufacturing renaissance.

A recent Forbes article called it a gold rush, saying that with this influx of federal funding and support, there has never been a better time for manufacturers and business leaders to reshore manufacturing capacity back to the U.S. To succeed in the coming years, manufacturers will need to embrace the new world of work in order to ensure the right people are in the right place at the right time. And that is no [00:03:00.694] small task, given the historic labor shortages today, and definitely forecasted for the future.

When we think about the new world of work, it's important to consider the context of the new workplace. You know, it's rapidly changing as American manufacturers evolve into manufacturing 4.0, and I know you guys are all familiar with it. But to succeed in a digitally transformed workplace, your staff is going to need to master competencies that [00:03:30] may not have been required in the past. And those competencies, the ability to learn them and execute upon them, those are gonna come from a very broad candidate pool.

A candidate pool that have needs that may be a little bit different from what we're used to meeting with standard benefits and learning and development packages. Today, I am super excited to be here with Mindi Vanden Bosch. She's the Vice President, Operations [00:04:00] for the Vermeer Corporation. Mindi, can you share a little bit more about yourself and also about Vermeer?

Mindi Vanden Bosch:
Thank you. So, yeah, Mindi Vanden Bosch, I work for Vermeer Corporation. So, we are a company that has over 4,000 employees. About 3,500 of those are in Pella, Iowa. So, Pella, Iowa is a town of 10,000 people.

We probably pull from about a 60-mile radius for Vermeer. So, yeah, I mean, really [00:04:30] 2,000 of those individuals are in the operations part of the business. And yeah, everything we're gonna talk about today is the stuff that you all have challenges with also. And yeah, we sell through a dealership network that hits about 60 different countries. And we have five manufacturing locations here in the United States and two of them internationally.

Alice:
Thank you. So, I'm gonna be sharing a lot of statistics today because I know you guys love them. So, watch out for the stats. [00:05:00.237] We're gonna start with this one. Eighty-three percent of manufacturers cite that attracting and retaining talent is their top challenge. That's according to Deloitte. On top of that, the industry is facing a labor shortage. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber, even if every unemployed person who has experience in manufacturing, if every one of them were employed, the industry would only fill about 75% of vacant jobs.

And that's just [00:05:30] open recs today. Consider all the new hires that are required to grow your business and to implement and run these new technologies. This indicates, at least to me, that attracting and retaining employees is gonna continue to grow in importance. Given the evolving and elevated expectation of today's workforce, manufacturers are going to look...they're gonna need to look beyond offering just sort of health-care and retirement, you know, sort of standard [00:06:00] benefits.

They're gonna have to explore maybe more non-traditional benefits and non-traditional programs and policies. And that's why we're so happy that Mindi's here because Vermeer is a perfect example of an organization that has moved in that direction. Mindi, what are you guys seeing right now in terms of recruiting and retaining staff?

Mindi:
Yeah, I mean, just like everyone else is having the same challenges. We can't find the people we need. And if we do find the people, [00:06:30] they typically don't have the skills we need to do the jobs that we need them to do every day. So, really, again, you know, pulling from rural Iowa, typically in the past, all of our employees would show up with some sort of skills that they have around manufacturing or at least, you know, maybe working on cars, they have an understanding of using tools. And now we're finding that we're recruiting from the local grocery store, from the Walmart, from the service industry and a lot of [00:07:00] those individuals don't have the skill sets that we need.

And so, probably actually about 10 years ago now, we set up our own internal training facility. And so, every employee who comes in operations will spend a week. We call it week one operations where they learn just how to read digital instructions, they learn how the safety, the big thing, the safety of being on a manufacturing floor, they start to learn a little bit of the process and the flow of what happens in manufacturing. And then they'll spend, if they're gonna be in assembly, they'll spend [00:07:30.364] another week in assembly only training, if they're gonna be machining, they'll spend another week in like machine chop training. And if they're gonna be a welder, we actually spend about three weeks in the weld training, and then about two in paint.

So, we've kind of realized that we can't just rely on people showing up, knowing that they have the skills that we need to get the job done like we could maybe do 20 years ago, we've got to actually take the time to skill them up. So, that's been a good partnership that we have even with the state of Iowa, just from some funding on education. But [00:08:00] yeah, I really just found that we needed to take that into our own hands to make sure we're doing what we need. And now right now we've got about 136 jobs open just in our manufacturing bucket with again about 1800 to 2000 of employees across our organization.

Alice:
Wow, that's a lot of open Reqs. Not being an HR anymore. I feel the pain, although not personally. And today [00:08:30] it seems like employees expect a culture also where they want to feel a sense of belonging. And they want to work for a company that has their back and cares about them, not just to work, but also at home. They want flexibility of where and when they work, which isn't always easy in frontline jobs. They want career growth and development.

They want recognition for a job well done, and a steady stream of communication about [00:09:00] the company, where it's going, you know, what's important, but also, you know, how do they maximize whatever comp and bens that are being offered to them. And manufacturing is not alone on this front. Our partners, Bright Horizons, works in every single industry in many, many different countries. And our clients tell us that just basic benefits, they're not going to attract and retain the kind of workforce that they're looking for. I mentioned [00:09:30] before, Vermeer is so innovative in its approach to supporting employees. Tell us a little bit more about what you guys are doing on the ground.

Mindi:
Yeah, so, we actually have a 4-P philosophy at Vermeer, and one of those P's is our People. And so, we talk a lot about taking care of our people, how they're the number one asset we have in the organization. And so, some things we've done again, just over the past couple years, we have an on-site pharmacy and clinic. When I came to Vermeer 15 years ago, that was a huge [00:10:00] impact because my children were younger, and, you know, everyone's got their infections, and everyone's got problems that come up. And if you have to try to get into your local hospital or local clinic, there's always a challenge. So, right on-site, take your kid down, they can...or yourself personally, they can get checked out. And then if there is something wrong, you literally wait in the waiting room, and the pharmacist will come over and bring you your prescription. So, and our prescriptions are cheaper than they can get if we go to the local pharmacy. So, just another [00:10:30] way to save our employees money.

Interesting thing too is our pharmacist will go meet with all new hires and talk about shifting some of their prescriptions over, and we can often find a generic version that will help offset some of their own monthly costs, which is really important to our team when they're looking at, you know, any ways to save money. And then, of course, you know, heard for a long time, probably 12 years ago now, the need for childcare. So, we went back and forth, and I actually was kind of put on the team to lead the project [00:11:00] around, do we need a childcare facility, and then who do we go with? And so, we spent about a year and a half meeting with lots of other companies who have childcare, what were the benefits, really realized that we're not...that's not a core competency of us.

So, we did not wanna be in charge of running a childcare center. And so, quickly partnered up with Bright Horizons. It's been a great relationship. We're going on, I think, nine years now with our center being open. And again, when you're pulling from, you know, 40, 60-mile radius, some of those children were being left at 4, 4:30 in the [00:11:30] morning at a neighbor's house.

And so, those are some of the stories we heard that were hard to hear. And so, I wanted to make sure we had provided that opportunity for childcare here. We do open at 5:45. We start at 5:45 in the morning. So, our center is open already at 5:30. And there are handful of kids waiting at the door when they open the door. So, definitely shows the value and the benefit. And again, we wanted to make sure that it was a center that could take care of all. So, we didn't want it to be a [00:12:00] seven-to-five center because that knocks out half of our staff.

Alice:
Yeah, I mean, you had to almost fill a gap in the market that there just wasn't available affordable childcare that fits the needs of your workforce. And the idea of having an on-site clinic that you can, you know, your whole family can use, you know, goes back to how do we make...we're gonna talk a little bit more about this later. But how do we offer some form of flexibility to manufacturing [00:12:30] workers? It's really hard to do. But the fact that somebody could, you know, not have to take off half a day or a full day for a doctor's appointment, that it could be done much more quickly, that's amazing. Like, flexibility has very, very different connotations on the frontline workforce.

But childcare is of course, near and dear to our hearts. And in fact, in one of my prior roles, I also opened up a childcare center for my organization, it was a Bright Horizon Center. And [00:13:00] it's an amazing project to do. But it's of course, it's near and dear to our hearts. It's what we do. So, we've been really excited to work with you guys, you've been a great partner.

When it comes to recruitment and attraction, a recent McKinley report, here comes more stats, said that 69% of women with children under the age of five, who are currently looking for a job, said that they would be more likely to choose an [00:13:30] employer that offered assistance with childcare expenses or provided access to on-site childcare. Let's take a couple of minutes now and play a video of your center because just, it's wonderful. So, can we roll that video, please?

VIDEO START:

Narrator:
Deep in the heart of rural Iowa, childcare is hard to find, especially for dads and moms with complicated work schedules.

Mindi:
There were stories of women who said they dropped kids off at neighbors at [00:14:00.912] 4.30 in the morning, in their pajamas to sleep on a couch.

Nick Hartson, Assembly Plant Employee:
Being a parent in the manufacturing industry can be busy at times. We work anywhere from eight hours to 10-hour days, sometimes Saturdays.

Narrator:
Built on a rich history of innovation and invention, Vermeer Manufacturing has transformed the experience of being a working parent. Eight years ago, the family-run company opened Yellow Iron Academy. In partnership with Bright Horizons, the company designed their early education childcare center to work for working parents, [00:14:30] especially team members who work on the manufacturing floor.

Mindi:
We open at 5.30 in the morning to make sure that we can cover those first-shift employees. We want people to feel like we're a family. We want people to feel that caring culture and make sure that they feel when they come to work, we do everything we can to partner with them.

Nick:
Doing my job without Yellow Iron and having a facility like this would be a little more difficult.

Narrator:
Working parents at Vermeer enjoy a level of support and convenience that others in the industry covet. A recent Women in [00:15:00] Manufacturing survey reported 93% of women and 86% of men ranked on-site childcare as one of their most desired benefits. But Yellow Iron Academy goes way beyond care and convenience, offering high-quality early education as well.

Jon Heit, Technical Training Manager:
The day is well planned, whether it's going outside, doing STEM-related activities, even the meal plans are well...from a dietary standpoint, are very well thought out and planned.

Mindi:
Early on, we wanted this to be a center that just looked different. It looks like a barn. [00:15:30] We're bringing kind of an agricultural background, especially being in Iowa, but we also wanted to make it very fun. And so, a lot of focus on STEM, we've got, of course, a strong engineering program as well as operations at Vermeer.

Narrator:
Understanding the need to support families with older children, Yellow Iron Academy also offers before and after-school care. Vermeer even arranged for the local bus to pick up and drop off at the center.

Kate Guess, Vice President, Human Resources:
My hope is that every single person who chooses to work at Vermeer feels like their whole life is better because [00:16:00] they chose Vermeer. And every day we're showing up trying to understand what kinds of resources and benefits and experience we can give to help people live a really positive whole life.

Narrator:
Yellow Iron Academy has been a game changer for Vermeer families, but also for the company. The childcare center is an investment in a future workforce and has helped Vermeer attract and retain team members, maintain operations during the pandemic, and foster well-being and peace of mind for team members. [00:16:30]

Mindi:
I think at the end of the day, we know that we're getting that return. We have employees who can be more engaged at the work site because they're not thinking about where their child is or what the childcare center is happening. There's a lot of communication between Yellow Iron and the employee. We just know that it's a benefit.

VIDEO END

Alice:
I've seen that video like a million times. I love it, but I never noticed like the little boy [00:17:00.145] with the little tiny little Vermeer shirt, that was very cute. And I love that all the parents are saying...I love what they're saying to you guys and how the center impacts their well-being and their ability to be their best at work, but also do their best at work. There are a couple of pretty cool things that are happening around child care at the federal level that could impact some or all manufacturers. First, there's the CHIPS Act, [00:17:30] which we've been very busy supporting. The CHIPS Act aims to boost the domestic semiconductor industry. So, sort of reshoring semiconductor manufacturing. The Act has a childcare provision to ensure that people producing chips, you know, can take care of their kids.

Under the plan, applicants requesting direct funding over $150 million must submit a plan to provide childcare to their workers. And at the same [00:18:00.330] time, well, this is just four days ago and it's had a lot of time in the news lately. So, just, yeah, since...on September 30th, the U.S. states began to face a very steep drop-off in federal childcare relief funding. Those are the ARPA funds that needed to be used by September 30th. It's called a childcare cliff, but the reality is the impact will be felt probably over the next six months. A recent report [00:18:30] from the Century Foundation predicts that this discontinuation of ARPA funding support for child care is gonna cause more than 3 million children worldwide to lose access to child care. And 70,000 programs across the United States are likely to close because they were so dependent on those funds to stay open. We believe that these disruptions are gonna have ripple effects for parents who will either be forced out of the [00:19:00] workplace or will be forced to cut back hours, which could lead to a loss of benefits.

So, those are a couple of things to look out for. Mindi, Vermeer is so forward-thinking when it comes to supporting your working parents, but the truth is only 11% of manufacturing workers receive any form of childcare benefit. And that's a figure that really hasn't changed for three years. Most manufacturing jobs are located in rural areas [00:19:30.838] with a trend showing an ongoing shift from sort of the more populated areas into the center of the country in less populated areas.

And this is a very interesting trend that we've noticed over the past 20 years or so. And one of the issues is, and you talked about it, Mindi, is that rural areas are child care deserts in the United States. Today, 51% of the United States is considered as being a child care desert. And that means that [00:20:00.318] there are three children for every licensed child care spot. So, an undersupply of child care. Today, men hold more than 70% of manufacturing jobs. It's been that way for a very, very long time, probably 30 years, but we've got all those open recs to fill. So, in order to fill those open recs, and then again grow headcount, manufacturers, they have to be able to reach into what have traditionally [00:20:30.162] been less represented labor pools, especially women and Gen Z in order to staff for growth. But to do that, the child care crisis has got to be solved. Let's hear from another...So, we have a couple of these videos in here to break things up, but we're gonna hear from former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi on the role that employers are taking in solving this childcare crisis. [00:21:00.624]

VIDEO START:

Christine Michel Carter:
I'm sandwiched right between your daughters with age, and I love how you've said the next 20 years are gonna be the decades of women. We know that last year, woman was the word of the year, I think in the dictionary. Where do you see women like your daughters and myself playing in the workforce in the coming years?

Indra Nooyi, former PepsiCo CEO:
Well, just let's look at the numbers. They say that 70% of high school valedictorians are women. Women are getting more college degrees than men. Women are graduating [00:21:30.354] from professional schools and master's programs at higher levels than men. So, you've got this wickedly smart group of people who are just working hard, wanting to get economic freedom, wanting to have the power of the purse, graduating from all educational institutions. Now, if you don't find a way to deploy them in the economy, provide a way to give them the support systems to have families and engage in paid work, as a country we lose out.

So, I look at this and [00:22:00.349] say, this is the decades that as countries and companies we should stop and say, "This is no longer a man versus woman issue, it's the best talent issue." If you wanna recruit the best and the brightest, you look at the whole pool, not say, "Let me just get the best and brightest from the men." Now the top grades are all women. What are you saying? You don't want the top grades? I don't think that's the right answer.

So, if as a CEO or a governor or anybody [00:22:30.386] who's running a large organization looks around, they should say, "Let me look at the whole talent pool, let me extract the best and the brightest." And incidentally, if there happens to be people who wanna be family builders, let's figure out how to put the support systems in place because we want young people too. So, that a whole system, our pension system works. So, this is where Bright Horizons becomes an important part of pretty much every community's support structure for young family builders. So, I think we've got to move the debate [00:23:00.380] and discussion away from how do we make sure that we welcome women because it's the right thing to do for society to say it's an economic and a business argument to bring in the best and the brightest. And incidentally, they happen to be women.

VIDEO END

Alice:
I'm a huge fan of Indra. Actually, she's probably the one person I've met in my life that has had such [00:23:30.662] a huge impact, you know, on me. And I'll say, I did once meet Bruce Springsteen, but Indra definitely was amazing. And our recent research supports all of her statements, more stats. Forty percent of parents said childcare difficulties impact their productivity at work. Thirty-four percent of parents said childcare difficulties impact their ability to collaborate and innovate at work.

Fifty-four [00:24:00.342] percent said childcare difficulties impact their attendance at work. On-site childcare is one approach. Another is a backup care program. And backup care programs help fill in coverage gaps when regular or, you know, your everyday care falls through. So, that can be a daycare clinic center is closed, a caregiver is ill, or for school-aged kids, it could be during school holidays, school closures, [00:24:30.215] snow days.

I'm in Philadelphia, we've got plenty of snow days, and also during summer vacations. And a backup care offering, it can also be used to support employees who are caring for other family members like an aging parent or an ill spouse, or, you know, even pet care is included in backup care. Look, workplace demographics will continue to change rapidly as Gen Zers enter the workforce. [00:25:00.835] Millennials dominate the workforce with Gen Xers close behind.

A recent Harvard Business School study reveals that the term caregiver is the fastest-growing employee demographic in today's workforce, with 73% of all employees having some type of caregiving responsibility. We also know many employees, especially the Gen X and the Millennials, they're in that sandwich generation, right, [00:25:30.585] caring for both children and aging relatives. A backup care program is an awesome way to support employees at every single stage of life, from new parents to older folks who have spouses who are ill or parents who are ill. In 2002, our backup care programs, you know, and these are through many, many employers, saved more than 1.2 million workdays for our client, [00:26:00.756] the employer clients of ours.

Before we move on to our next section, we're gonna have some polls. So, we're gonna have our first one now. And we want to see from you guys in the audience, and again, we don't know who's answering what, what you guys are doing for your, you know, employees. So, which of the following...and you can check as many as you want, which of the following caregiver benefits does your organization currently offer? So, we've got on-site childcare, [00:26:30.407] tuition subsidies, backup care, tutoring, and that's tutoring for employees' children, college planning, again, for employees and their children, senior or elder care, pet care, family concierge services, something else that's not here?

Not sure what else there is, but there might be something or you don't really provide caregiver benefits at this point. [00:27:00.635] Oh, and here we are. Let's see what we have. So, backup care is pretty popular, 12%, 12% of pet care, 18% of concierge services, really interesting. None have child [00:27:30.918] care centers on-site. Tuition subsidies, interesting for child care, that's interesting too. And I bet a bunch of those subsidies were probably just introduced during COVID. That's interesting. Thank you guys for that. Any thoughts on that, Mindi?

Mindi:
Yeah, just to chime in. So, we do provide...because there's a range we know in what people get paid, we wanted to make sure that Yellow Iron was affordable for all employees. And so, we do offer tuition subsidies also. [00:28:00.810] We don't wanna deal with it. So, it's all through Bright Horizons and our staff at the center, but they'll sit down with the families and talk through kind of what that gap is that they have. And then it's something that Vermeer helps support.

So, if there's a family who can't quite hit it, we've had...there's all kinds of situations, but where mom or dad's no longer in the picture and so, a single parent trying to take on a couple kids probably on a...maybe they're newer to Vermeer, so they're not paid quite as much, then Vermeer tries to step in and help [00:28:30.024] with that. So, that's something that we've had from the beginning. We have about up to four spots and if more than that happens, they usually give me a call, see if we're willing to support more. But typically we have, you know, two or so at a time that are on tuition. And what I love is that the employees, they typically don't wanna be on that. And so, when they get to the point where they can make their payments, then they do raise their hand and take themselves off the list. So...but it's been a really good benefit to offer.

Alice:
That's awesome. And it's a safety net. That's terrific. Employers across the country are [00:29:00.851] continuing to hear that today's workforce needs and wants flexibility. And we know for frontline industries like manufacturing, this is really tough. Also, we have...you know, we're working with a lot of hospitals now as well.

And a lot of this...the childcare crisis didn't start at COVID, but COVID exasperated it. And the search, like, how can we...we know people need to be on the job, you can't be an RN and work from home, right? You can't work in a plant and work from home. But what if there are some interesting [00:29:30.099] things that organizations are doing to give some sense of flexibility, some sense of time and place ownership for their employees? Mindi, you do some cool stuff, can you tell us a little bit about, what are the some of the things that Vermeer is doing around flexibility?

Mindi:
Yeah, so, you know, we compete with a lot of manufacturers in our area. Some of them will talk about no Saturdays guaranteed. We do run Saturdays every now and then. Others are pushing the 4-10s. And so, we knew that with both of those things, we needed to figure out how we [00:30:00.734] could meet somewhere in the middle of that. So, what we're doing is we call it 4-10s and a five.

So, a team member will work 4-10s, but we still run a five-day schedule. So, typically, for every job, you need 1.25 people. So, you create kind of a fifth team. So, four of the five teams are there every day. The challenge is we're having to cross-train every employee on multiple stations. We primarily only do it in assembly because there's a little more flexibility there. Also, we only run [00:30:30.018] assembly on first shift where we run machine chop and weld, and paint all three shifts.

We are just trying out a group in our machine chop on the third shift to combine a second third shift on a 10 hour. So, that's just kind of getting up and running recently. And then also as we started up a new facility about an hour from here, we started them in that schedule so that they got used to it right off the bat. It was part of the culture. You know, so, we have some team members who, you know, they've been here for most of their career. They don't wanna change. They wanna stay [00:31:00.661] eight hours. So, really making sure that we offer all the options. We have some plans that will run a 4-9 and a 4 we call it. So, overtime is still on Friday afternoon.

But again, we just know that if you have people working all six days, there's not a lot you can get done during the week. And so, the nice thing too with the four and five is that, for the whole year, I'll know my schedule. So, I'll know that I might work Monday through Thursday this week, Tuesday through Friday next week, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Monday the next week. So, I can plan out [00:31:30.487] doctors appointments, dentist appointments. We've got employees who've been really excited. They can go to a kids field trip. They can plan or they can switch with someone to work a different day and then we'll have employees who say, you know, "I don't have kids to go check up at school. I'm actually kind of bored." They often will raise their hand and come in on their fifth day and then they get overtime which is maybe what the value that they see of that and they're not actually working a Saturday still.

So, really it's been interesting to hear the stories that the [00:32:00.349] one team that we kind of piloted just loves it and then what we wanna do is, we don't...we wanna pull it, right? So, whoever...we wanna have people come to us saying, "Let us be next," versus pushing it on anyone. So, it's been neat to see there is a lot of pull, the challenge is with our 136 openings until we can get some of these teams staffed up enough and get the cross-training time in. We haven't been able to run too quick but we've got probably three to four different teams who are running the schedule and again, people keep asking for it, so, it's a value to see that [00:32:30.384] people are wanting that change

Alice:
It's just this feeling of having some control. Like, you know, exempt folks, they can plan a vacation in six months or they, you know, it's having that full-year view, I think, that is like incredibly empowering for them, I think, you know. And that, kind of, the benefit of that kind of flexibility for employees, I mean, it's evident, right? It, like I said gives them some control of time and place and [00:33:00.271] take, you know, scheduling for PTO, events, things like that. What are the benefits to you guys? To the employer?

Mindi:
Yeah, I mean, I really hope it...again, we're a couple of months in, I really hope it is not only an attraction but also retention piece for us that people want to come to Vermeer because they think it's different. And they think it's...We're coming up with solutions for them to make their job more flexible. But also, I mean, really at the end of the day you get, I think, team members who are happier because [00:33:30.228] they know they've got that well for sure two days off on the weekend, but then they have that other one day off and so when they're here hopefully that is when they're focused and if they've got...you know, even if they have a sick child, they might... I've heard some of these stories from employees they've been able to switch with someone. And now I didn't have to take PTO or call in for a sick day, I actually switched. They worked my shift and I'll go work. So, I'm still getting my 4-10s. But it creates just a little bit more flexibility as a team and yeah, I mean, I think for the most part hopefully [00:34:00.318] more engaged people when they're here for those four days

And then really if you think about assembly, now we're running 50 hours of work versus 40. So, we should see an uptake too and just, you know, the demands of everything right now. Hopefully, we'll see a little bit more retainment.

Alice:
Oh, that's interesting I didn't even think about that. Right, you're running 50 hours not 40.

Mindi:
Yeah. The challenge on the three shifts is that if we're running two 10-hour shifts, we're not getting the three, you know, the three eight hours. So, we are losing...instead of 120 hours, you're getting 100. [00:34:30.896] So, yeah, throughout the week. So, a little bit of a difference there, but that's where we kind of have to do all the calculations to make sure it makes sense.

Alice:
Yep. Excellent. That's cool. We touched a little on women in manufacturing, but we'd like to spend a little bit more time on that. Because as we were talking about attracting women to the industry is gonna be critical for success. Remember that 30% of manufacturing today is women. A recent Deloitte study found that [00:35:00.507] women are underrepresented in manufacturing, of course. But this is really interesting. Women are 1.8 times more likely than men to leave the industry once they enter the industry. Our Bright Horizons thought leadership team recently conducted a survey with STEM manufacturers and uncovered some really interesting data points. Let's do a quick poll to help us better understand sort of the challenges you're [00:35:30.447] having in this area. Okay. So, the question is, "Do you have an initiative around recruiting more women to your company and to manufacturing in general?"

This is a yes or a no, or we're thinking about it and working on it. Those are the options. [00:36:00.276] Yes, 43%, yes. Fifty-seven percent, not yet. No one's planning anything. I'm amazed at what I'm seeing with some of our clients. And even like on a more personal level, my youngest child is in college. She's a materials science and engineering major, which means she'll work in manufacturing and research and manufacturing. And it's amazing the outreach [00:36:30.270] that she's already getting. And believe me, she's not like the best student in the world. She does well, but she's getting a lot of outreach from organizations, from employers, but also women in engineering organizations. So, I thought that was kind of cool.

So, that was interesting. Thank you very much. I think we're going to do...actually, we're gonna do a couple of polls in a row here. The next one is around challenges. "What challenges [00:37:00.123] do you believe recruiting more women will help you solve?" So, is it just labor shortages in general? Skills gap? Creating a culture of belonging? Or reflecting the faces of your customers. And I would say that's probably more of a DE&I answer. So, recruiting women will help me solve... You can choose [00:37:30.850] as many as you want, labor shortages, skills gap, cultural belonging.

Eighty percent, wow. Very interesting. Do you have any thought on that, Mindi? Anything coming to mind for you?

Mindi:
Yeah, I mean, I would agree. I think, you know, we know Vermeer, [00:38:00.278] we have a lot of labor challenges. And so, you know, we're looking for all the talent we can get. And really, I mean, for the most part, I see all the people who I'm actually looking out my windows right now. I see every single person who comes in for an interview and we're definitely seeing more women. So, again, I'm not sure that dynamic and how that's changed. I don't really think we're going after kind of a plan to recruit differently. But maybe through the things we talked about earlier of having the childcare, having [00:38:30.549] the clinics, having the pharmacy. It just maybe is showing that we're, you know, enticing everyone to come to Vermeer.

And really I think the big thing that we talked a lot about too is, you know, manufacturing used to get a bad reputation. I don't know if we cover this in here, but we talked about it a little bit in the beginning is, we continue to look at how we can automate, we continue to look at how we are welding differently. How we are moving product differently. So, again, not to have it be a gender thing, but you know, just people being able [00:39:00.353] to take a large wrench and pull something down and needing that brute strength. How do we take that away from the requirement of the job? And so, making it something that everyone can do. So, continue to look at how we automate things.

Alice:
Is there...they're good jobs and maybe there are women out there and maybe in their mother's generation they weren't really appropriate, but now they totally are and with exactly what you're saying with manufacturing 4.0, these are jobs that anybody can do, right?

Mindi:
Mm-hmm

Alice:
As long as you're trained well and are engaged and all that. So, [00:39:30.732] that's that's pretty interesting.

Mindi:
Yeah, so, And actually I do something with myself, with HR, we meet with every single new hire, once they've been here between three and six months. So, all three shifts I go in too and I make sure that I have round tables with all of them. But the more and more women who come in we do ask them, like, you know, we don't judge...the question is always, "Your name and where do you come from?" And then something that's good or bad that you...well, we say challenge or opportunity that you see at Vermeer and how do we...because we wanna get better. With every single person we want to get better.

But I always [00:40:00.954] find it really interesting where they come from. And a lot of women are leaving like, waitressing jobs. We've even had some who've left unfortunately education because of the pay, because to your point, manufacturing is a good paying job. And so, they're seeing that amount of income that could be coming in and so, I hate taking people from industries we know are very important to you, medical. We've got medical people who come here. We've got people from education, but for the most part they all, I think [00:40:30.356] get excited about the opportunity to also have a career path at a company as well as the pay.

Alice:
So, yeah, so, they're coming from outside the industry. I worked with a client recently who up until a year ago, you had to have manufacturing experience to get a job and as soon as they let go of that, they completely opened up their...and it wasn't consistent with the job anymore. It wasn't like you needed to have worked on a factory floor to work on these jobs because the jobs are very different and the minute they [00:41:00.073] got rid of that and really started to look at competencies and learning agility, they really start to open up their pool and now they have a much more blended workforce and they have to support them in a different way. Do we have another...I think we have another poll right after this one.

Yeah. Okay, "Do you believe you have the benefits and programs in place?" So, we know that 80% of you are reaching out more specifically to women to sort of [00:41:30.662] drive applicants and candidates, but do you believe you have the benefits to support them in your workplace? So, yes or no or we're thinking about it.

[00:42:00.480] Thirty-three percent, yes, 42%, no. But 25% are reviewing it. So, you know, the beauty of having these programs in place is, it really helps to recruit but once they're there you want them to be successful. You want them to be engaged. I worked with a client who once said that they didn't really provide any support for working parents at the time and he would see people, women specifically. [00:42:30.087] Because it's still women still deal with most of these stuff. Sitting on the floor like trying to figure out childcare for the next day. And it's not good for that person and her career because she may not be performing to her abilities because she's distracted. It's not good for people on the line. It's not good for safety and it's not good for her employer. So, it is interesting that you know, once, you know, you do the hard work of attracting them, what do you do to keep them? Keep them engaged, keep them productive and, you know, keep them [00:43:00.356] there, right? So, Interesting. Do you have any thoughts on those responses?

Mindi:
Yeah. One thing, so, we do have...we call them social groups. Whether they're social groups outside of Vermeer or social groups within Vermeer, but we do have a group that's called Women in Manufacturing. And they get together I think maybe a monthly or quarterly I can't remember. But really what is neat to see is that it's people from all levels of the organization who come in together.

They have speakers. They've got topics they cover, [00:43:30.456] but then it's also a way to just kind of see people up and down, we call it the mile. So, we extend an entire mile here at Vermeer from all of our buildings perspective. And so, yeah, we'll say, you know, up and down the mile. They see people now who are leaders like them. We've got a lot of leaders, again, not only just in manufacturing but our executive team. There's quite a few women and so, just, I think it's just good to have the support and the kind of alliance with each other and then again, helping each other when in different [00:44:00.831] plants because they've know each other through this social group.

Alice:
Yeah, I mean, the peer-to-peer support is amazing, and also just seeing people in roles that you can aspire to, it makes you stick around, it makes it like that much more possible. So, sort of build the type of career you want when you see people like you in those roles. So, I wanted to get to some of the research that Bright Horizons has been doing and I mentioned this a little bit before. So, we have a thought leadership team and they recently conducted a survey with STEM manufacturing workers [00:44:30.993] that were under 50 years old. Because they're most likely to be parents of young children.

And here are some pretty interesting data points that we were able to pull out. Women in STEM place tremendous value on their education. Ninety-one percent said that opportunities to advance their own STEM education would impact their decision to change companies. Ninety-four percent who left the STEM manufacturing industry, [00:45:00.978] said that educational opportunities would impact their decision to return. And we talked a little bit before about women are 1.8 times more likely to leave. But there are ways to get them back by giving them opportunities to learn, grow, and develop.

For women interested in advancing their education, 96% said child care is important to achieving their educational goals. Sixty-eight percent said it was very important. We also [00:45:30.637] found that women in STEM manufacturing are highly motivated. Nearly all the women surveyed, 97%, said that advancing their career in the next like, one to three years is very important to them. However, 74% of mothers cite childcare responsibilities as holding them back from achieving their career goals.

We asked, "What would draw more women to your company [00:46:00.786] or encourage them to jump to another company." Right? So, what would bring people to you or potentially encourage people to leave? Ninety-one percent of the respondents said that emergency backup child care offered at an onsite or near their workplace at a child care center onsite or near-site for when their primary child care breaks down that would encourage people to come or encourage people to leave [00:46:30.695] and they didn't have it. Ninety percent said high quality onsite or near-site child care center built by their employer, so employer-sponsored just like of Vermeer, she noted.

Eighty-four percent said that after-school care for school-aged kids, you know, like kindergarten just fifth or sixth grade six to twelve. But having after-school care for school-aged kids at an onsite or near-site child care center would attract people or [00:47:00.110] convince people to leave to go somewhere else. Mindi, what are you guys seeing in terms of specifically...you touched on it a little bit around recruiting women to Vermeer. You talked, sort of, about what you're seeing you talked about your employee resource group. Is there anything else that you wanted to add around women recruiting and retaining them?

Mindi:
Yeah, real quick. I wanted to comment on some of your stats, too. So, we do find... neither so, we have two school systems in town. We have a Christian school [00:47:30.381] and a public school. But we found that neither of them did offer that wraparound care. And that's sometimes some of the biggest challenges that our families have because, again, if they're starting before, you know, 7:30 in the morning the buses aren't picking up till then and they're working. Typically they're out especially manufacturing would be out before the kids are getting home because we usually run about 2:33 as the end of our first shift.

So, that's been a big thing but then also think about, this was a huge benefit for me was, [00:48:00.571] we can offer basically preschool education levels through our center. So, as a parent, you're not having to leave to get in there at 8:30 and pick them up at 11:30 or afternoon. Sometimes goes, you know, noon to three or one to three. So, preschool timing is just very difficult. And so, that's been a huge benefit for us, of just our employees saying, "Man my child's prepared for a kindergarten with the care at Yellow Iron and I don't have to leave work in the middle of the day to try to run them to and from.

[00:48:30.804] So, huge benefit there. And like I said, yeah we don't specifically run anything to focus on hiring mainly women, but a little bit of stats that I found too. So, our women applicants are up to about 30% of our application. Which I think it was in low teens before that so, basically doubling that in the last couple years. And then again, you know, I think our women across our whole company are about 30% of our overall workforce, but within manufacturing, [00:49:00.102] in 2020 we were at 10% and now we're at 17%. So, again, yeah, we're continuing to focus on it.

Alice:
That's awesome.

Mindi:
And then to just, you know, I just recently last week was meeting with all of our kind of, we call them group leaders, area managers. So, the management team is kind of above our direct labor force and the amount of women in that group did surprise me quite a bit. So, it was fun to look out the crowd and see a lot of women there that I would say [00:49:30.141] I've only been in this role for two years. But I was an HR before that and we definitely did not have, I don't think, that number of women leaders in operation.

So, I'm really excited to see that, and yeah, like I said, I mean, I think we just do what we can to make the work environment something that's attractive to all people. Make sure that it's always, of course safe. And then again we're training them or preparing them for what they need to do on the floor every day. And male or female, we want you to be able to do the job. And so, that's our job [00:50:00.706] now, is to make sure that everything we do doesn't have a barrier for either, right? So, yeah, that's, you know, again, as we continue to look at 4.0 and how we can take away some of that real manual hard work so that we can we always say, Let's work smarter, not harder." So, how do we make sure that we're allowing our employees to work smarter every day?

Alice:
You know you touched on something that we're really not gonna go into here, but I hear it all the time. I've been working with some clients that [00:50:30.580] are located in areas where there...statistically in their counties a lot of these are rural areas, 51% of the children are considered not ready for kindergarten when they enter kindergarten. That's a reflection. It's not a reflection of the child it's reflection of the resources that that child had for the first five years of their life.

And what we know is that children who are in high-quality child care centers, which is your center, is so [00:51:00.264] much more prepared for kindergarten. And when you're really prepared for kindergarten you are not tracked to special ed. You're more likely to do well in school. You're more likely to graduate from high school. You're more likely to go to college. You're less likely to be part of some of, you know, the, you know, the bad outcomes in life, the criminal justice system. You're less likely to have poor health.

And so, what we see is providing high-quality child [00:51:30.187] care to people who would not have access to it otherwise. Either because it doesn't exist or it doesn't meet their hours or it's too expensive. We call that a two-double generational benefit. Not only does it help the parent succeed and develop in their career, it helps the child. And that's that's part of how you break, you know, generational poverty. But like, it's an amazing thing and you just sort of touched on that for a second when you're talking about where sort of the public school system, [00:52:00.315] you know, isn't necessarily working, but sometimes it's how the kids arrive at school that's that part of it.

Mindi:
I just want to make a comment on that too. So, yes, we hear from our kindergarten teachers that the kids who come from Yellow Iron are bored in the first year because they've learned it already. And my kids were...my oldest two were a little too old. They were already in school when we opened Yellow Iron, but my youngest went through the whole program. And I would say when she went to kindergarten, she was reading and writing while my other two, we [00:52:30.312] were happy they could, you know, write their name up on the board? So, again, it just kind of goes back to...I always tell everyone personally from my perspective just seeing my youngest being so prepared and so ready and knowing all the rules and knowing how to sit still at a table, was really awesome just from where he learned in.

Alice:
That and the confidence they have right? So, it's...it really...it's a beautiful thing and it's something we want for every child right in this country very important. Couple of quick things and then we'll get your questions. And I just wanted to point out [00:53:00.549] to talk a little bit that in speaking to our clients, we've heard some really cool examples of how some of them are providing differentiated support programs with the intent of expanding both their external candidate pools, but also the internal candidate pools. And Mindi, you talked a lot about on how you cross-train.

And that's sort of something we're seeing a lot of now is, you know, is trying to fill roles that you posted externally with people internally who may [00:53:30.648] not be there yet if not for a little bit more training or a little bit more developments. We're seeing that a lot in hospitals of finding folks that are not registered nurses but have the capacity, the capability, and the desire to come and training them up.

One organization that we work with it's called Sanofi. And it's a global healthcare company. But they also have an in-house manufacturing operations. They recently rolled out a new program interestingly differentiated to support women [00:54:00.307] nearing or in menopause. And they provide coaching, digital resources, access to providers, and a lot more. CVS is another client of ours and another differentiated benefit that they offer, they have a very large frontline population.

So, some of those stores are open 24-7, right? They introduced something that they call career online high school program to help their employees who do not have a GED get a GED. That's fantastic too. Other clients are implementing competency-specific [00:54:30.517] learning and develop programs to upskill their current workforce. We talked about that. I mentioned that with the hospitals. And just helping people be able to succeed in this new workplace. Many clients have introduced resource groups just like you guys have to promote peer-to-peer mentoring and support. So, we have a few minutes left and I wanted to see if there are any...do we have any questions out there?

Kristy:
Hi, Alice and Mindi, thank you. This has [00:55:00.165] been...I'm sitting here just like taking notes and if, you know, you feel heard as a parent total side note. It's just this conversation, I wish we could talk about it for hours because it's just, it's really amazing the work that you all have been doing. I really applaud you for recognizing the need and creating this. So, I know we only have a few more minutes and so, I do wanna tell the audience, we'll continue to have these conversations. But I can certainly connect you directly with Alice and Mindi afterwards because there are a number of questions that were put [00:55:30.964] in the chat. So, one of the questions that came up is, "What is the training for all these positions, is this all in HR?" Can you provide a little more insight into that?

Mindi:
Yep. So, we call our technical training group, and so, they actually do reside...so, we actually have also our own internal training called, we call it Vermeer University, where people can go online and get not only online classes but also in-person classes that we train people here on site, leadership training. [00:56:00.724] Staff on our culture, you know, a lot of different topics. But then that team has now housed this technical training group under them. If you ask my director of operations, he'd say most of the people have been taken from his team.

So, we actually found a lot of the really good welders, painters, assemblers, and they are actually the majority of our team. And so, they know how to do the job themselves. And then we've actually got a facility now that's set up to kind of run a value stream. And they [00:56:30.101] actually build components for us within their training time. But really, yeah, we wanna put them into the real-life situation. So, everyone who's a trainer is a former manufacturing person but now resides in HR.

Kristy:
Fabulous and then another question, and you did touch on this briefly, Mindi. Maybe dive a little, like, what are you doing about the second and third-shift employees? You know, is there childcare for them? I believe you did mention that, maybe dive a little deeper into that.

Mindi:
Yeah, it's definitely a challenge. I mean, we've been asked for this for a lot of years. I think the assumption [00:57:00.593] that we typically made when we...so, we pulled our team members a lot when we first started looking at childcare. And you know, really most of the people on second, third shift did have a spouse who did not work that same time frame. Where you do have it, you know, more in the day shift where they're both potentially working.

So, that's the one thing we figured out and the other thing was like, you know, really are the kids just coming and sleeping, and do they want them then there at the center? So, we've talked to...we've got a big regional hospital in town [00:57:30.347] and we said, "Hey, if you see this let's split it. Let's talk together how we can partner up." But really we haven't had that much of a pull. So, again, we've been open for nine years. We've been talking to employees about it for 11. We really haven't had that much of a push to have a second third shift. But we do go till 5:30. So, we go 5:30 to 5:30. So, again, even if a parent would have to go in for a second shift, the other parent might be able to get the child when they get off work.

Alice:
And we hear that a lot in the beginning when we start to have conversations about childcare. We do have [00:58:00.805] some centers that are 24-7. I will say that. But most clients come in and say, "Well, what about the weekends? What about this?" And we'll say, 'Well, let's sort of figure out the core first." And in reality usually those later shifts and weekend shifts, people, they have another either a spouse is home or a partner is home or there's some other parents like overnight that are working. It sounds like people really want it, but at the end of the day, the demand isn't necessarily that high. [00:58:30.969]

Kristy:
Yep, makes sense. Listen, I wish we could just keep chatting here. I know we've come to time. A huge thank you to you both for lending your time, expertise, lessons learned as you've gone through this journey. I know that those on the line have really appreciated hearing that. Those resources you saw popped up will also be available to you in our post-event email. There will also be just a brief survey. We'd love to get your feedback and insights from today's call. Again, many thanks to [00:59:00.790] Bright Horizons for your support today, and looking forward to continuing this conversation. Hope you all have a fabulous week. And we will see you soon, and thank you again, Mindi and Alice. Have a good one.

Alice:
Thank you. This was fun.

Kristy:
Thank you. Bye, everybody.

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