3 pairs of hands with a graphic in between them that says Supply Chain

Landrum Workforce Management: A Key Link in the People Supply Chain

by Brian Jaenke, on April 10, 2023
Brian Wilkerson, corporate vice president of consulting for our sister company hrQ, recently wrote on what he calls the people supply chain. In the piece, he makes a case for businesses to diversify the sources by which they construct their workforce, similar to the components of a consumer goods supply chain.
Wilkerson’s insight connects with manufacturing on an even deeper level as he addresses the defining, measuring and analyzing aspects of the Six Sigma improvement process, DMAIC. To follow up, we sat down with the leadership of Landrum Workforce Management to discuss Wilkerson’s article and how their service complements and closes the loop on the DMAIC process by streamlining the improvement and control steps.
Q: Wilkerson’s blog post has an overarching theme of applying the consumer goods supply chain theory to filling out a workforce. How do you see Landrum Workforce Management fitting in as one component of the people supply chain for a corporation facing labor challenges?
A – Jim Howe, Corporate Vice President: Our Workforce Management program provides a unique opportunity for organizations in that we are a strategic partner. That goes beyond what a traditional supplier of labor might look like. Our integrated and holistic approach to the people supply chain includes building worker stabilization, improving safety, quality and worker performance, and working to drive down labor cost per unit.
Q: What are some signs that a corporation, specifically in manufacturing, could benefit from utilizing multiple sources of labor?
A – Jim: The effects of not having an appropriate labor supply chain are revealed through deficiencies. Namely higher levels of safety and quality issues, lack of performance and elevated labor costs.
If you don’t have the headcount to meet your daily production goals or forecast, if you’re unable to staff all your production lines, if you’re not able to run all the machines in your facility because you lack headcount, these are glaring signs that you could benefit from using multiple labor sources.
A – Brian Jaenke, Director of Continuous Improvement: 
It used to be that labor disruption was a short-term problem usually caused by seasonal or isolated issues. Now, challenges to getting and keeping people are the new norm across most industries—especially manufacturing.
If you’re experiencing higher than average turnover rates, especially in the early part of an employee’s lifecycle, if they’re not a good quality fit, or if they’re not familiar with working in manufacturing, these are additional indicators you could benefit from outside labor sourcing.
Q: What challenges do companies face in building a workforce on their own?
A – Jim: One of the things we’re hearing is that companies who have traditionally staffed all their positions, and not used any external sources, are not attracting the same number or quality of candidates that they did previously. Traditional tactics that have worked in the past to attract talent just aren’t yielding the same results today. Cost per hire is also increasing, so companies are becoming more inefficient. It costs them more to attract and fill the positions than it used to.
Q: Not only are manufacturers challenged to attract workers in general, but they’re specifically struggling to find individuals with relevant experience. Many are coming from fast food or retail positions. What kind of adverse effects can this have on a manufacturing facility?
A – Jim: All organizations – not just manufacturers – should consider looking past the experience that someone has and take a closer look at their ability or capacity to do a job. What we’re experiencing now provides an opportunity for companies to rethink their approach to onboarding and training. We call this the ramp-up phase of the employee lifecycle.
Typically, individuals lack basic awareness of working in a manufacturing facility, including industrial safety awareness skills. They may be intimidated by machinery or equipment in the facility. They may have never worn PPE before, are unfamiliar with how to wear it properly, or why it’s necessary. So, there’s a learning curve for this new workforce.
Individuals new to manufacturing also need to go through a period called work hardening, where their bodies aren’t used to doing the type of work they’re asked to do. It’s very similar to someone who starts a new workout routine. So, they need time to acclimate and learn the work pace required in some of these roles. They also need to understand what productivity goals they will be held accountable for, so they can get a feel for how to be productive and feel accomplished.
There’s a lot of opportunity to rethink how we integrate and assimilate these individuals to this new work and help them succeed in their roles. I think that’s where our program can really benefit an organization, especially if they’re attracting candidates who haven’t worked in a manufacturing environment. We take a very disciplined approach to onboarding and training to specifically identify how we can make those individuals more successful.
Q: What are some specific ways that Landrum Workforce Management could solve these issues that manufacturers are currently facing in bringing in unqualified workers?
A – Jim: This starts early in our process as we get to understand our potential customer and how we may be able to help them. We begin with a gap analysis where we enter the environment, learn where they’re at, identify gaps, and discuss their struggles. And much like a consultant, we would provide an overall assessment of the employee lifecycle, how it’s negatively impacting their business, and what areas we can focus on and help them.
Within that, let’s say a business is attracting workers, but they lack basic manufacturing skills. We would identify gaps in the onboarding and training process and provide recommendations to improve that part of the employee lifecycle so that we’re building more stabilization into the workforce early on.
While there may be general similarities from one business to the next, each manufacturing environment is unique. That’s where our customized gap analysis is such a vital step in identifying solutions.
Q: In what other ways is Workforce Management different from a traditional staffing company?
A – Brian: We take an engineering approach to labor management. It’s more than tweaking one specific thing. We go in and see what your baseline looks like, first from an operations perspective. We look to establish repetitiveness in the processes – onboarding, for example – which can set a baseline and then develop an improvement plan.
A – Jim: Our Workforce Management program isn’t just about providing people. People are a component of that, but it’s connecting process to people as a way to build more predictability, repeatability and sustainability. Those are the terms a lot of manufacturers try to operate under. When you build repeatability and sustainability, you achieve efficiency, and then you can start driving cost out.
There are a lot of hidden costs inside people, so the process to improve around people, build stabilization and efficiency, will ultimately lower labor costs per unit, which will help their bottom line.
Q: The subtitle of Brian’s blog is How to Get Work Done Despite Shortages, Scarcity and Rising Costs. That really cuts to the point of what we’re talking about here – overcoming challenges to get work done. How would Landrum Workforce Management help solve shortages, scarcity and rising costs to get work done for a manufacturing client?
A – Brian: One of the foundational tools to control supply chain problems is DMAIC. The blog post refers to defining, measuring and analyzing, and where Workforce Management comes in is improvement and control.
The old-school manufacturing mindset was, the more effort we put into it, the better the outcome. Today we’d say, the better the process is, and the better the people interact with that process, that’s what gets the job done.
Our embedded solution is where we have our people come in. We manage the employee lifecycle, the payroll and all the human resource aspects. The in-source solution is where we have a team of our leaders go on-site and get granular with what the site needs to succeed, which comes with another layer called total metric management. A lot of what makes processes repeatable and sustainable is measuring performance – understanding what KPIs to drive, how to influence and control those, identifying root causes and corrective actions – all of that is built in by our on-site team.
We meet with our clients and offer complete transparency on performance. We pride ourselves on finding things that are wrong. We love lean manufacturing, and what lean is all about is finding problems. It’s not covering them up or explaining them away; it’s identifying them and providing solutions and ways to prevent them in the future. Our team on-site does all of that.
Q: Any closing thoughts on how Landrum Workforce Management can be a key link in a company’s people supply chain?
A – Jim: Oftentimes, where manufacturers feel the most pain is those entry-level, task-repetitive type roles. If they’re handling that today and experiencing these challenges we’ve discussed, they should really look to in-source or out-source that to somebody because that’s the most labor-intensive part of their business. They typically aren’t set up from an HR standpoint to handle all of this. They’re just going to throw more people at it without understanding the root causes of why those things happen, and achieving the desired level of predictability, repeatability and sustainability will be tough.
Contact us for a free gap analysis and to learn more.
Brian Jaenke

Brian Jaenke currently serves as the Director of Continuous Improvement for Landrum Workforce Management. He received his degree in aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has over twenty years’ experience working in a variety of industrial and operational settings. His passion is laser-focused on improving efficiency at all levels of manufacturing using Key Performance Indicators as a measure of success around People, Safety, Quality, Productivity, Delivery, Inventory, and Cost. He has developed his own tailored approach toward lean manufacturing—piggybacking off the Toyota Production System and Six Sigma principles that has proven to be quantifiably successful with several of our existing clients here at LandrumHR. He believes that this customizable lean approach bridges the gap between people and processes which is a critical component of a solid foundation of stability and cost predictability.

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