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11 Innovative Strategies to Overcome In-Plant Staffing Issues: Part 2

  • Howie Fenton
  • |
  • June 04, 2024

Today’s print industry is facing significant staffing issues.  

In my last blog post, I started to explore the labor crisis currently underway, and how it’s particularly affecting in-plant printing operations. Unfortunately, this trend isn’t going anywhere. Rather, finding the right employees is only becoming more and more difficult. 

As a result, there's a pressing need for innovation in recruitment and retention strategies, especially if in-plants want to attract younger workers.  

In this blog post — the second of a two-part series — I outline the final five of 11 recommendations on how to turn this trend around and find the talent you need to drive your in-plant operations.  

For the first six tips, read my blog post from last month, which explores what motivates younger generations, the importance of either competitive compensation or a richer benefits package, modern recruiting strategies, and more.  

Now, here are five additional tips for in-plants looking to build their teams.

5 More Recommendations for Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Staff 

As discussed in my first article, any hiring practices an in-plant adopts today should take into account an understanding of the values, motivations, and expectations of younger demographics — specifically Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. Each of these demographics have different motivations and priorities on the job market. 

These final five strategies take the needs of each of those generations into consideration. But they take a more strategic approach than the six I listed in the last post.

1. Make Work About More Than a Paycheck 

Younger generations today, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, place significant importance on a company's values, commitment to diversity and inclusion, sustainability efforts, and overarching goals. They want to work for organizations that align with their personal beliefs and demonstrate a commitment to ethical practices and social responsibility.  

That means any focus your business puts on diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and/or your organizational goals and values will resonate. To prepare during interviews, you should be well-versed in your company's values and long-term goals, in addition to diversity, inclusion efforts, and sustainability initiatives. You should also ask prospects if they’re interested in these types of things and provide concrete examples of your company's commitment in these areas, such as community engagement programs and ethical practices.  

These questions should encourage candidates to share their own experiences and values, ensuring alignment on both sides. Sharing employee stories and discussing opportunities for candidates to participate in initiatives related to these values can further demonstrate the company's genuine commitment. 

2. Build a Marketing Ground Campaign 

A Marketing Ground Campaign relies on on-the-ground marketing initiatives — including events and experiences — that are designed to get people interested in what you have to sell. In this case, that’s your employment experience.  

For in-plants, such a campaign might involve:  

  • Creating engaging printed materials that reflect the dynamic nature of the printing industry, then distributing these during outreach events at educational institutions.  
  • Establishing relationships with guidance counselors to discuss career opportunities for their young charges and setting up structured internship programs.
  • Hosting facility tours, workshops, and demonstrations that give students a firsthand look at the printing process and technology.  
  • Setting up a scholarship program to support and attract future talent.  
  • Participating in career fairs, engaging with parents and the community, and initiating a solid social media presence showcasing interns and industry insights.  

Events and initiatives like these can elevate interest in your workplace experience. Collecting feedback after each initiative will also help refine your approach and make the campaign more effective.  

3. Host or Get Involved in Recruitment Events

Whether virtual or in person, your parent company’s recruitment events present an opportunity for direct interaction with potential candidates. These events serve as a platform where you can showcase your unique work culture and values in a dynamic setting, allowing job seekers to interact directly with current employees and management.  

This direct interaction is invaluable as it provides candidates with a clearer and more authentic picture of your company and what it might be like to work there. Such events also allow you to personalize your approach to recruitment. By connecting personally with job seekers, you can effectively communicate not just the job's technical requirements, but also the softer aspects, such as team dynamics, leadership style, technology direction, and career development opportunities.  

These insights are crucial for candidates and can significantly influence their decision-making process. Additionally, hosting or participating in these events demonstrates your commitment to investing in potential employees. This level of engagement can greatly enhance the in-plant image as an employer of choice and foster deeper connections with prospective employees — thus improving the quality of recruitment outcomes.  

4. Create an Innovative, Risk-Free Evaluation Process 

The automotive industry has adopted a novel hiring strategy known as the Risk-Free Evaluation process, which is tailored to appeal to younger prospects while effectively better matching job roles with the right talent.  

This approach starts with a standard interview process, which is followed by an invitation to those considered suitable for a Risk-Free Evaluation paid trial period, which includes practical, on-the-job experiences for candidates. During this paid trial, both employers and candidates evaluate suitability, with candidates assessing the company culture and environment and employers observing the candidates’ practical skills and team fit.  

This approach offers a transparent, commitment-free way for prospects to understand the job and enables employers to gain a more holistic view of the candidate's potential. It's a strategy to consider.

5. Build Out Systems for Retaining Staff   

For in-plants, retaining top talent is just as important as hiring them. And for many younger generations, time and growth opportunities are just as important in encouraging retention as money is.  

These younger workers place a high value on work-life balance and opportunities for professional growth. Offering flexibility in work arrangements, such as remote working options and flexible hours, demonstrates trust in employees and can significantly enhance job satisfaction. This and other policies like it can be just as effective in helping to retain the talent you hire. 

One of the advantages of university and college in-plants, for example, is the educational offerings. Continuous learning and development opportunities are vital for career progression and are particularly important to younger employees who are eager to advance their skills and take on new challenges. Regular training programs; access to courses, seminars, and workshops; or even tuition reimbursement for further education can be highly attractive.  

These initiatives show that you are committed to investing in your staff's futures, which can significantly boost morale and retention. 


Attracting top talent in today’s landscape may seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. With the right tactics — including some of the recommendations I’ve outlined in this blog post and the last — you can start to build an enticing environment for today’s younger talent. It starts by prioritizing the same things they prioritize and reaching them in the places they’re likely to be. 

I hope these recommendations can help you better cater to the desires of the employees you’re trying to hire. And that these approaches can collectively contribute to a more effective recruitment and retention plan that resonates with the values and aspirations of today's emerging workforce. 

11 Innovative Strategies to Overcome In-Plant Staffing Issues: Part 2

To attract new employees and build out their staffing needs, in-plants today need to rethink their hiring strategies. Younger generations, especially, are looking for different things in the workplace, wanting an employer that lives up to their ideals and prioritizes the values and programs they do. Building a workplace that measures up is the first step to appealing to younger workers today — but recruiting and retaining staff may mean thinking outside of the box at every stage. 

In the second of a two-part series, Howie Fenton gives his final five of 11 recommendations on how to overcome in-plant staffing issues.


About the Author

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail Howie@howiefentonconsulting.com

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