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October 2016 • SMT Magazine 95 lower turnover than companies that ignore this quality of work life aspect. For example, last May, all employees who were also mothers were treated to a special Mother's Day lunch which included a live band and a new handbag for every mother. A similar event was held for fathers on June 17. Birthdays are celebrated once a month. There is also a Christmas party that includes a band and raffles. As part of the onboarding process, a month- ly cookout is held for all new administrative employees. Soccer (futbol) is also supported. There is a soccer field on the plant grounds and different areas of the Company have organized teams. An Interworld Competition Soccer Tournament was recently held among those teams and the SMT area won. The company's teams will like- ly be joining the larger competition among lo- cal maquiladoras. Firstronic's shelter provider, Tecma, spon- sors a Kids Day for all the companies it is con- tracted with to provide large scale family fun. Again, there are measurable results from this activity. According the Mexico Seguro Social (Social Security Agency), typical Juarez turnover runs between 4% and 11% per month. In the past rolling 12 months, the Company's Juarez facility has averaged 2.3% turnover and with- out a seasonal spike in June would have been under 2%. Another factor impacting turnover positive- ly is the company's compensation program. Production operator compensation includes a pay for skills component to incentivize em- ployees to cross train and master multiple as- sembly operations, so that this leaner workforce can be appropriately deployed in specific pro- duction operations based on the demand trends at that time. The Certified Wage Scale is posted in the facility so that everyone can see what ev- eryone else is making based on the number of operations for which they are trained and certi- fied to perform. The net result is a higher wag- es than the surrounding area for many employ- ees. It is important to note that this level of ad- vancement is 100% the operators' choice. They can choose to learn only one operation or be- come skilled in multiple operations and under- stand that the choice they make impacts their earning potential. Some choose not to advance, but everyone understands that they are each in charge of their own destiny. Sustainable Practices with Strong Benefits The dynamics that drove development of these programs are here to stay. In the U.S., availability of experienced manufacturing per- sonnel continues to drop as more of that work- force retires. A resurgence in US manufacturing will exacerbate this problem. That said, many of the practices described here were used when the electronics assembly industry was in its infan- cy and experienced workers were also in short supply. Generational differences will also con- tinue to be part of the new normal. The "my way or the highway" management style of the 20 th Century doesn't work well with a genera- tion that has grown up with participation tro- phies and the internet. This generation is also less committed to long hours, having watched their parents work 80-hour weeks with little to show for it. More flexible scheduling such as the example discussed here, provides larger blocks of free time, which is important to employees who see work as a means to fund their lifestyle vs. the primary focus in life. In Mexico, consid- eration for the individual is key part of societal culture. Recognition at work, social events and team spirit are important elements in the work- er quality of life equation. The end result of aligning onboarding and retention practices with labor pool dynamics is higher quality and reduced cost. Training and relationship building activities do carry cost, but the net result of lower turnover offsets that. More importantly, a stable, well-trained work- force builds higher quality products. In this company's cross-training model, they are also able to move around the factory as demand changes, improving throughput at optimum employment levels. SMT Tony Bellitto is Firstronic's director of quality. He can be reached by clicking here. RECRUITING AND MAINTAINING A HIGH-QUALITY MANUFACTURING WORKFORCE

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