$175M manufacturer located in Northeast Illinois


Manufacturing facility faced vexing recruiting and retention issues. They had a large temporary associate production base, about 70% of which were long term associates. Some had been there for three or more years. The other 30% of their temporary workforce was a revolving door or worse — “ghosts” who were no-call no-shows. The employer couldn’t understand why they could get 70% of their long-term temporary associates to show up every day but couldn’t get the remaining 30% stabilized.

Client Solution:

The client began tried a variety of incentives with the help of their existing agencies such as employee of the month programs, PTO policies and other fringe benefits to try and enhance the culture and increase employee engagement.

Our Assessment:

Our consultants came it to assess the situation. Our plan included a 2-month on-site review and evaluation of the temporary workforce. With the assistance of the staffing agencies already working with the client we gained valuable insight and access to the temporary associates. We conducted interviews with temporary staff at every department and level. Our goal was to identify unspoken reasons why there was such a high turnover through a third-party inquiry, analyze that that data and communicate a plan of action to our client.


We conducted interviews with all levels of management with any engagement with temporary staff. Our goal was to identify the pitfalls or issues they believed caused the high rate of turnover and unfilled requisitions. We then complied and compared their responses.

Next, with the permission of the staffing agencies servicing the client, we spoke to on-site managers and got their input on how things were working at the client and how they were marketing the positions at their local offices. We spoke with every on-site manager across all shifts and compiled and compared their responses as well.

Our final step was to conduct interviews with the temporary associates. We took the rosters from the agencies and selected a sample that was the appropriate size and included employees who had worked on that site for one week, three months, six months, one year, and over two years. We also made sure to select enough associates from each department and shift. Those responses were also compiled and compared.

The next step was to merge the results from all three levels and determine where the gaps in understanding existed and how we could close those gaps to reduce turnover and improve recruiting efforts.


The gaps between what management, the staffing agencies and the temporary associates perceived were amazing. The programs put in place by management created a divide among the workers who saw favoritism, resulting in lost engagement among employees. Management had the right motives for the programs, but the results had a negative impact. The employee of the month program caused cliques to vote in rotation, so the same individuals were awarded over and over.

We also identified a major training gap in their programs, especially on second and third shifts where supervisors were responsible for production, training and managing staff. Inefficient staffing levels for both FTE’s and temp associates left managers spread too thin.

We noted that while management believed people were leaving around the 30-day mark, our analysis revealed that over 75% of new starts were leaving within the first 15 days, 50% of those within the first five days of starting. Attrition was much worse than anticipated.

Key issues identified:

Low pay rates. The elephant in the room and most reported reason for turnover, but the client was locked into contract rates to customers and increasing pay among all temp staff would greatly impact already thin margins.

No formal training. The company was asking for lower skilled labor but the machines being operated were not simple to learn. The client had no formal training program in place which led a lot of temporary associates to leave mid-shift because they didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing.

Poor communication of safety programs. The safety aspects of the positions weren’t a focus. Employees were not certain of what to look out for and where to go in case of an accident or who to report to.

Solutions and Results:

Among other issues identified we helped the team develop a bonus structure that was attributed to total hours worked in order to increase total compensation without raising the base pay for all associates. We found that employees who stayed on location past the 15-day mark had a 60% chance of remaining for over three months. The bonus program helped in both recruiting and retention.

We also worked with supervisors on machine operating positions to develop a step-by-step training document for each machine and review the SOP’s. The training program had already been available as management thought, but no one was using it and no audits were being conducted to ensure the programs were being delivered. The SOP’s were also over 17 years old and had not been reviewed since inception.

The Total Staffing Solutions team worked together with the client to develop a ten-day training program outlining exactly what to do each day and what needed to be managed. The supervisors were thrilled to have this program at their disposal, and it helped increase engagement and retention, particularly on the second and third shift positions.

We also helped develop a safety communication program where monitors were put in break areas for safety announcements and best practices as well as get a commitment from the agencies to conduct quarterly safety reviews with management and supervisors to identify areas where there may be blind spots. The company agreed to focus on safety to reduce the chances of accidents and improve employee engagement.