As 2016 closes out, one of the biggest challenges facing companies in the industry is a worsening labor crunch.
From dealers to boat builders, companies throughout the boating industry are finding it increasingly difficult to find and keep good employees.
That’s according to our latest Boating Industry survey, conducted via email in October 2016 as we surveyed readers of our print and digital products about their hiring challenges.
Two-thirds of companies said it is more difficult to find and keep good employees than it was a year ago, and 37 percent said it is much more difficult. Less than 4 percent said it was easier to find and keep employees than it was a year ago.
This represented a significant change from a similar survey in March of 2015. At that time, only 45 percent said it was more difficult to find and keep good employees and only 18 percent said it was much more difficult.
Service, manufacturing positions most challenging
One thing that hasn’t changed since last year is that service and manufacturing jobs are the most difficult to fill.
Of those respondents that have service departments, 66 percent said it is very difficult to find and keep good employees in service. Another 27 percent said it was somewhat difficult, while only 7 percent said it wasn’t difficult at all. That was up from 2015 when 54 percent said it was very difficult to fill those roles.
For those companies with manufacturing operations, 55 percent said it was very difficult to find and keep manufacturing employees, while another 41 percent said it was somewhat difficult. Those positions seem to have become markedly tougher to fill, as only 35 percent said it was very difficult to fill manufacturing jobs in 2015.
Respondents reported a much easier time filling other jobs (see full chart p. 17), with marketing and office/support staff being the easiest. Only 22 percent said it was very difficult to find and keep good marketing employees, while 45 percent said it was not difficult at all. Seventeen percent said it was very difficult to find and keep office staff, while 32 percent said it wasn’t difficult at all.
Most adding employees
Almost two-thirds of companies reported adding new employees this year across a variety of fields, while 71 percent expect to add employees in 2017.
Of those companies with manufacturing operations, 66 percent added employees this year and 59 percent expect to hire more in 2017.
Among non-manufacturing companies, service personnel were the most common additions, with 50 percent of companies adding to their service departments in 2016. Fifty-seven percent expect to add more service department employees next year.
Those were the only departments where more than half of companies added employees. However, companies look to be staffing up in sales for next year. Although 31 percent added sales employees this year, 52 percent expect to add to their sales team in 2017.
Many companies also added employees in other categories this year, including office/support staff (28 percent), customer service (26 percent), marina (22 percent) and marketing (18 percent).
As for 2017, companies are planning to add employees in office/support staff (27 percent), marina (22 percent), customer service (15 percent) and marketing (8 percent).
Companies are using a variety of methods to find those new employees, but the most common (72 percent) remains employee referrals. More than half of employers are also using online job sites (63 percent) and social media (52 percent).
Investing in training
One of the most important parts of keeping good employees is giving employees an opportunity to advance. With that in mind, it appears that employers are opting to invest in training to improve skills and the customer experience.
Most companies (71 percent) are spending at least $500 a year on employee training, up from 63 percent in 2015. Nearly a third are spending at least $1,000 a year on training per employee. Only 7 percent reported spending less than $100 per employee on training.