Hiring a Flexographic Operator in today’s world can be challenging, especially if you are searching for an experienced and highly skilled operator that is capable of troubleshooting when issues arise. Many flexographic printing machines out on the market today, do not yet have the automation that makes it easy to set up, troubleshoot, and simply operate. The main reason for this is the high cost associated with these large pieces of equipment on the front end. A company’s options are limited, as you can either: 1) Automate your equipment and hire less experienced operators or 2) Keep costs down and highly skilled operators. Most manufacturers might opt for the latter, however, having an understanding of the current labor situation in the flexographic industry is important.
Here are some tips when it comes to hiring a flexographic operator.
- Make sure that the newly hired operator is set up for success. This strategy is simple, partner with the right equipment manufacturer from the start. If the equipment manufacturer company doesn’t offer training or on-site solutions to technical problems, then you are not going to succeed, especially with a new hire that doesn’t have the experience. Partnering with a company like Printco Industries, a flexographic printing manufacturer, that has a reputation in the industry for technical excellence and support with every piece of equipment the company produces is a win-win situation. According to President, Laurie Burkel. “We don’t just produce a quality product, we continue to provide support to the company when challenges arise by providing on-site assistance. When you call us, you don’t get an automated message, we actually answer our phones. We are accessible. Our niche is our ability to troubleshoot and help our customers get through challenges when a new ink or substrate is introduced.”
- Utilize Omni–channels when hiring. Don’t just use one advertising platform. Go big, or go home. It’s a numbers game, the more leads in the funnel, especially with the current labor shortage, the more potential qualified applicants you will receive. It’s also important to know that you need to use the right channels. Similar to marketing, it’s important to focus efforts on a particular target audience. According to marketing expert Tammy Brzeczkowski of Dynamic Designs Unlimited, “Employment marketing has been a hot topic due to the current labor shortage. Our focus has changed from external marketing to internal marketing for all industries. We help businesses focus on culture to acquire and retain talent.” Where can you find these press operators? Better yet, who are they? According to Data USA, “66% of Printing press operators are White (Non-Hispanic), making that the most common race or ethnicity in the occupation. Representing 11.3% of Printing press operators, White (Hispanic) is the second most common race or ethnicity in this occupation. Additionally, the median age of Printing press operators is 44.3, and Male employees are generally 2.97 years older than their Female counterparts. Social media, billboards, television, radio, digital ads, email marketing, geo-fencing, and employment agencies are just a few of the outlets companies are using. Internally, employers are providing monetary incentives (referral bonuses) to employees who bring a new employee onboard, and sign-on bonuses to new employees to lure them on as well.
- Know what skills are required in a quality Flexographic Printer. In general, according to Target Jobs, the key skills companies need to be looking for in a machine operator are the following: Problem-solving, decision making, concentration, attention to detail, teamwork, the ability to follow instructions and production schedules, and being able to act quickly when a problem arises. According to the article, “How To Become A Flexo Press Operator”, (How to Become a Flex Press Operator, 2022) 8.0% of flexo press operators have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education levels, 1.4% of flexo-press operators have master’s degrees. Statistics also indicate that the top three most common majors in printing operators include: Visual and Performing Arts, Business, and Engineering (Data USA, 2022). Finally, “Expert Flexo Press Operator” is the ultimate position of achievement in the Flexographic printing industry. This achievement requires five years of experience as a lead press operator, who has mastered the core skills, as defined by the National Council for Skill Standards. (Teamflexo.com, 2022)
- Change your hiring strategy. What if you were able to consistently select and hire the right personnel that will excel in a company, and remove the guesswork out of the hiring selection? According to founding member and the Managing Partner of 15 Dots, LLC, Scott Valitchka, “On average, 1 out of 3 employees quit within the first three months, leaving employers hanging and HR departments scrambling.” 15dots has a proven methodical way to educate and train HR managers in manufacturing that is gaining traction throughout the United States. 15dots puts HR Departments in the driver’s seat to consistently hire and retain the right personnel. If you’re interested in learning more about 15dots, visit the website www.15dots.com.
- Join, get involved and utilize industry non-profit organizations. There are industry organizations dedicated to helping businesses survive and thrive. As an example, The NEW Manufacturing Alliance is a group of manufacturers, working with educators, workforce development, chambers of commerce, and state organizations to promote manufacturing in our Northeast, Wisconsin region. Currently, the organization’s vision is that every northeast Wisconsin manufacturer will find the talent it needs. The organization helps companies find talent through the website, social media posts, and events like Internship Draft Day. For more information about the group visit the website, https://newmfgalliance.org. The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) is another organization geared toward the flexographic industry. The Fall FTA Conference, held October 11-13, 2022, is another great resource for education, inspiration, and networking for business professionals. For information on this conference, visit https://www.flexography.org/conferences-events/fall-conference/.
- Offer a competitive wage along with opportunities for advancement. Seems like the obvious, doesn’t it? According to this article, 40% of workers are considering quitting their jobs soon—here’s where they’re going. (Smith, 2022) “People aren’t tolerating toxic bosses and toxic cultures anymore, because they can leave and find other ways to make money without being in a negative situation,” according to Bonnie Dowling, Author of a report done by Mckinsey & Company. referenced in the article. She goes on “There are more opportunities for work now than ever before with our increased connectivity.” It is important to highlight the company culture, flexibility, opportunity to advance, and any other special benefits that might entice an applicant to apply.
In summary, hiring a flexographic printer, or any press operator, can be accomplished with these 6 strategies: 1) Setting up employees for success by working with companies that will assist in training, education, and technical support. 2) Utilizing more than one channel or platform when advertising, and focusing on the right audience. 3) Know what skills are required for a highly skilled flexographic professional. 4) Change your hiring strategy so that hiring managers follow a structured hiring process that has proven success rates in the industry. 5) Join and get involved in organizations that have resources and events that will help your organization with employment opportunities. 6) Make sure you offer a competitive wage with opportunities for advancement – focus on the culture and special benefits your company may have.