Management Reliability & Maintenance Center Training Workforce

Become An ‘Employer of Choice’

Jane Alexander | January 25, 2018

In a November 2017 blog post for Rockwell Automation (, Milwaukee), company executive Thomas Donato wrote, “The single most important asset to any business is its staff.”

While that statement is just as true now, in the digital era, as it has ever been, Donato, the president of EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) for Rockwell Automation, also had some cautionary words.

randmAs industry evolves, he noted, enterprises must adapt to overcome three enormous pressures on their “most precious commodity,” specifically that qualified employees are harder to find; that job roles are changing; and that workers are also changing.

According to Donato, the enterprises least affected by such pressures are those that attract the best talent—they’re essentially, “employers of choice.” Becoming an employer of choice is no small undertaking, he observed, but the dividends are huge. And the required steps need not be complicated or costly.

He then went on to list his key recommendations for those who want to successfully manage the three workforce pressures he referenced and, in the process, become employers of choice in a digital world. They’re summarized here:

Plug your own skills gap.

A successful example of this approach is a Rockwell Automation graduate program for onboarding talent. In it, new recruits are deliberately paired with some of the company’s most experienced staff. As Donato explained, benefits go in both directions.

Consider how your operations appeal to the iGeneration.

Is your plant old, analogue, and inefficient? “A modern environment and tools,” Donato advised, “are vital to attracting the best talent.” But that’s not all. Sites need technology that’s simple and intuitive—requiring fewer specialist skills. Think in terms of open systems, virtual reality, and integration of consumer technology and platforms. 

Be ethical and inclusive.

Or, as Donato put it, “really ethical and inclusive.” A significant amount of data suggests diverse workforces are much happier and more productive than others.

Don’t buy into those characterizations of millennials as lazy.

Learn what makes them tick and how they can help your operations transition into the IIoT era. Donato cited a ManPower Group report that offers food for thought on the subject and may break down some stereotypes.

Improve employee development.

Getting talent in the door is the first step. Keeping and developing it, however, requires commitment to encouraging people to explore roles and develop within a company. According to Donato, many of the most lauded employers of choice, including Google, among others, take a much flatter approach to hierarchy and a flexible and collaborative approach to employment. “Remember,” he concluded, “when it comes to the skillset required in the age of IIoT, these are exactly the companies competing for the talent you need.” EP

Thomas Donato is president, EMEA, Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee. Go to the company’s blog to read his full post titled “The Connected Industrial Future: Are You An Employer of Choice?” In it, he points to several sources of additional reading on issues raised in the discussion.




Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander

View Comments

Sign up for insights, trends, & developments in
  • Machinery Solutions
  • Maintenance & Reliability Solutions
  • Energy Efficiency
Return to top