Training Workforce

Change Your Hiring System

EP Editorial Staff | June 1, 2024

A proactive approach to recruitment and hiring will help you fill those open positions.

By Dr. Klaus M. Blache,  Univ. of Tennessee Reliability and Maintainability Center (RMC) and Chris Pepin, PRORELI

Chris Pepin of PRORELI provides an overview of recruiting/retention in today’s challenging business climate:

If you’re committed to maintenance excellence, you’re likely realizing that any strategy will have to include attracting and retaining quality talent. As with maintenance, the best approach is proactive. Our The 5 Stage Industrial Talent Attraction Formula blueprint ( provides a strategy for winning the war for talent.

Pillar 1: Application Generation: Cultivating a Pipeline

Attracting top-tier talent today requires creating a compelling offer that showcases your company’s culture, values, and growth opportunities. Thoroughly answer, “What’s in it for me?” from the perspective of your ideal applicant. In manufacturing maintenance, this translates to creating opportunities that go beyond a job’s technical requirements.

Pillar 2: Application Nurturing: Building Relationships

Once you contact any qualified individual, nurturing the relationship is an important next step. Quality communication and a shared vision of the future is the new baseline for a meaningful career connection. Replace the knee-jerk hunting-for-hires process with a focus on “farming” that cultivates and sustains a large pool of talent. Committing to this relationship-first approach requires maintaining contact with those who are not immediately available or specifically interested in a new role, as well as staying in touch with the good ones who didn’t accept your job offer. Anyone you’ve spoken to in the past three years should be in this pool, as should anyone you’d be willing to hire in the near future.

Pillar 3: The Interview: A Two-Way Street

Today’s interview process goes beyond evaluating a candidate’s ability to sell your company as the only place for an ideal career. In the context of manufacturing, this means demonstrating how your organization values its people, supports professional development, and offers a path to advancing within the industry.

Pillar 4: Onboarding: Equipping for Excellence

Providing employees with the necessary orientation, integrating them as teammates, and capturing their engagement during the “honeymoon phase” is something we can no longer overlook. A robust training program includes far more than safety briefings and technical skills. Emphasize continuous learning and adaptation to new technologies to help obtain buy-in while removing buyer’s remorse.

Pillar 5: Retention and Ascension: Accelerating Momentum

Retention is key in an industry where experience and tribal knowledge accumulate over time. Do you have a structured plan for recognizing and rewarding employees? How do you provide clear career pathways and skill acquisition? What do you do to ensure competitive pay for your most-experienced people? Be clear on the commitment to continually advance a culture that values and invests in employee growth. EP

Based in Knoxville, Dr. Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at

Chris Pepin is Founder and Managing Partner of PRORELI (Progressive Reliability), Jacksonville, FL ( The company provides high-quality hiring experiences to clients and recruits to pair the right talent with the right opportunity.


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