The Power of Nurturing a Workforce: What IMI is Doing to Close the Skills Gap

Right now, there’s a huge skills gap in the trades and material handling industry. As a leading supplier of skilled technicians for conveyor installation, IMI has a daunting task of subcontracting thousands of trades workers a year to build the foundation to the world’s shipped goods… amidst a labor crisis.

This obstacle has challenged IMI and inspired a revolution in the way a workforce is grown rather than just stumbled upon.

IMI has found success in a few newly-adopted workforce-management tactics to fulfill clients needs and avoid the crisis altogether. It’s a process of nurturing their existing employees – a combination of training, communication, and culture – that closes the gap by offering the opportunity for a career.

Skills Matrix

Recently, IMI has composed a “skills matrix” to asses the competencies of their technicians. This has allowed them to open the possibilities of specialization within the workforce. For example: if Joe really excels at installing structural steel and header steel but lacks experience in conveyor detailing, he will be placed in a position where he can focus on what he’s best at until he’s an expert in the field.

Identifying strengths and weaknesses within a workforce uncovers where there’s room for development. Employees stick around if they feel like there’s an opportunity to develop themselves into something bigger than what they exist as now. Now when job orders in need of a specific expertise, the skills matrix can properly allocate employees to get the job done at the highest level. We promoted the Skills Matrix to our crews in the field with this collateral.

Monitoring Employee Satisfaction with AI

It’s so important to understand how your employees are feeling on the job. So many companies lose great employees because they couldn’t be bothered to or were too busy to check-in regularly.

IMI has put employee loyalty first by creating an AI that we call Rhonda. Rhonda allows IMI to keep their finger on the pulse of their workforce with weekly check-ins that ask their employees how their week went.

It sounds so simple, right?

Yet somehow, there is no one else in the world that can provide an accurate real-time snapshot of how their workforce is feeling! The creation and use of Rhonda have allowed IMI to manage thousands of employees by triaging problems when they occur – avoiding conflict and maintaining healthy relationships between employees and employers.

Employee loyalty is a crucial component in filling the skills gap. People stay where their employers care for them and it’s much more rewarding to fill positions with people you’ve trained yourself over time.

Culture in Branding

Everyone wants to be a part of something big. Identity is something that gives people pride. When someone is asked where they work, they want to be proud of their answer. But what is it that makes someone proud to say where they work?

IMI’s culture is their way of building an identity. The igniting force behind their branding is the aim to create a family-feel bond. Initiatives like their Employee-of-the-Week Program and Referral Program, as well as onboarding packages filled IMI-branded gear like hard hats, hard-hat stickers, t-shirts, and safety vests, are a few of the ways IMI uses culture to give employees a reason to be proud of where they work.

In an attempt to excite people about the trades again, IMI is bringing in elements that work from a corporate-level and are applying them to the shipping and handling industry. In the end, people just want to feel like they are cared for and there’s the opportunity to grow at their job. So maybe the cure to the labor crisis is as simple as IMI is making it – by creating a place people want to work.

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