Staffing your cleanroom in a post-COVID world

The COVID-19 pandemic created instability in the job force. For many workers, this meant layoffs and reduced hours. For cleanroom personnel, it also meant a shift in where their skills were most needed

Many cleanroom assembly workers left their positions to fill demands for essential supplies. As the world recovers, you may face new challenges in hiring and retaining talent for your organisation’s cleanroom. Here’s how cleanroom employers can stay ahead of the curve, fill cleanroom positions with skilled workers, and avoid costly production lag.

Rethink prerequisite qualifications

Of course, candidates with prior cleanroom experience on their resumes will make it to the top of the list. However, employers can cast a wider net by focusing on strengths necessary for efficient cleanroom tasks. Applicants with the following qualifications have the potential to be proficient cleanroom assembly workers:

  • Experience with Good Manufacturing Practices
  • Experience with FDA-regulated food handling
  • IPC-610 or J-STD certifications for assembly work1
  • Manual dexterity
  • Eye for detail
  • Ability to follow strict protocols

It’s not essential for candidates to have cleanroom experience in your specific industry. Candidates with the right background can be trained in the specific methods for your company’s needs.

Establishing a high-quality training program will ensure that workers keep the cleanroom in compliance with ISO 14644 standards.2 It is also a great way to retain valuable cleanroom personnel. Training for your cleanroom best practices should include:

  • Personal hygiene expectations
  • Protocol for entering the cleanroom
  • Protocol for personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Cleaning procedures

You can also consider industry-recognised certification programs for your personnel like those offered by the National Environmental Balancing Bureau.3

Focus on retention

Retaining quality personnel will save your company time and money. Invest in retention initiatives now to save on future expenses that come with talent sourcing, onboarding, and production lag.

The most obvious method for keeping staff on board is to offer a competitive salary and benefits. Many companies also offer long-term incentive plans and employee loyalty bonuses.

Employees are motivated to stick with companies that offer clear opportunities for advancement. Staggered training and certification program initiatives show employees that they have a future with your company.

Finally, companies are restructuring the climate and culture of their organisation to accommodate a post-COVID job market. Employees have new concerns surrounding personal safety, public transportation, and child care. U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that in January of 2020, Around 10 million U.S. mothers living with their own school-age children were not actively working in January — 1.4 million more than during the same month last year.4 This significant population may be attracted to jobs that offer more flexible schedules.

Companies can conduct surveys or individual meetings to identify and address the specific needs of their employees.

Future projections for cleanroom assembly workers

While many assembly line workers are being replaced by robots, cleanroom assemblers are still in demand. Humans remain necessary to perform intricate work in the cleanroom environment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for electronic assemblers, for example, will increase one percent between 2019 and 2029, resulting in the creation of 4,200 new jobs.5

While the future for cleanroom assembly looks promising, companies also have post-coronavirus recovery quit rates to contend with. Quit rates have climbed faster than job openings, and the overall labor force participation rate (61.4%) descended to a 43-year low.6

The bottom line: efforts to attract and retain high-quality cleanroom staff remain as high a priority now as ever.

Resources:

  1. ipc.org/ipc-certifications
  2. iso.org/standard/53394.html
  3. nebb.org/certified/nebbs_certification_program/
  4. census.gov/library/stories/2021/03/moms-work-and-the-pandemic.html
  5. bls.gov/ooh/production/assemblers-and-fabricators.htm#tab-6
  6. bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/labor-force-participation-rate-down-employment-population-ratio-little-changed-in-september.htm

Featured Companies

Sure-BioChem (more information, website)