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Press Release

New Report Reveals More Flexible Future of Work in Manufacturing

Adaptability and Change Management Will Deliver Competitive Advantages

Arlington, Va. – July 13, 2021 – Talent management will separate how manufacturers perform in the future to levels unimagined before the COVID-19 pandemic. A new report released today, “The Future of Flexible Work in Manufacturing: Workforce Priorities for a Hybrid World,” by Manufacturers Alliance, in collaboration with Aon plc, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, finds five major drivers of success for manufacturers as they shift out of the pandemic and into the future.

  1. Talent acquisition, development, and retention is paramount, with more than half of executives ranking talent availability as a top factor shaping the future of work.
  2. The hybrid work model will prevail for salaried workers in manufacturing, as 80 percent of companies expect to formalize a flexible remote and in-person approach for employees during the next 12 months.
  3. 85 percent of companies are empowering leaders across the organization to define their hybrid models, rejecting an entirely corporate-led approach.
  4. Despite important organizational learning during the pandemic, cultural resistance to change is seen as the biggest barrier to future-of-work strategies and priorities for 59 percent of executives.
  5. Emerging priorities such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) will likely shift to long-term imperatives, as reflected in a ranking of function priorities for leaders in finance, human resources, legal, and compliance.

“As all industries grapple with what the future of work will look like as the country shifts out of the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers have unique perspectives,” notes Stephen Gold, President and CEO at Manufacturers Alliance. “Given their essential businesses, manufacturers had to find ways to continue operating through the worst of the pandemic while others also shifted to work productively remotely. As the country reopens, we see companies implementing what they learned to provide a more attractive workplace that includes defining more flexible work models.”

Another significant finding from the report is the continued acceleration of change with new initiatives underway to further elevate the importance of leadership skills for adaptability. Companies continue to expand their digitalization efforts, particularly focusing on adopting analytics. This trend coincides with the scarcity in digital skills facing the sector for years. Talent shortages are now exacerbated by rising demand, new technologies, and other job opportunities, contributing to near-record levels of openings for the sector in May according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

“We found the report data insightful for manufacturers as they look to improve their competitiveness during this period of economic growth. Unsurprisingly, talent management reigns at the top of the list,” said Yanina Koliren, partner in Aon’s human capital business. “The data in this report provides perspectives on leading HR initiatives as manufaturing companies plan their future-of-work initiatives.”

The Manufacturers Alliance, in collaboration with Aon, surveyed nearly 400 human resources and function leaders in manufacturing to understand strategy, organizational and department priorities, barriers, and tactics for change management for the next 1-3 years. The report provides data insights to help leaders compare their readiness on the dimensions of the post-pandemic future of work, including areas of change and continuity for the workforce.


About Manufacturers Alliance Foundation 

Manufacturers Alliance Foundation is the 501(c)(3) partner of Manufacturers Alliance. The Alliance Foundation provides educational opportunities for the manufacturing community and its stakeholders through insights, events, and tools for today’s most critical business decisions. The Alliance Foundation focuses on talent, technology, digital transformation, and competitiveness. Learn more about the Alliance Foundation:


About Manufacturers Alliance

Manufacturers Alliance powers leaders. We bring together an unparalleled network of manufacturing executives to advance their careers, grow their companies, and support the whole community. We accomplish our mission through peer communities, education, and business insights on the topics that matter most to the sector. In our 88th year, we continue to drive the manufacturing community to be smarter, faster, and better. Learn more:


Media contact:

Stephen Gold

Manufacturers Alliance