If your organization is experiencing higher than normal employee turnover, it’s time to take stock of your employer brand and see how you stack up against your competition in key areas. We’ve analyzed what leads Canadian workers in the manufacturing sector to leave their job. According to our employer branding research, employers in the manufacturing sector have some of the highest turnover rates in Canada. 

Last year, 22% of manufacturing workers changed jobs, compared to 18% across all sectors. Another 29% said they’re planning on leaving their job within the next year. That means almost half (47%) of workers in the manufacturing sector have either recently changed jobs or are planning to soon. That’s a huge turnover rate. Reducing your turnover even a small amount can have a huge impact on employee morale. It can also significantly reduce your costs related to recruitment, onboarding and training.

We’ve compiled the top 5 reasons workers in the manufacturing sector choose to leave their job.


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1. lack of purpose

Everyone wants to feel proud of the work they do and feel like they’re contributing to something worthwhile, and that’s no different in the manufacturing sector. If workers believe what they do is unimportant or meaningless, they’re more likely to feel disconnected from it. When employees have a very niche role focused on one repetitive task, it can be especially challenging to see how their day-to-day work is meaningful. To counter this issue, ensure that workers understand how their work plays into larger company goals, and try to build a variety of tasks into roles wherever possible. Regularly offer employees training to help them learn new skills, and ask them how they feel about their work. Foster an environment where workers feel they can be honest about challenges and discontentment they’re facing. If employees are punished for expressing their thoughts, you might not even know they were unhappy until they’ve quit.

2. low salaries

The manufacturing sector isn’t known for its top-tier salaries. Even a small pay bump in this sector can make a huge difference to workers. $37,500 was the median salary in the manufacturing sector last year, making it one of the lowest paying sectors in Canada. According to our research, 71% of workers who switched jobs in the manufacturing sector received a pay increase at their new job. The raises are often substantial. 17% said their pay went up by 16-20%. Another 26% said their pay went up 6-15%. Offering annual salary increases and ensuring that you’re compensating workers at or above market rates can help you boost your retention. Pay increases to workers often offset the substantial costs of constantly replacing and training workers.

3. poor relationship with their manager

It’s often said that employees quit managers, not companies. That’s true in the manufacturing sector, too. Bad management can transform an otherwise rewarding job into a nightmare. Bad management can take many forms. From a lack of guidance, to micromanaging, to belittling employees, there are lots of types of bad managers. A bad manager can poison your ability to retain great employees and kill your turnover rates. If you’re finding that some teams have an unusually high turnover rate, it’s worth taking a look at your management and ensuring that they have the proper training and leadership style to support your business. It’s critical to carefully select and train your leaders to ensure they mesh with your employees and support your organizational goals.

4. the benefits aren’t attractive

71% of Canadian manufacturing workers said that non-monetary benefits are important to them in our survey. Yet the gap between what workers look for and what employers offer is stark. The top benefits workers in the manufacturing sector look for:

  • 82% want additional vacation benefits, yet only 40% receive them
  • 82% want healthcare, yet only 57% receive them
  • 75%  flexible working hours, yet only 44% receive them
  • 74% life insurance, yet only 65% receive them

If your organization is able to offer any of these benefits that manufacturing workers are looking for, you have an instant way to differentiate your company from your competitors.

5. mismatch between personal and organizational values

Though the work environment and company values might seem like minor things, they can play an enormous role in how happy employees are at work, even in the manufacturing sector. Full-time workers spend 8+ hours a day at work. That’s a lot of time, more than most people spend on any other activity besides sleeping! So fit is important. Younger workers, especially, are prioritizing a work culture they believe in, sometimes even over their salary. If they don’t mesh with their coworkers, or believe that the company’s values are compatible with theirs, they’re likely to move on sooner rather than later. Be upfront about your company’s goals and what’s important to your organization from the very first interview. There’s no point in enticing a new employee to work for your organization, only for them to find out that they’re not right for the role and quit.

looking for insights on managing your workforce and reducing your employee turnover in the manufacturing sector? download our guide on how to help your workforce reach its full potential.

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