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Bad luck hiring experienced employees

g0Jack

New member
I manage a small job shop with 12 employees, most of which have been trained on-site and didn't know a thing about machining until they started here. We're slowly growing and needing to hire more people, but we're having a lot of issues when it comes to hiring experienced machinists. The last 4-5 people we've hired haven't worked out as they were way too slow setting up. I know setup times are a tricky subject and largely depend on the machine & part complexity etc., but I'm talking about fairly simple repeat jobs that have been setup time and time again in just a couple of hours - yet newly hired "experienced" guys are taking like 12 hours or sometimes DAYS to set these jobs up.

We find that the guys we trained in-house are running circles around these other guys we're hiring with 20-30 years experience.
On paper they all seem to really know their stuff, and they certainly look the part with their fancy kennedy rollers that they bring in stocked full of tools- but in reality I just don't get how they've been surviving all this time at other shops given their setup times & work ethic. If I were quoting jobs at the time it's taking them I'd never win a bid again - not to mention these guys want paid like $30/hr which is significantly higher than most of our employees. At this price tag we almost expect them to be able to teach us a thing or two, but it's the opposite.

It's been the same experience with the last 4-5 guys we've hired and I'm starting to feel crazy. Wondering if anyone else has had similar issues.
 

Gobo

New member
We see the same thing. In fact, so much of it that we have given up on finding experienced employees that work out. The ex-Boeing guys are the worst. They talk big, but mostly do not know shit. Or they will want to reinvent the wheel on repeat jobs that run great the way we are currently doing it. The road from total inexperience to knowledgeable, competent employee is a long one, but it can pay off.
 

DouglasJRizzo

Active member
My experience has been that there's always a "break in" period with new people no matter how experienced or talented they may be.
To me the issue would be after that period.
Every shop has its own dynamic and with it, it's own "heartbeat" and there's an adjustment period.
However, to directly address your question, yeah, I've unfortunately been disappointed with people who claim decades of experience only to see a
sub standard work ethic or distinct lack of motivation or willingness/ability to learn.
 
I don't know COL in your area, but how many other industries can you expect a skilled employee with 30 YOE for $60k/year and then call it high pay? It also sounds like your interview process is not sufficient for predicting employee skill.

-Most places I've been higher employees into 3 groups:
Young inexperienced people who are comparatively cheap. Hired based on eagerness and ability to learn.

-Mid to late career people who just need to crank things out. Every now and then you get a great one, but many are just a smidge better than the younger ones, and are payed just a smidge better.

-Late career experts, but they cost an arm and a leg. Those who are late career but really have 5 years of experience 6 times over are on the same wrung as the mid career employees.

Differentiating between the latter two is the hard part.

Unless you're in a really rural area, I'd be worried about retaining those you have trained up and are keeping for significantly lower than $30/hour.
 

mhajicek

Active member
I'd say it's part break-in-period as mentioned above, and part most good people are already in stable jobs.
 

Trueturning

Active member
I manage a small job shop with 12 employees, most of which have been trained on-site and didn't know a thing about machining until they started here. We're slowly growing and needing to hire more people, but we're having a lot of issues when it comes to hiring experienced machinists. The last 4-5 people we've hired haven't worked out as they were way too slow setting up. I know setup times are a tricky subject and largely depend on the machine & part complexity etc., but I'm talking about fairly simple repeat jobs that have been setup time and time again in just a couple of hours - yet newly hired "experienced" guys are taking like 12 hours or sometimes DAYS to set these jobs up.

We find that the guys we trained in-house are running circles around these other guys we're hiring with 20-30 years experience.
On paper they all seem to really know their stuff, and they certainly look the part with their fancy kennedy rollers that they bring in stocked full of tools- but in reality I just don't get how they've been surviving all this time at other shops given their setup times & work ethic. If I were quoting jobs at the time it's taking them I'd never win a bid again - not to mention these guys want paid like $30/hr which is significantly higher than most of our employees. At this price tag we almost expect them to be able to teach us a thing or two, but it's the opposite.

It's been the same experience with the last 4-5 guys we've hired and I'm starting to feel crazy. Wondering if anyone else has had similar issues.

Sorry to hear of the trouble. I will not discuss the drivers of this as they have been covered a lot recently quite a bit. No one enjoys the prospect of dealing with this growing problem which is understandable.

With repeat jobs it should be very understandable given there are proven programs and a valid setup sheet with tooling list. These should at a point in time not need any changes at all once the job has been proven out which includes a setup folder with complete instructions.

How is your documentation of instructions given to the operator when they are given a job? That could be a area of improvement for many shops. I only mention this based on my observations and input over time.

Good luck.
 

Mebfab

Moderator
first, I have found that it takes a few months to settle in and not make a mess of things. It shouldnt be an issue. A machine isa machine. But for some reason changing jobs from one shop to another really screws me up for a while.

Second, the Walmart warehouse is now paying $24 an hour to work the freezer with a $200 bi monthly bonus for perfect attendance/punctuality. We will never attract another person worth having into the trade until things change.
 

quadzilla87

New member
Its a similar phenomenon to "The dance of the lemons" They go from one shop to the next as soon as someone figures out their incompetence or laziness. When someone thinks they've "done their time" and deserve to coast until retirement is about the time they begin their dance of short stints often getting paid more and more each time.
 

M.B. Naegle

Active member
Same problem for us as well. Every guy we hire we expect to need to train, so really all their years running machines or programming stuff is helpfull to know, but doesn't make the decision. We look for the usual stuff when hiring people, but when we start doing call-backs is when the real information comes out. We do a quick shop floor hands on test to get a bearing of where their basic works skills lie: Can they read a mic? How many 12" long parts will come out of a stick that's exactly 36"? We've had guys turn up their noses at stuff like that, but IMO I'm grateful they weeded themselves out, because those same guys won't want to listen when they "know everything."
 

mhajicek

Active member
How is your documentation of instructions given to the operator when they are given a job? That could be a area of improvement for many shops. I only mention this based on my observations and input over time.

Good luck.

Good point. Could be the shop has done the job a thousand times, and some people know it like the back of their hand, but to a new guy, without proper documentation and instruction, it's starting from scratch.
 

g0Jack

New member
I don't know COL in your area, but how many other industries can you expect a skilled employee with 30 YOE for $60k/year and then call it high pay? It also sounds like your interview process is not sufficient for predicting employee skill.

-Most places I've been higher employees into 3 groups:
Young inexperienced people who are comparatively cheap. Hired based on eagerness and ability to learn.

-Mid to late career people who just need to crank things out. Every now and then you get a great one, but many are just a smidge better than the younger ones, and are payed just a smidge better.

-Late career experts, but they cost an arm and a leg. Those who are late career but really have 5 years of experience 6 times over are on the same wrung as the mid career employees.

Differentiating between the latter two is the hard part.

Unless you're in a really rural area, I'd be worried about retaining those you have trained up and are keeping for significantly lower than $30/hour.

This is certainly a tricky one. We're in Idaho which has been booming like crazy.. COL has been going up and up but wages haven't caught up yet.
All the posts on indeed in my area are offering $17 - $25/hr with min 5 years experience. We've bumped our guys up to the higher end of that to try and stay competitive with the area (I might've exaggerated the pay gap between the new hires and our existing employees). We're working on increasing our shop rate etc. so we can do even better than that.
 

Trueturning

Active member
Good point. Could be the shop has done the job a thousand times, and some people know it like the back of their hand, but to a new guy, without proper documentation and instruction, it's starting from scratch.

Well you know what in most any shop I have ever worked in the fact that people come in not knowing much is the rule really. A lot of times I have seen them come in and believing or acting like they can do whatever too. Helping them do what is needed always helps a lot especially if a set up folder explains enough to leave a experienced man to his project and not tied up with these other fellows.

I can’t blame a man for wanting a job at all. Most shops try to get use out of such fellows and it usually works out if it is allowed that the person is teachable. Teachable is a relative term here because even so many are not very bright. CNC machines set up and running are ok for these guys and because they are what is used now a days often nothing much besides loading machines and tending them is needed.

The experienced people set up the jobs and programmed the jobs selecting tooling and processing with a programmer computer fellow or not. We did not expect the majority of the operators to do all that.
 

McClure Machine

New member
I manage a small job shop with 12 employees, most of which have been trained on-site and didn't know a thing about machining until they started here. We're slowly growing and needing to hire more people, but we're having a lot of issues when it comes to hiring experienced machinists. The last 4-5 people we've hired haven't worked out as they were way too slow setting up. I know setup times are a tricky subject and largely depend on the machine & part complexity etc., but I'm talking about fairly simple repeat jobs that have been setup time and time again in just a couple of hours - yet newly hired "experienced" guys are taking like 12 hours or sometimes DAYS to set these jobs up.

We find that the guys we trained in-house are running circles around these other guys we're hiring with 20-30 years experience.
On paper they all seem to really know their stuff, and they certainly look the part with their fancy kennedy rollers that they bring in stocked full of tools- but in reality I just don't get how they've been surviving all this time at other shops given their setup times & work ethic. If I were quoting jobs at the time it's taking them I'd never win a bid again - not to mention these guys want paid like $30/hr which is significantly higher than most of our employees. At this price tag we almost expect them to be able to teach us a thing or two, but it's the opposite.

It's been the same experience with the last 4-5 guys we've hired and I'm starting to feel crazy. Wondering if anyone else has had similar issues.

I am guessing you are speaking of a mfg environment. I am sure I will also get a lot of flack from my reply here.
I think your problem may be coming from what the definition of a machinist is.
A lot of people are classed as machinist but they only run one type of machine, one type of machine control, and have made limited number of parts in their careers.
Other machinist have run a number of different machines and parts on cnc machines know how to program and do set up.
Others still can operate the machine, troubleshoot the machine, troubleshoot the process, etc.
Still others can design the part, spec material, cutters, wear compensation, total part program, etc.
These are all considered machinist. But have vastly different skills and knowledge.
Then you have to look at your shop, if you bring in someone from a major mfg they have special work holding fixtures, and dedicated zero points. They have never had to work with a 5 gallon bucket of strap clamps or there is a bolt bin and a pile of steel just make what you need.
You also have to understand the language in different shops is very different.
I had a guy follow a set up and spent 30 min trying to find t bolts. (We call a t nut and stud a t bolt) wasn't his fault, it was ours of being lazy.
I think you need to clearly define what the actual job requirements are maybe set up a dummy job as part of the interview.
On pay scale 30 per hour might be good pay for a machine operator machinist, but double that at least, if you want to scribble a drawing on a napkin and expect a fully finished part to be handed back.
If you are wanting someone who can design the part, troubleshoot the machine, teach a junior, fix a computer glitch, salvage minor defects in parts, etc. Then you just sign the check and that master will fill in the amount.
You will be competing with every major international company for that person.
From what you have said you don't need the last person, and they are probably not going to be interested in your company, unless you happen to be on a world class trout stream and they are a trout fisherman.
 

john.k

Active member
I had one guy who turned up for interview with an index folder full of employer reference letters ,he pulled a few references from big names ,then he produced a pilots licence.....he cant have been anywhere for more than six months ......anyway,didnt matter ,because he didnt like what he saw in my shop ,and simply left .
 

kustomizer

Active member
I don't think I have walked into a business in most of 2 years that didn't have a help wanted sign in the window and in the last 6 months there are TV commercials that are help wanted ads. I think it is becoming the job of the gray hairs to fill in for the many, many who no longer wish to disrupt their social activities with something so trivial as a job, let alone a career.
 

Radar987

Member
It sounds like your company lacks culture, a training program, and a hiring program.

Hiring a 50+ year old veteran machinist and telling him to have at it is going to give you unpredictable results. Do you even let these guys know what your expectations are?
 

john.k

Active member
Many businesses are opposed to the highly skilled guy who can repair machines,fix programs ,connect with trainees,etc ,etc,...because when the person goes ,they cant be replaced .....The solution is to dumb down the process until anyone can do it.
 

Mark P.

New member
I'm one of those 50 somethings with 30+ years experience. NC horizontal, CNC Vertical, and manual versions of both types of milling. Some lathe and surface grinding experience. My dad taught me how to operate, set up and program the NC. That translated to the vertical when we got our first CNC. We weren't high dollar and didn't always have the correct tooling...but the job got done. I was responsible for any job that was handed to me from start to finish. When we closed, I thought I had a job lined up. The guy didn't like that I was programming using the machine language (Anilam and ShopMill on Siemens)and not G code. He offered me $17.50 an hour. That struck a nerve. 1)Am I good enough to go somewhere else and do this and 2)Do I want to go anywhere else and do this?
 

idacal

Member
Gojack your in idaho i dont know where at im in the treasure valley and i just had a young man thinking about coming to work in well drilling, he has schooling in cnc and welding,but just school, but he paid for those classes the hard way. And the offers he is getting is insulting 15 -16 an hour he would start for me at 22.00 but he would be muddy all day. The company doing the interstate rebuild has a sign out along side the freeway 35.00 an hour for carpenters, doesnt take much to be a carpenter mainly a strong back. The wages here in the valley are going up, the days of 100.00 dollar shop rate are gone. raise your rates so you can pay your guys that are good, enough to stay. And unfortunatly its going to be expensive training someone, lots of dirt is moved to find gold
 
I don't think I have walked into a business in most of 2 years that didn't have a help wanted sign in the window and in the last 6 months there are TV commercials that are help wanted ads. I think it is becoming the job of the gray hairs to fill in for the many, many who no longer wish to disrupt their social activities with something so trivial as a job, let alone a career.

While this is true for many, I think it’s inaccurate for society as a whole. The problem is that those with initiative for a career are also smart enough to know that being in a shop where you make $50k/year 4 years in isn’t anywhere close to the best option.

That’s well below starting salary for any number of degreed fields. While I think a lot of jobs shouldn’t require a degree, and in many cases don’t even benefit from one,that doesn’t change the reality.

If I see someone really good with their hands I tell them that 4 years of effort will get them a job in engineering where they can work with their hands, have air conditioning, and average $32/hour in their first full time job. Put in a few years and that turns into 50/hour pretty easily.

Want to work more with machines? Go mechatronics and +10% on pay.

Zero schooling and want a job that gives you a workout right now? $20ish at Wally World and try to work toward supervisor.

The problem isn’t that people are dumb, lazy, an don’t like dirt under their nails. The problem is that many of the smart and motivated are led elsewhere due to the current economics.

Sort of like why so many great athletes end up in football and basketball instead of water polo, curling, and rock climbing. The money (and with that continued popularity) are there.
 








 
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