It’s hard to believe it’s almost Thanksgiving and for many of us, this holiday will be very different.

My Thanksgiving typically starts at my parent’s house and ends at the in-laws. This year it will be celebrated at home with my husband and our two sons, and thanks to technology, we’ll still connect with our extended family for the holiday. Our 2020 Thanksgiving plan brings another major change – I’ll be doing all the cooking!

As I began to work on the menu for the big dinner, I couldn’t help but think about the front-line manufacturing employees who have consistently shown up during these past months of uncertainty to help make our Thanksgiving dinner a reality – and for that, I’m very grateful.

Here are 4 reasons to be thankful for the manufacturing workforce this Thanksgiving:

1. They make Thanksgiving dinner possible

When you think about the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, the amount of food that is consumed in one day is staggering. Let’s start with turkey. According to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, Americans eat about 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving! And how about those mashed potatoes? According to the National Grocers Association, Americans will buy about 214 million pounds of potatoes for the holiday. What does this mean for manufacturers? It means that they need to make sure these products are available to be purchased at your local grocery store when you need them. 

The pandemic has brought added complexities to manufacturing. Enhanced health and safety procedures, new compliance requirements and internal policies, as well as, fluctuations in labor availability. During these uncertain times, manufacturers have had to shift their practices and find new ways to quickly deploy or flex labor as needed to ensure that the supply chain can keep running.  

2. They play a pivotal role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic

In May, I wrote a blog which highlighted several manufacturers who had quickly shifted typical production capabilities to meet increased demand for certain products – such as hand sanitizer. Months later, manufacturers continue to repurpose their raw materials, flex their workforce, and pivot operations in order to meet the needs of our front-line health care workers, hospitals, and COVID-19 patients. And now with recent developments in the race for a vaccine, manufacturers are thinking about how to help with storage and distribution and may soon pivot their operations once again.  

3. They adapt and learn new skills to drive business continuity 

If learning a new skill or trying something different at work was a New Year’s resolution– chances are many front-line manufacturing workers can check that off their lists. 

The COVID-19 pandemic led to fluctuations in labor availability, which required many manufacturing organizations to think creatively about how to keep operations running with fewer people. This led to an investment in training and development and upskilling of the available workforce. Over the last several months, many front-line employees have taken on increased responsibilities, learned new skills or taken on new job roles to ensure production goals are met and quality is maintained.

4. They care about the global community

While these unprecedented times have been challenging, the selflessness that many have demonstrated to help one another is remarkable. Despite heightened concerns about personal health and safety, manufacturing workers across the world have shown up day after day to ensure the global community have the goods needed to thrive in our daily lives. 

I’d like to share one heartwarming example of a group of manufacturing employees who went to great lengths to support the fight against COVID-19.  At the Braskem plant near Philadelphia, more than 40 employees volunteered to live on site for 28 days to help make polypropylene, a raw material used to make N95 masks, protective medical gowns and other gear. 

This selfless act by the manufacturing workforce is just one of many reasons we should all be grateful for them during this challenging year. 

This Thanksgiving, whether you’re enjoying a turkey dinner, trying a new tradition, or leveraging technology to connect with your loved ones, it’s apparent that there is much to be thankful for. 

On behalf of the UKG family, I wish you and your loved ones a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Published: Monday, November 23, 2020