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In our upcoming 3D People podcast, following the release of our 2021 Salary Survey Report, our Founder and CEO, Nick Pearce, and Director and Podcast Host, Iulia Oprea, discuss some of the hot topics that fueled the content for the report. As you would expect, COVID-19 took center stage as it has, like with all industries, caused a major impact on the state of the talent market in AM. But, not to worry! The report shows that the additive manufacturing industry is in fact looking up– a sentiment echoed by Nick Pearce, who stated in our podcast: “From an employment standpoint, we are through the worst of the crisis.” This should come as a relief for many, but what does that mean for employers and employees who offered or took jobs during the pandemic? And how has this impacted the salaries and the overall satisfaction of employees in the market? 


Unemployment in the Additive Manufacturing Industry

It is the first time in 6 years, that we at Alexander Daniels Global have seen “unemployment” in the AM market. Based on the most recent survey report, there is currently a 20:1 candidate to job ratio in North America, and an even higher 24:1 candidate to job ratio in Europe. What this means for the job market is that the power is no longer in the candidates’ hands; employers have had the liberty to set the bar this time instead of the candidate, advertising vacancies at salaries sometimes $20,000-30,000 lower than pre-pandemic, and candidates have been taking them on.

Some questions we ask ourselves at this point are:

  • Are these lowered salaries a trend? Will we see this leading towards a standardization of salaries in the industry?



  • And since the industry is rapidly heading out of the crisis, leading to hiring thaws, will a candidate who settled for less start searching for more?

Let us delve a little deeper.

The Impact of Job Uncertainty on the Current Market

A standardization of salaries is something that still seems relatively far-fetched, especially within such an adolescent industry, but certainly it is something we can hope for in future, we will be looking forward to seeing what the 2022 Salary Survey Report might reveal about that. However, in looking at the potential for employees to change jobs, let us start by referring to the numbers – our 2021 salary survey report uncovered the following:

  • 50% of AM professionals were either extremely likely or very likely to leave their job within the next 12 months and a further 24% were unsure.

What could be triggering this? As a result of job uncertainty following redundancies, furloughs and in some cases budget cuts (due to COVID), it would seem an opportune moment to start casting the net out in search of security elsewhere. Opposingly, the results can also be explained by growth in the AM industry creating new opportunities and causing professionals to want to expand their experience into different areas of the sector. Perhaps someone working in a start-up is wondering what it would mean to work in a larger, corporate organisation and vice versa.

Whichever may be the cause, there are a few things that employers should bear in mind when it comes to maintaining employee satisfaction, and we will explore those now in our Top 5 Tips for Employee Retention, so get out your pen and paper and prepare to take some notes on how you compare to our findings and suggestions:

Tip #1 – Make Sure You are Offering Enough Opportunities for Career Progression

One of the areas covered in our 2021 Salary Survey Report was employee satisfaction. Through the responses we gathered, we started to see an outline forming of the points that were most highly regarded by AM professionals in the industry. Ranking #1 we saw that salary is no longer the most important thing to your employees, but rather the chance for career progression.

So, ask yourself, are you or your business offering employees the opportunity to grow and progress? With 60% of respondents agreeing that it was either very important or important to them, it may be something to consider in your next business review. Internal career progression could look like anything from internal promotions to up-skilling your team through relevant industry courses and seminars. It is important to recognise the strengths in your employees and nurture them. An employee who feels recognised and appreciated for their efforts in their business is more likely to stay loyal to said business. Remember: investing in your team, is investing in your business.

Tip #2 – Measure the Financial Compensation You are Offering Your Employees

Ranking #2 in our Salary Survey Report was…you guessed it…salary. Now, as mentioned earlier in this post, and as many of you are probably aware, salaries in additive manufacturing are far from consistent. Where one company may compensate an R&D specialist with a salary of $100,000, another may be offering $130,000. This leaves potential talent the freedom to set the bar for what is expected from industry salaries. As great as it is for the talent, it does not leave much room for a balance to be found in the market.

This is why we at Alexander Daniels Global work to create the annual Salary Survey Report for you, in the industry, to gain an insight into what the averages are, year on year, in respect to salary, discipline, location and satisfaction of employers/employees. You are therefore able to use this report as a tool when it comes to salary benchmarking, especially in cases of recruitment into the business, alongside consultation from specialised recruitment agencies, or alongside market research, to help you level out the playing field and work towards ‘normalisation’ of the salaries we currently see in the talent market.

If you think you are already compensating your employees fairly, it may still be worth considering this tip for future, should you be hiring soon.

Tip #3 – Is the Power of ‘Why’ Reflected in Your Work Culture and Environment?

If you’ve ever heard of Simon Sinek, you may recognise the intent of tip #3. ‘The Power of Why’ written by American Author, Simon Sinek, talks about the importance of knowing your ‘What’, ‘How’ and most crucially, ‘Why’ of your organisation. The ‘Why’ concerns the reasons behind what your business does. It all always starts with a belief, an idea, a passion or a set of values that helped to build an organisation from the ground up, and as it grows, it can become easy to forget where the roots of the business were planted.

So, tip #3 is all about asking yourself the question: “Do we, as an organisation, promote internally that which we stand for and believe in? Are my employees and colleagues able to explain with conviction why we do what we do?”

If your answer is no, perhaps it’s time to brainstorm some ways that you can use this to improve the environment and work culture that you create for your employees. What is it that you value? And how can you work to promote that from within? Perhaps it’s through finding ways to stay more connected through this period of remote working, through mapping in time for catch up meetings between managers and teams or something as simple as allowing employees to manage their own schedules to optimise the way they work. Within Alexander Daniels Global, we can proudly claim that which ties us together is the belief that 3D printing will change the World, and we recognise that every effort we put towards realising that belief – whether in the form of consulting, management, recruitment, or marketing communications – is equally supported and celebrated.

As business is all about people, internally and externally, you mustn’t forget to ‘refill that well’ every now and again – figuratively speaking of course. Promoting your company message internally and celebrating the strengths of the individuals in your team is a good place to start.

Tip #4 – Optimise the Benefits Offered to Your Employees

Every organisation has certain benefits they offer their employees, and usually these benefits do not vary drastically from business to business. We are talking about paid sick days, private healthcare or 401Ks, perhaps a company car or in some cases relocation packages. All great offers, and also points highly regarded by respondents to our Salary Survey, but let us turn to what respondents voted as the most desirable workplace benefit:

In first place, with 75% of respondents marking it as attractive, was flexible working hours and working from home. Thanks to COVID-19 we have all had a taste of the good life – working from home, managing our own schedules, and surprisingly still meeting deadlines and hitting targets. For some it has been a saving grace, for others it has felt like an eternity in purgatory. Difficulties faced by AM professionals following the introduction of homeworking range from loneliness due to lack of human interaction, to technology issues and poor work environments – things we have all been touched by. On the positive side, however, the benefits of working from home for AM professionals range from no need to commute, to better work-life balance and increased independence. So, it is without surprise that 44% of respondents voted that they would prefer working from home, albeit from time to time.

This seems to be the direction that the World is heading, especially with projects such as the Hoxby Foundation’s ‘Workstyle Revolution’ initiative, which is promoting part-time, flexible working from home schedules to be introduced to workplaces, replacing the standard, droning 9-5 work schedule that has dominated for decades.

Ask yourself, “do I, or does my organisation, promote flexible working schedules – in terms of work hours or days spent in the office – and do I, or they, recognise me or my colleagues for their individual and unique working styles?” This should give you some ideas for what you can do to make the work environment you offer that much more attractive to your employees.

If you are interested in reading more about the Hoxby Foundation’s Workstyle Revolution, you can follow this link here:

Tip #5 – Create a Really Great On-Boarding Process for New Employees

An age-old adage talks to the importance of starting every relationship as you mean to go on. That is something equally applicable to the work relationships we enter into. As vital as it is that you, the employer, finds the perfect fit for the role, as equally important is it for a candidate deciding whether you offer the best career move for them. Sealing the deal with a well-thought out on-boarding process would not only allow a new hire to feel welcomed, but also celebrated and instantly valued for their new presence in your company.

That on-boarding process could look like anything from a document or company ‘bible’ that helps them to get settled in with the way things work, or if you don’t have the time or resources to get something like that set up, a great alternative would be a branded company welcome gift and a helpful card of go-to contacts for the questions they may have as they get started in their new position. Being thoughtful never fails.

It’s certainly something to consider.

So, there we have it, our top 5 tips for employee retention. Many of the points raised throughout this post are based off of findings from our 2021 Salary Survey Report, which you are welcome to download for free for more in-depth analysis of the talent market and industry salaries.

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Additional Resources

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