The Manufacturing Institute’s Center for Manufacturing Research and national CPA and advisory firm BKD released results from their fall survey of small and medium-sized manufacturers. This semiannual survey looks at workforce impacts and the “new normal” for manufacturers with 500 or fewer employees. The inaugural survey was released in February.

Key survey findings include the following:
• Nearly 79% of SMMs have enhanced workplace safety measures and requirements since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
• More than 71% of respondents said their firms had not received any resistance or hesitance to returning to work.
• Fifty-six percent noted a need for increased worker flexibility, and roughly half had reevaluated what work could be done remotely where possible. With that, 41% said that their business was working to reengineer the production process with social distancing in mind.

“Small and medium-sized manufacturers have needed to be pragmatic and flexible in the face of extraordinary challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Center for Manufacturing Research Director and National Association of Manufacturers Chief Economist Chad Moutray. “The battle for employees is intense right now, and small business leaders have stressed the importance of being flexible in a safe and healthy workplace environment. Adding to the worker challenge, the adoption of new technologies has continued to alter the worker profile and the types of training and upskilling that are required in a modern shop floor environment. This survey underscores the mission of Creators Wanted, the joint campaign of the MI and NAM to build the workforce of tomorrow—and excite, educate and empower a new generation of creators in the United States today.”

“It has been said by many that the pace of change will never be as slow as it is now, meaning future changes will continue at a more rapid rate and on a continuous basis,” said BKD, LLP Partner John Mather. “As seen in the key findings noted below and in the details of the fall survey, many companies do not have a solid handle on what is the “new normal” as it varies by company and seemingly changes every day. What is prevalent is that supply chain concerns and the ability to attract, train and retain employees continue to be the two top challenges facing manufacturers today. As already noted by Chad Moutray, the Creators Wanted campaign exemplifies and supports the need to build the next generation of manufacturing leaders.”

To view the full survey, visit For more information, visit