X-FAB Tackles Workforce Challenges in Chip Manufacturing with Fab Owners Alliance Support

By Nishita Rao

Now, more than ever, semiconductor companies are relying on their human resources departments to ensure employee safety, support facility access and hygiene measures, cope with staffing demands and incorporate the rapidly evolving guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the local state and city mandates.

SEMI spoke with Crystal Reich, HR manager at X-FAB Texas, about her participation in the Fab Owners Alliance (FOA) human resources group and the value of collaborating with industry peers on a broad spectrum of topics: from focusing on specific areas such as ensuring employee safety and managing the workforce during a pandemic, to addressing broader organizational challenges such as benchmarking activities and identifying compensation and staffing best practices.

SEMI: How did you learn about the FOA human resources group?

Reich: I have been part of the FOA HR group since its inception in 2012. Lloyd Whetzel, the CEO at X-FAB Texas, has been very involved with the FOA for several years. When this group was being formed, he let me know about it. I came to the first meeting and have been a part of it ever since.

SEMI: What does your participation in the FOA human resources group allow you and your company to do differently?

Reich: I am also involved with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), but the FOA HR group provides an excellent opportunity for semiconductor industry HR professionals to collaborate. The group not only covers topics that are specific to the semiconductor industry but also discusses broader topics related to preserving employee well-being during unprecedented challenging times, managing negative emotions, establishing appropriate political expression policies, and creating safe spaces for dialogue. Also, the benchmarking has been fantastic, especially from a compensation and staffing standpoint. It allows us to identify best-in-class recruitment strategies, determine any shortfalls and use this information to improve employee onboarding and development. In addition to discussing these types of issues and trends, we compare and benchmark other HR issues such as policy deployment and legislative trends with colleagues in the industry.

SEMI: What are some of the key topics and activities that the FOA HR group has helped you focus on?

Reich: X-FAB has been involved in a variety of activities at SEMI. Through the SEMI High Tech U program, we have been able to help college-bound high school students in our community access STEM curriculum and explore careers in technology. We have devised more robust military outreach strategies with the help of the Veterans Program at SEMI, allowing us to recruit and retain excellent technicians from the military. Additionally, benchmarking activities within the FOA HR group have helped us improve our talent acquisition process – especially for positions which are challenging to fill.

SEMI: The pandemic brought many significant and unprecedented challenges that affected business continuity. How did your company’s participation in the FOA help you navigate these changes?

Reich: The FOA has been a great help in addressing the challenges of the global pandemic across several operational collaborative teams. In the early days of the pandemic, as employees moved to remote work, FOA organized a forum that allowed members to share how they dealt with this transition. Constantly changing guidelines and protocols meant that FOA members leaned on each other more than ever to share best practices and lessons from new safety process implementations. FOA offered survey and area-specific team activities, cross-functional operational sessions, and round table discussions at its 2020 Q4 meeting, where members exchanged ideas on how business processes changed during this period and shared what they were doing to ensure business continuity. This provided another excellent opportunity for FOA members to benchmark best practices within the semiconductor industry.

SEMI: Would you recommend your peers to join the FOA HR group?

Reich: I would highly recommend HR colleagues in the semiconductor industry join this collaborative group. It is a great platform to share ideas, learn from each other, and benchmark with other colleagues in the same industry.

The FOA HR Metrics survey is a comprehensive survey covering several different areas within the HR discipline such as compensation, learning and development, tool training, corporate social responsibility, and many others. True to the nature of the FOA, the survey is a result of the collaboration between several HR professionals from Device Maker member companies.

Please contact Shilpa Talwalkar at FOA@semi.org if you would like to participate.

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