Engagement with front-line employees should be a priority for those in the manufacturing sector.
Engaged employees are exceedingly important to an organization’s culture and operations. They think critically, know what the company stands for, and work to develop themselves and keep the organization moving in the right direction. While engagement varies from industry to industry, profession to profession, the manufacturing sector has its own challenges.
While manufacturing continues to specialize, there’s still a disconnect in many markets between those leading the organization and the employees on the production line. Many of these employees (76% according to Gallup) aren’t engaged in their work on a daily basis.
Those who aren’t engaged or actively disengaged lack an emotional connection to their workplace and profession, and might go as far as to work against the interests of their co-workers or employer. These employees are more likely to miss workdays and “go through the motions” on an average day, leading to higher turnover, safety issues, and lower morale for those around them (and cost US companies up to $550 Billion in lost productivity per year).
While not everyone working in manufacturing or production is actively disengaged in their work, the lack of engagement is troubling, and prevents both the individual and their employer from developing and forming stronger relationships.
Here are 7 Things Management can do NOW to improve the Engagement Rate with their Manufacturing Employees.
- Share goals with employees. Transparency into strategy and high-level decision making brings context to the jobs everyone is doing, and creates a more trusting, open culture.
- Involve them in continuous improvement. Empower employees to think critically and find areas where inefficiencies exist and costs can be saved on a consistent basis.
- Provide feedback for performance. Don’t set personal goals and assign responsibilities without engaging employees to follow up on their progress, problems, and ideas.
- Offer opportunities for advancement. Not every employee is “management-material” but team leadership roles provide opportunities for employees to obtain more responsibilities and serve as a voice for their co-workers.
- Listen to feedback and ideas. A larger focus on transparency should spark more ideas and insights from production employees, so encourage thought and act on the observations they make.
- Collaborate across teams and departments. Bring together production, marketing, sales, and more for specific brainstorming sessions to exchange ideas and build comradery company-wide. This can be easily implemented with the help of collaborative tools such as idea management software.
- Provide different rewards and incentives. Apart from role-based performance, set “soft” objectives and goals for teams and individuals to recognize things like most/best new ideas suggested.
While the engagement rate for manufacturing is cause for concern, there’s no reason it can’t be improved, but it’s on management to improve their engagement rate with their employees first. By providing new opportunities, promoting collaboration and communication, and assigning new responsibilities, employees can contribute more than their production output. Manufacturing employees are the ones on the front-line of production, and should be the primary source for new ideas to improve efficiency and drive continuous improvement.