The manufacturing industry is synonymous with research and development, innovation, and optimization. It is highly dependent on workers’ hard skills with heavy machinery to build products at pace.
Manufacturing engagement, manufacturing efficiency: An industry snapshot
The manufacturing industry is synonymous with research and development, innovation, and optimization. It is highly dependent on workers’ hard skills with heavy machinery to build products at pace. However, when it comes to soft skills like effective communication, employee satisfaction and trust, and leadership, there lies a gulf in the sector. According to a Gallup report, employees in the manufacturing industries have been the least engaged at work historically, with three-quarters of employees disengaged. The report says currently there is an “alarming number of actively disengaged employees in manufacturing roles”.
Disengagement drivers in manufacturing
Studies show that the rising lack of engagement among workers in the manufacturing industry is majorly because of the following factors:
- The traditional management mentality in the manufacturing business tends to value process more than people, leading to high discontentment.
- The purpose or mission of the job doesn’t make workers feel that their work is crucial or their colleagues are committed to doing high-quality work.
- The number of leaders in the industry known for encouraging the development of employees, recognizing their efforts or talking to them about their progress is negligible.
- Most manufacturing companies try to contain costs by keeping production expenses as slim as possible. This leads to low wages and long working hours.
- There is a significant dent in proper communication among manufacturing industry employees, a large number of whom are non-desk workers (often the physical manufacturing takes place in a different country).
Assembling a disaster
Low employee engagement scores in the manufacturing sector give rise to a number of limitations that stop the smooth running of business.
High absentee rates: One of the main impacts of disengagement in the manufacturing industry is high absenteeism. Motivation and job satisfaction take a hard hit.
High turnover: A shortage of skilled workers in the business makes it difficult to attract and retain proper talent. Employees with a high school diploma hold the majority of manufacturing jobs and are less engaged at work.
High instances of accidents: The manufacturing business is a risky affair with heavy-duty machinery around that needs to be handled with care. Lack of proper engagement among workers leads to callous operation of machinery and equipment that results in safety incidents on the floor.
High percentage of losses: Demotivated employees not putting in their best is indirectly linked to manufacturing companies incurring heavy losses due to low-quality output.
Solution: Creating an engagement model
If employees are properly engaged in manufacturing companies, it paints a completely different picture. As per a report by The Filson Leadership Group, manufacturing companies with an engaged workforce have 21% higher profitability, 70% fewer safety incidents, 40% fewer quality incidents, and 41% less absenteeism.
Create an ecosystem: Start off by building a community of secure mobile connectivity between employees, managers, and leaders. So that all relevant information is easily accessed by all stakeholders in the company through announcements, alerts, file exchanges, chats, etc. And mainly so that the large percentage of non-desk workforce in the organization is efficiently looped in. In such cases, onboarding an employee communication app that is especially designed to serve the non-desk employees is a great idea. Discourage the use of consumer apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which might be popular in their circle but is also highly unsecure and not built for work communication.
Ensure two-way communication: Since most manufacturing employees are the last link to the products built, they are in need of constant vital communications from the management and other stakeholders. But workers will soon drop off if their voices are not heard. The workers’ inputs and feedback about the product can help the company take valuable decisions. So communication channels between these parties should be clear, two-way, continuous, and without any lags.
Automate processes: Remove the manual burden of paperwork and bulky Excel sheets. Automate processes in manufacturing like shift scheduling, assignments, compliance, request management, maintenance schedules, and more through a digital platform that connects all. Moreover, if the platform integrates with other work apps crucial in the manufacturing industry, it is an added bonus. Measuring engagement scores also gives you the added benefit of making cultural and operational adjustments if needed.
Value your workforce: Reach out to your workers via an employee engagement platform and show them you care. Through recognition posts, you can appreciate their efforts and motivate them to perform better. Through surveys, polls, and crowdsourcing, you can seek the opinions of employees and make them feel valued. Through broadcasts, you can better communicate company vision and goals. These initiatives across the workforce help in building engagement in the manufacturing business.
In a world where employee engagement levels are dwindling, the manufacturing industry presents the sorriest sight. It’s high time to make a turnaround and drive a trend of satisfaction, trust, involvement, and happiness among employees in the sector.