What Manufacturing Leaders and Managers Can Do to Create Stronger Employee Involvement
There was a time when the importance of morale on manufacturing employee productivity was not even acknowledged. Once it was determined that a happy worker was a productive worker, wholesale changes in the manufacturing environment occurred. Today, we’re undergoing another shift. We understand now that the best, most productive employees are not so much happy employees as engaged employees — that is, employees who feel like their contributions are valued and that they matter.
The Challenges of Involvement in Manufacturing
Creating this sense of employee involvement may be harder in manufacturing than in many other industries. For one, many work environments today are much more flexible. People work from home, set their own schedules and have a level of control over their environment that workers of the previous generation did not. However, manufacturing has not necessarily caught up to this culture, and those in manufacturing may even work longer and less flexible hours than before. This situation can be an impediment to engagement.
The fact that there may be layers of people — like HR personnel or union representatives — between management and employees creates even greater engagement resistance. So with all these issues in place, what can manufacturing managers do? In fact, managers can increase employee engagement in a number of ways. Here are just a few.
Employees often feel more engaged if they’re on a path and believe their work is going to lead to something. Giving employees a direction and a clear way they can move up the company ladder is a great way to make the worker feel more involved, and it can be critical as automation starts eliminating many jobs on the lower rungs.
Employee benefits can be more than just vacation days and health insurance, although those are important to. They can include paid time off to volunteer, the opportunity to bring pets or family to work on certain days or break rooms with expanded recreational opportunities. Get creative when you’re trying to engage your employees with benefits.
Feedback may be the most vital tool for creating employee engagement, and it doesn’t have to cost you a thing. Give your employees an opportunity to communicate to you what they think is going well with the company and what could be going better. This is more than just a suggestion box that ends up holding a list of complaints. It’s a conversation where you have the opportunity to really make your employees feel listened to.
Feedback can be positive too. You probably don’t have too much difficulty letting your employees know when they’re doing something wrong, but you should make a special effort to let them know when they did something right, and the occasional thank you just for continuing to be a part of the organization doesn’t hurt either.
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