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Employee Engagement in Manufacturing Companies

Employee engagement in manufacturing companies can be complex. 24/7 shift work and difficult working condition impacts morale. Here's how you can tackle it.

Employee engagement is hard. No one understands that statement more than a company within the manufacturing industry. Employee engagement in manufacturing companies is especially difficult due to the hard job conditions, 24/7 hour operating hours, and the shift work involved.

In this blog, we are going to discuss how you can improve employee engagement within the manufacturing industry. Read on to find out more!

What is employee engagement and why is it important?

First, let’s take a look at the definition of employee engagement. According to Forbes, it is defined as “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals”. Having a strong employee engagement rate means a higher-quality and more productive workforce. The work environment is more positive and employees are happier in their roles which further leads to high employee retention rates. This saves you time and money in the long run.

Why is employee engagement so low in the manufacturing industry?

There are a few reasons why employee engagement is lower in the manufacturing industry compared to other industries. In fact, according to an employee engagement report by Workday, the employee engagement rate within the manufacturing industry is one of the lowest across all industries – at 34%. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

  • 24/7 Operations: Many manufacturing companies with operations like factories operate 24/7 as a lot of machinery needs to be continuously running. This means that the company needs employees to work shifts to monitor the operations happening. 24/7 shift work can be extremely tiresome and draining.
  • No control over shifts: As mentioned, most manufacturing employees will have to work shift work. This often means employees have little to no control over their own schedules. They may have to work long, unsociable hours and not have a say in their own shifts. This makes the job become monotonous and will impact their work-life balance.
  • Difficult working conditions: A lot of factories and other manufacturing plants can be harsh work environments. It can be hot, loud, and badly lit. This can make employees disengage with the work they are doing if they are not working in a pleasant environment.
  • Physically demanding work: Manufacturing jobs usually are quite physically demanding with heavy lifting and a lot of standing involved. Workers get tired over long periods of time which can lead to disinterest and burnout in the role.

So, how can you improve employee engagement in manufacturing?

Pay workers fairly:

All workers deserve a fair wage for the work they do. A fair pay rate is imperative in keeping employees engaged. They also want to know that there is an opportunity for pay increases in the future. This is the same for benefits and incentives. Benefit plans have a big impact on employees’ decisions on joining a company and whether or not they stay there. According to a study done by the Economic Policy Institute, manufacturing workers earn 13% more in hourly compensation than comparable workers in the rest of the private sector. However, there is an aging manufacturing workforce and in the future, the industry may see an employee shortage. So the industry needs to ensure it continues to pay well for the work done.

Reduce monotonous tasks:

Technological advancements have improved the day-to-day tasks of manufacturing workers but there are still a lot of monotonous tasks that need to be done. However, research has shown that these types of tasks negatively impact mental health, cause stress, and can lead to burnout. Try to keep these tasks to a minimum or ensure they are shared equally between workers. This way no one worker is doing all the repetitive tasks and they can work on other projects. This will keep them more engaged and as a result more productive too.

Create a good work environment:

A good work environment cannot be overlooked. It is critical for the employee experience and goes beyond the physical attributes of the workplace. Physical elements such as lighting, heating, air conditioning, and noise levels all have a huge impact on how we feel at work. All these physical attributes will directly impact your workers and their ability to do work.  As well as that, it’s not all about the physical. The workplace should be a safe place where employees feel comfortable and a place where they can connect with their colleagues too.

Fair scheduling:

As a company that specializes in all things scheduling, we cannot emphasize this point enough. A fair schedule should be consistent, predictable, adequate, and involve employee input. Where possible, try to keep schedules consistent as this will help improve work-life balance and employees. You should also ensure workers are getting their schedules in advance this allows them to make plans outside of work hours. Employees should be getting an adequate number of shifts and should have the ability to pick more if they wish to work more hours.

Give employees more autonomy:

This is linked to ensuring employees have a fair schedule. Workers should have some sort of input into the shifts they work. Increased autonomy is a great way to increase employee engagement within the manufacturing industry. Scheduling software like Celayix is a great way to do this. Employees can pick up shifts and self-schedule via an app on their phones. This puts the power into the hands of your workers and by letting them choose their own hours they will feel more loyalty and affinity to your company. You can also give your manufacturing employees more autonomy over the tasks they do. No one likes to be micromanaged. Allow your team to try new ways of working, or give them opportunities for training and development.

Improve employee morale:

One way to improve your employee engagement is to show your workers you value them. Celebrate their wins and give regular feedback. If an employee is not getting any validation from their work they may begin to lose interest. The small things that show you care are important too. For example, offering incentives like employee of the month or celebrating employee work anniversaries shows you see their contribution and are grateful for it. Build happiness and morale in the workplace and you will definitely see engagement levels rise. A recent study of manufacturing workers showed how workers who felt valued in work were more than 4 times as likely to have higher engagement levels. Now that’s proof!

Some final thoughts…

There is no silver bullet to improve your manufacturing company’s engagement levels. It’s a continuous process that takes time and commitment. There is something that everyone in the business can do to make little changes that will create a big difference. Celayix can help improve your engagement through our employee scheduling features. If you would like to contact one of our sales reps today click here.

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