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Turning the tide of employee engagement in manufacturing.

Manufacturing.  It’s just making things, isn’t it?  Whilst that is a succinct summary, it dramatically underplays the wider role of manufacturing in any given economy’s wellbeing.  The bus driver who took you to the station this morning?  That bus was manufactured on a production line.  His uniform was manufactured in a textile factory.  The ticket he gave you – manufactured just like the machine that dispensed it.  The cereal bar your seatmate was chomping on – manufactured goods and products are everywhere and central to every aspect of how we live.

The manufacturing sector has a proud reputation for continual and leading-edge innovation, with research and development front and central in their relentless and restless pursuit of optimised processes and solutions.  The actual making aspect is just one element of the entire end to end process.  On reflection, manufacturing sounds like an exciting, dynamic and rewarding sector in which to work.  Which makes it even more surprising to discover that employee engagement in the US manufacturing sector is, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, the lowest of any sector at a measly 25% – well below the, admittedly disappointing, national average of 33%.

So, what is causing this lack of engagement, what are the known consequences and what can be done to turn it around?

The lack of engagement can, in no small part, be attributed to the typical structure of manufacturing enterprises.  To be successful and competitive they need to identify ways and means of keeping the cost of production as low as possible.  This means employing a workforce that is often characterised by relatively low wage levels and relatively long working days.  Often the physical manufacturing is undertaken in a different country or continent to the location of the corporate entity.  It is not unsurprising that many of these workers do not feel engaged with their employers and do not properly understand the organisations aims and ethos.  Especially when you consider that many will be non-desk based and would not have a corporate email account or other traditional ways to receive internal communications.  These staff can often feel that they do not have a voice within the organisation and that their efforts are taken for granted with little or no attempt to celebrate their successes.

The above is reflected in the five key actions Gallup identified that could be undertaken to bolster employee engagement:

  • Communicate. Open the channels between the boardroom and the production line.  Explain why things are done in a certain way.
  • Allow for more control of work. Try and cede some power back to the employees in terms of rota arrangements and assigned roles.
  • Create accountability. Make it clear that everyone, no matter their pay grade, is accountable for their contribution.
  • Make sure people feel like they matter. Ensure every worker understands how their role fits in with the overall company and why their best endeavours are crucial to the organisation’s success
  • Be available, and be engaged. Leaders must be engaged, managers must be approachable. Feedback must be captured and acted upon.

It’s safe to say that for many enterprises in the manufacturing sector, the above probably sounds like both an almighty sea change and a huge investment to develop processes and systems that enable the five actions to be implemented.  Management walking the floor on a near-permanent basis trying to ensure that they engage with each member of staff and capture all their concerns and suggestions.  With over 1,000 workers across two shifts.  It is easy to see how it can get filed under “too hard” and thus employee engagement in the sector continues to languish.

It doesn’t have to be like that.  The great news is that a solution already exists and is already being adopted by forward thinking manufacturing enterprises across the globe.  A solution that utilises technology to make employee engagement simple but highly effective.  Introducing StaffConnect -the award winning mobile internal communications platform.

The StaffConnect platform features three distinct but intrinsically linked elements:  an interactive app, an intuitive management console and an inspiring success program.

The StaffConnect App unites the entire workforce from the production line to the boardroom – enabling all employees to engage with company communications and connect with, and be inspired by, corporate goals. Employees are empowered to express views and share knowledge across business-lines, titles and geographies, thereby increasing employee job satisfaction, loyalty, retention and, crucially, customer satisfaction. The StaffConnect App is designed to be fully branded by the client, ensuring that the company’s values and associated imagery are all true to the brand.  The App also includes push notification functionality, ensuring you can get important messages in front of the right people immediately and directly via their device.

The management console provides authorised administrators with a powerful yet simple tool to manage all aspects of the StaffConnect platform. Reports and dashboards offer invaluable insights into employee engagement levels, to analyse and understand each individual, as well as the overall organisational, employee experience.  The latest version takes these analytical capabilities to a new level and pairs them with advanced communities, enabling enhanced segmentation and targeting.  Through the introduction of surveys and quiz functionality, employees have a clearer, multi-channel voice and can be confident their feedback is being sought, received, appraised and acted upon.

The AppSuccess Program consists of customised consultations with domain experts to define a winning internal communications strategy, ensure a successful program and technology implementation, accelerate user adoption, and provide a pathway for feedback to continuously maximise app and program performance.  We know that a new tool, on its own, isn’t the answer to your challenges.  AppSuccess is there to ensure you get the utmost return on investment from the StaffConnect platform.

StaffConnect enables enterprises to address the five areas identified by Gallup and then some.  All without the resource burden that might otherwise stymie good intentions.

The benefits and payback of engaged employees are as well documented as they are quickly realised.  Gallup noted in a 2016 report that organisations whose employee engagement levels pitched them in the top quartile witnessed 70% fewer safety related incidents compared with the rest of the cohort.  StaffConnect enables the promulgation of the enterprise’s vision to each and every employee.  Everyone understands their role, the importance of getting it right first time, every time.  A passion for excellence and diligence becomes infectious and deep rooted.  Staff feel empowered to instantly report any potentially unsafe procedure knowing that they have an open communications channel to the person responsible.  None of this occurs in isolation.  Improved communications and a safety-first environment increases morale.  Increased morale ramps up productivity.  Engaged employees are easier to retain and less likely to be absent. It’s easy to see how effective employee engagement is the start of a virtuous circle that can drive enterprises on to ever greater success.

Manufacturers such as Yeo Valley in the UK, Tasnee in Saudi Arabia, and Macmahon in Australia are already reaping the benefits of choosing StaffConnect as their employee engagement solution.

As the largest organic business in the UK, with a strong focus on community being at the heart of everything they do, Yeo Valley required a solution that would enable their employees, especially non-desk based employees (NDEs) who do not have access to company computers or devices, to be included and contribute to company communications.

Yeo Valley selected StaffConnect to provide a branded app that reflected their company culture and ethos. The app delivered a range of features that help drive open communication, knowledge sharing and empowered employee communities.

In the Middle East, Tasnee were particularly impressed with the platform’s Communities feature which embraces the ‘Voice of the Employee’ by encouraging employees to generate and share content to collaborate with colleagues around the world.

Meanwhile, Christian Sealey, General Manager, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs at Macmahon noted: “When reviewing the options available to us, we found that StaffConnect offered the key things we are after, including rapid deployment and strong customer support.”

StaffConnect has worked with each organisation to ensure that the solution was effectively adopted with bespoke activity plans that are aligned with each client’s culture.  Some great examples include [placeholder as requested]

At StaffConnect we recognise the paramount importance of manufacturing.  Low levels of employee engagement can now be consigned to the history books.  We are already seeing the impact of adoption of StaffConnect on a diverse set of enterprises and we would love to demonstrate its capabilities as well as how intuitive it is.  To request a demo just click here and we’ll show you just how quickly your enterprise could be reaping the benefits of world-class employee engagement.




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