Improving Workforce Productivity in Manufacturing
Labor productivity, also known as workforce productivity, is the primary driver of success in the manufacturing industry. A skilled, productive workforce is what enables plants to keep pace with consumer demand, maintain competitiveness in the global market, drive revenue, and preserve profits.
Given its considerable impact on corporate outcomes, low productivity tends to produce disastrous results. As you invest more in a staff that consistently produces less, inevitably your profit margins diminish and operating costs rise. You begin to see high rates of turnover and absenteeism. Even when employees are present, they are disengaged and communicate poorly. And despite repeated attempts to incentivize them, they continuously fail to meet requisite numbers each shift and achieve targeted benchmarks and quotas.
Fortunately, as worrisome as these challenges are, they are not insurmountable. It’s possible to improve workforce productivity before facing irreparable economic damage, but you need to act quickly. To uncover the right response, you’ll first need to identify the root cause of the productivity challenges facing your plant. You need to determine why productivity has fallen and how the desired level of improvement can be nurtured and sustained long-term.
Employee Happiness Equals Higher Production
Here’s a secret not many manufacturing managers know: increasing employee happiness is often the first and most important step in overcoming productivity challenges.
Countless studies have revealed that a happy staff is key to heightened production and a positive workplace environment generates enhanced corporate results. This may come as a surprise, but the statistics don’t lie: cultural solutions consistently promote higher production.
Consider the following:
- Highly engaged employees are 38 percent more likely to have above-average productivity. – Workplace Research Foundation
- Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202 percent. – Dale Carnegie
- Increasing employee engagement investments by 10 percent can increase profits by $2400 per employee annually. – Workplace Research Foundation
In short, employee happiness is inextricably linked to production and performance. With very few exceptions, we can typically trace a manufacturing plant’s productivity challenges back to an unmotivated and disengaged workforce. As such, by optimizing employees and ensuring that they are happy and engaged on the plant floor, incredible changes occur. Performance improves, productivity increases, and profits rise.
Identifying The Problems
It’s one thing to understand intellectually that happy employees equal higher production. It’s another to actually succeed in engaging your workforce in the manufacturing industry.
The reality is that employee happiness can be elusive and the solutions to this problem are far from one-size-fits-all. In fact, they are entirely unique to each organization. Identifying the right solutions for your staff isn’t easy, and blindly trying new tactics to motivate your employees rarely works. At best, it has a neutral effect on productivity; at worst it could exacerbate an already precarious situation.
As such, before implementing any changes, it’s important to carefully analyze the problems facing your company. Accurately identifying why your employees are unhappy and changing those key factors may be time-consuming at first, but it’s worth it in the long run when your profits, productivity, and performance have improved.
At CultureIQ, we’ve found that one of the most effective ways to solve the employee happiness conundrum is through the use of targeted surveys. We leverage this tool to uncover the underlying problems contributing to a company’s productivity challenges and identify promising, strategic solutions.
When conducted properly, surveys can provide invaluable insight as you learn how to motivate your employees. For example, they can uncover:
- What your employees value. Your staff’s values are of the utmost importance. Understanding and responding to them appropriately can boost employee satisfaction and incentivize productivity. For example, a larger paycheck may not be sufficient to motivate some employees. In addition to being paid fairly, they may also have a deep need for security and safety. Or, they may want the reassurance that there’s a clear path for advancement within the organization.
- Current levels of employee engagement. Surveys can also gauge current levels of employee morale, satisfaction, and motivation — all of which are strong predictors of an organization’s productivity and overall success. This information can be leveraged to effect potent change.
For example, using our CultureIQ software, you can segment and survey teams by high, middle, and low performers. By looking solely at the mindset of your lowest level performers, you can identify why they’re unhappy and unproductive and ultimately, devise targeted strategies to motivate them.
- The cause of employee unhappiness. And finally, surveys can uncover why your workforce is unhappy. This is important, because you need to know the root cause of the problem if you hope to fix it. Although every company is unique, in manufacturing, we often see factors like a lack of resources, unsupportive management, little opportunity for professional growth, and dissatisfaction with colleagues as the primary drivers of employee unhappiness.
Once you have uncovered why your employees are facing productivity challenges, your next step is to change the organizational factors that are driving their unhappiness. In this way, you are ultimately shaping a new and positive company culture that motivates your workforce to perform.
This is where CultureIQ’s strategy team becomes an invaluable resource, capable of catapulting your organization to a new level of success. Based on the detailed feedback generated by your surveys, your strategy team will analyze the qualitative and quantitative data collected to identify actionable insights and correlate the results with financial and operational metrics.
This analysis will allow you to act on the results of your survey in a meaningful and impactful way. Throughout this process, we will guide you in shaping your culture strategy based on the factors that matter most to your employees, leaders, and businesses. In addition, we will offer you access to culture best-practices, along with our unmatched expertise in culture initiatives and program execution. In short, you will have a comprehensive team of seasoned culture experts in your corner who are completely dedicated to ensuring that your company is operating in its best and most effective capacity.
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In workforce management, one of the worst things you can do for morale is to begin implementing a much-needed change, only to revert back to the status quo within a short period of time. Doing so tends to cause employee happiness and engagement to plummet, as it sends the message that even if progress does happen, it won’t be sustainable.
To prevent this, it’s important to continuously measure progress after the initial improvements have been made. Ideally, this is done on a set schedule to ensure that any new problems or regressions are caught and rectified early. For example, at CultureIQ, we routinely analyze performance and productivity for the companies we collaborate with. We often review these metrics by region, to provide a deep understanding of the niche challenges by location and what changes need to be prioritized for each branch. This proactive, systematic approach ensures that companies are acutely aware of their ongoing progress and able to accurately gauge their improvement over time.
Once they are implemented, we also strongly recommend collecting data about your people programs on an ongoing basis. Doing so allows you to understand and measure your results, so that you can continue strengthening your company culture and making adjustments that further engage your employees.
How CultureIQ Can Help
Happy employees are directly correlated with higher production. As such, a disengaged and unmotivated staff is very often the underlying problem behind the vast majority of production challenges we encounter at CultureIQ. Many productivity issues could be readily eliminated by fostering a positive company culture that invests in its employees, prioritizes their engagement, and ensures that they have the support and resources they need to perform.
It may sound like a simple fix — but these changes require a fundamental, company-wide shift in thinking and behavior. What’s more, because every organization is unique, your employees will find happiness and frustration in different areas. What works to improve engagement and productivity in one company won’t necessarily translate for yours.
As such, you need to identify what’s preventing your staff from feeling secure, happy, and productive at work. From there, you can brainstorm very specific solutions based on their values and needs. To do this successfully, you need a comprehensive, unbiased view of how your employees currently engage with your organization — and that’s not easy to obtain on your own.
At CultureIQ, we specialize in helping companies understand their workforce better, so they are successful in motivating their employees. Our benchmarked surveys, intuitive software and seasoned strategy team give you unparalleled insight into what’s happening within your organization, plus guidance on exactly where to focus next to improve workforce productivity.
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When Our Customers Succeed with CultureIQ
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