June 10, 2015 / best practices, employee incentives, Employee Morale, human capital, lean manufacturing, LIT, operator training
While the idea of empowering employees sounds a bit cliché, a growing number of managers are finding that operators who take ownership of their process or work area are truly invaluable. As discussed in a white paper from the LENOX Institute of Technology, employee “buy-in” can positively affect all aspects of an industrial metal-cutting operation, including quality, productivity, and in the end, the bottom line. Similarly, when employees don’t “buy-in” or feel disconnected from their job, those same business areas can be negatively affected.
Unfortunately, the latter seems to be more common. According to ongoing research from Gallup, about 70 percent of American employees are not engaged. Based on Gallup’s definition, this means that the majority of U.S. employees do not feel involved in, enthusiastic about, or committed to their work and workplace.
As a manager, the data may seem a bit disheartening. However, the good news is that U.S. companies have a prime opportunity for growth sitting right underneath their noses, or in the case of fabricators, standing right on their shop floor.
Bob Du Fresne, CEO of metal sheet fabricator Du Fresne Manufacturing, discovered this firsthand. About five years ago, Du Fresne was struggling to keep his fabrication business afloat, and the executive needed a new way to stay profitable. The executive, featured here in the Star Tribune, found that his employees were the answer.
Instead of his typical top-down management approach, Du Fresne decided to adopt a more employee-centered strategy that included shop-floor suggestions and innovation, lean manufacturing, and continuous improvement. The results are impressive: Sales at the fabrication shop are growing, employment is up, old customers are returning, and workers are earning overtime.
“The employees focused their passion and talent and saved this company,” Du Fresne told the Star Tribune. “Employees have made thousands of suggestions, and we used 99 percent of them. That led to productivity and quality improvement.”
With results like that, it’s hard to argue against the impact employees can have on profitability. How, then, can you get your employees more engaged? While there are a variety of ways to accomplish this, the below strategies from EHS Today provide some solid best practices managers should follow:
- Communication: Consistent communication leads to greater engagement. Employees with managers who hold regular meetings with them are nearly three times more likely to be engaged. But the most engaged employees are those who have some form of daily communication with their manager.
- Performance Management: The most disengaged employees are those who aren’t clear about what their expectations at work are. Those employees, thus, often consider annual reviews to be superficial. Instead, employees need to understand what they’re supposed to be doing and how that work meshes with everyone else’s work.
- Strengths over Weaknesses: Managers who help employees develop their strengths are twice as likely to have engaged workers.
As the Gallup research shows, many managers are missing the mark when it comes to employee engagement, and as a result, they could be hurting the overall performance of their company. In De Fresne’s case, taking the time to engage employees built a new level of trust among employees and management—a trust that he says “opened doors to a transformation journey for the company.” Perhaps employee engagement is the key to your shop’s transformation as well.