How To Inspire Engine Assembly Workers?


“Hands up! baby, hands up! Gimme your heart! gimme, gim […]

“Hands up! baby, hands up! Gimme your heart! gimme, gimme your heart! Gimme gimme!” My favourite part of the day on the engine assembly line had just arrived because Brenda had just put on our two o’clock song as we worked. It always made me laugh because the line (which was made up entirely of women) would all pump their hands in the air at the same time every time the singer said: “Hands up!”

I’m from a manufacturing community where “working on the line” is a right of passage for many and I was no different. As a teenager, my time spent here would be critical in shaping my views on work and also my character. The reality is that this small manufacturer was way ahead of their time. I remember the leaders were very concerned with creating a positive culture. They worked hard to create a team environment and to protect the workplace.

One particularly hot summer day, I was pulled off the line for my “griping” about how hot it was. The manager at the time asked me to follow her and she showed me a record of how she checked the thermostat every 15 minutes to document the heat levels because if they got too hot they would close the line down. Then she pointedly told me, “Creating an atmosphere that is safe and happy is critical. We are ensuring everyone’s safety, but you are negatively impacting the attitude. Will you help us make the best out of this situation?”. Tail between my legs, I returned to my station and when Brenda put on our two o’clock song I enthusiastically joined in.

Twenty plus years later and we all now understand the power of a positive culture has a direct impact on the bottom line of a business as it increases both retention and revenue. Interestingly, according to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. However, only 12% of executives believe their company is driving the right culture.

In the Harvard Business Review’s “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture”, they make the following observation:

”It is far more common for leaders seeking to build high-performing organizations to be confounded by culture. Indeed, many either let it go unmanaged or relegate it to the HR function, where it becomes a secondary concern for the business.”
Without a doubt, creating inspiring cultures is no easy task across industries, but Manufacturers in particular face an additional set of unique hurdles to overcome.

This includes ensuring your Non-Desk Employees are in the loop! Nothing is worse than your people finding out about something important after it occurred. Whether that is a social event or important company news. However, with multiple shifts and staff who may not have a corporate email address, it can be a challenge to ensure they are in the loop.

Company web portals are well-intended but often don’t help employees find the information that is important to them. Many are one-way messaging that offer little to no two-way engagement nor provide any social opportunities.

Even with leaders who are dedicated to providing a positive experience for their entire production team, there can be a sense of disconnect. Often, the only consistent piece of communication provided to the employee comes in the form of their pay stub or a poorly positioned bulletin board located somewhere near a lunch room.

All of these situations can directly, and negatively impact, the culture of your company and the performance of your production lines. How so? According to BMC Public Health, healthcare expenditures are nearly 50% greater than at other organizations and the American Psychological Association estimates about 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job. Additionally, they reveal that 60% to 80% of workplace accidents are attributed to stress.

If you are trying to establish a zero-incident workplace, then one of the more surprising things you can do is actively and intentionally invest in tools and programs that help to create a sense of belonging. Recently, EY issued findings that the workplace has replaced neighbourhoods and places of worship for where individuals find their sense of belonging and community.

So a quick recap of your challenges. As a manufacturer, you need to be able to address the following:

Ensure your non-desk employees are always kept in the loop.
Traditional methods (bulletin boards and websites) are not effective.
Create a direct connection between leadership and those working the line.
Uncover ways to create positive touch-points between all teammates regardless of the line they work, the shift they working, the campus they are on, or the country they are in.
Streamline your communications into one central place so nothing gets lost and this will allows you to.
Create a sense of community and belonging.

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