Technology, communication and inclusivity are key to maintaining worker’s morale in these unprecedented times
A happy workforce – from administration to the shop floor – makes a more productive, engaged, loyal and competent workforce.
The unique constraints imposed upon manufacturers during the pandemic should lead companies to look afresh at how workers can be enthused, engaged and energised in their changed roles. This includes those who are furloughed – and therefore may be feeling especially isolated – those with fewer working hours, subjected to reduced pay, working remotely or now having different shift patterns.
Of course, every manufacturer has its own approach to this. At Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection, we have found success through focusing on technology, communication and inclusivity. Here are a few ideas that we have been putting into practice through the lockdown period:
The COVID-19 lockdown may come to be seen as a watershed moment: When the ability of digital technology to aid remote working made a definitive demonstration of its critical importance in business life.
Not every business was ready for it but, armed with the lessons learned, they will assuredly be next time.
Ensure that your staff have the right digital infrastructure and equipment and that they are trained to use it.
Realign priorities and targets
Operational and sales expectations for the business should be reassessed based on the new reality we are all faced with, while individual performance reviews and targets should also be considered for realignment under the ‘new normal’.
This approach will provide a boost to staff motivation. Your employees won’t feel that unnecessarily onerous demands are being placed upon them, either as individuals, as teams or as an entire organisation.
Giving people something challenging yet attainable to strive for is the key.
Keeping staff informed is only a part of it – you should make them feel valued, too.
Regular work updates via an e-newsletter are simple enough to organise, but as employers we have a duty of care to our employees that goes beyond this. We need to recognise that lockdown restrictions affect people in different ways.
Companies could look at introducing a ‘buddy’ system that pairs team members up, giving them the responsibility of reaching out, making sure their colleagues are okay and helping out when needed.
The banter of the production line is a key ingredient in the glue that holds a team together through long hours and difficult shifts – the same can be said for field based roles and administrative departments. Embrace it and take the lead in bringing the team back together during lockdown, through virtual gatherings and quizzes.
This will help to keep the bond between workers strong and underline for them how important they are to your operation.
There is huge potential in your workforce and now is the time to unleash it. Those on furlough can still learn new skills through training, and at all levels you should encourage staff to come forward with innovative ideas that can enhance your operation.
Only by continually innovating can we as a business, and you too, remain competitive, improve morale, maximise return on investment and, maybe, increase productivity. The innovations will not be enough to beat COVID-19, however, it can help by finding ways to make improvements in different ways of working and new technologies.
To sum up, manufacturers need to ensure they are prepared to be flexible and quick-footed, much like a start-up. This will help all staff feel empowered and valued in the vital role they play for the company to ensure it continues to be a success.