December 23, 2022

Boosting Employee Engagement in Manufacturing

Engaged employees are central to organizational success. However, evidence exists that what is essential to manufacturing employees may differ from other industries. Therefore, what is critical to employee engagement improvement is to ask what is important to them.
Continuing Focus on Improving Employee Engagement

Last week we explored the key figure that has the most significant impact on employee engagement, the employee's manager.  The individuals with managerial responsibility determine seventy percent of the variance in team engagement.  We will continue to build on ways managers and others can improve employee engagement in the manufacturing sector.

"On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work." - Marilyn Carlson
First, Cultural Transformation

During my manufacturing career, I wanted my company to pursue various recognitions for high-level operational excellence.  One was the Shingo Prize which is "based on a complete assessment of an organization's culture and how well it drives world-class results." The central focus of the Shingo Model™ is culture.  To develop a cultural transformation that drives ideal behavior by all organization members.  We will next look at recommendations that can support the development of a culture of desirable behaviors.

Best Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

Research by the Shingo Institute of four manufacturing companies focused on conditions that drove high-level employee engagement.  For example, they looked at employee perceptions of opportunities for personal development, public expressions of appreciation, and the availability of what employees needed to increase their work knowledge.  Additionally, they investigated the amount of discretion employees were allowed in making meaningful decisions and their understanding of how they supported the attainment of organizational goals.  The results were that public praise is not as significant in manufacturing as in other industries, although still beneficial.  Similarly, resources that would allow personal improvement was not deemed essential to improving employee engagement.  Finally, what was important to enhance employee engagement was the perception of opportunities for development and the freedom of empowerment in making work decisions.

Additional Ideas for Manufacturing Engagement

Additional insight to improve engagement in manufacturing employees were actionable tips from industry experts:

1. Ensure that employees understand the connection of their actions to company goals.

2. Show appreciation to employees for their contributions to the company's success.

3. Provide opportunities for progress to personal growth.

4. Listen to employee ideas on improving the workplace and operational efficiencies.

5. Introduce scheduling flexibility wherever possible.

6. Adopt an open-book-management approach where employees think like owners when given access to critical financial and operational information.

7. Provide opportunities for external gathering and socializing.

8. Leverage virtual events and online learning opportunities for employees.

9. Create an environment that allows for employee creativity and innovation.

10. Hire for organizational fit.

11. Love your employees.

The article references research by Manufacturing Digital Magazine where engaged employees had seventy percent higher productivity, seventy-eight percent improvement in safety, and seventy percent lower employee turnover.  Additionally, there was an eighty-six percent improvement in customer satisfaction and an increase of forty-four percent in profitability—compelling evidence for implementing actions that enhance employee engagement.

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Conflicting Advice

Individuals looking for advice on how to improve employee engagement will benefit from Internet research and engaging with outside support.  However, as seen in this article, the information will not always be in complete alignment.  An essential aspect of improving employee engagement is asking our workforce what is important to them.  A well-developed initiative to improve employee engagement will not be successful if it does not align with what is essential to actual employees of a specific organization.

Key Takeaway

Engaged employees are central to organizational success.  However, evidence exists that what is essential to manufacturing employees may differ from other industries.  Therefore, what is critical to employee engagement improvement is to ask what is important to them.  

First Step

Those tasked with improving employee engagement in their organization should interview their workforce.  A comprehensive set of employee engagement survey questions are available to guide this work.  The results can help the organization take employee engagement to the next level.

My Gratitude

I am grateful for companies that are working to be women-friendly manufacturing employers.  For example, InHerSight provides The 20 Best Manufacturing Companies to Work For As Rated by the Women Who Work.  A list developed from millions of anonymous employer ratings and working women reviews.  I believe that bringing more women into positions of responsibility in manufacturing will be a meaningful contribution to the industry.

Sneak Peek

Next week's blog will continue to explore steps to lessen the waste of human potential as it relates to humanist manufacturing.      

To learn more about our work or read more blog posts, visit

If you like what you have read, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn

Contact me if you need help with the manufacturing support services of consulting, coaching, Fractional Chief Sustainability Officer, or training/reskilling at 734-664-9076.

See my virtual TEDx Videos at Reinventing the Prison Industrial Complex and Humanist Manufacturing.

You can sign up for my newsletter or send me an email at Contact Me

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