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Five Workforce Values To Give Your Business an Edge

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Many manufacturing paradigms are rooted in corporate culture. Some examples include lean, Six Sigma, kaizen, statistical process control (SPC) and capability maturity model integration (CMMI).

While these programs do evolve manufacturing operations in different ways, they also set forth ideals to be followed by the workforce. In this way, they influence the culture within a factory or manufacturing plant, in addition to everything else. While these programs stand alone, the individual mechanics of each could be borrowed or adapted.

What are some of the workforce values that these programs — and others — dictate, which could provide a competitive edge in nearly any scenario? What can manufacturers do to improve their workforce overall?

1. Shifting Perspectives

As time progresses, the workforce changes as much as anything else because new people are constantly coming in.

A complete workforce is always made up of a plethora of demographics and generations. The younger generations, for example, have different goals and interests than the older generations. Manufacturers must embrace these differences and find ways to engage and interact.

Problems arise when the workforce changes yet the management, company values and internal culture do not. In other words, none of those elements evolves with the people, and there ends up being a misalignment. Management styles, internal operations and company culture must continue to evolve with the workers to ensure everyone is valued appropriately.

2. Uphold Integrity

It doesn’t matter whether it happens over a decade or just a few months. When you promise your workers something, you must deliver. Every missed opportunity to do so means a loss in rapport and loyalty, as well as company buy-in.

On the surface, this translates to never overpromising or making promises that can’t be kept, but the reality is much deeper than that. Integrity is a general adherence to a moral code, among other things, which means it’s also about taking care of your workers.

Are you truly valuing their efforts? Are they being compensated fairly, and is that compensation regularly assessed? Are you making sure they have everything they need and that they are on the right path?

3. Improve Safety

Manufacturing culture tends to focus on smooth operations, which brings productivity and efficiency to the forefront. Of course, that makes operations faster and output better, but it can also be detrimental to worker safety.

Are you focusing too much on how efficient a building is, instead of whether or not the facility is a safe place to work? Are the machines, equipment, tools and work areas inspected for unsafe conditions and failure points? Do workers have appropriate protective gear and are there protocols in place to uphold security and safety?

Industrial safety is easy to overlook, especially in large manufacturing plants and warehouses. Even something as minor as a railing or safety guard can have huge implications. It’s important to consider the build quality and materials used for underpinnings, supports and safety gear such as railings, in addition to conditions, upkeep and usability.

Safety audits should be conducted throughout an entire facility, and actions must be taken to fix problems or prevent major failures as soon as they are discovered.

4. Diversify the Talent

A McKinsey and Company report from 2018 said it best: “Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative … Those who embrace it will be more likely to prosper, and those who ignore it will be more likely to fail.”

There are many reasons why not diversifying can cause problems within corporate and internal culture. The most important is that you pass up so many opportunities and lose out on that competitive edge. By not broadening the talent base, you are missing out on valuable workers who could be contributing to the business in a multitude of ways.

Today’s workforce is made up of a widely diverse group of people spanning many races, genders, ages and beyond. To ignore that fact and limit newcomers based on surface-level differences would severely impact the future of any company — even more so in the face of labor shortages.

5. Build Strong Relationships

Provided the core values are sound, they lead to a strong internal culture, excellent loyalty and positive relationships. All of these things can be used to network and build even stronger relationships outside of the company with customers, suppliers, partners and even some of the competition.

The more people who stand to benefit from positive workforce values, the more loyalty and support there is and the stronger the overall relationships. In the manufacturing world, this creates a unique support system that elevates the entire operation, including individual processes and tasks. Suppliers are more amenable, for instance, when their values align with your company’s. The same is true for customers and other related parties.

Strong relationships, or rather the need to strengthen them, is precisely why Manufacturing Day is observed annually on the first Friday of October. It allows the average person to see the working cogs of the industry. They get a look at what it takes to create the products and goods they use regularly. It also fosters more positive relationships and higher customer loyalty.

Manufacturing Culture Builds a Competitive Edge

What do these values have in common? They are all methods for improving manufacturing culture for the better. They address values related to the workforce, whether through direct benefits or better relations and experiences.

Evolving the core values and management strategies to match the diversified workforce ensures more satisfied people and better experiences for all. Upholding integrity and adhering to worker responsibilities helps build loyalty and trust. Diversifying the workforce opens up the company to new opportunities, and a strong culture and positive reputation lead to much stronger relationships across the board.

Combined, these values create a highly effective and rewarding operation for all stakeholders, workers included.

Emily Newton is the editor-in-chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine exploring new innovations in the industrial sector.

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