We're in the midst of the great resignation.
Out of all industries, manufacturing has seen the biggest surge in resignations since the COVID-19 pandemic started - an increase of 58%. Employees are demanding higher pay. But money alone is not enough. Most employees in manufacturing feel disengaged and unhappy in their work. They want a safe and motivating work environment. One of the most effective ways to drive motivation and uphold safe working practices in the shop floor is building a program for on-the-job-learning.
Avoid the cycle of churn.
Often, frontline team members quit because they have a values mismatch with the organization. Young professionals, in particular, are more likely to prioritize work culture over salary. If they don’t get along with fellow team members or perceive that their personal goals are not aligned with the company’s, they are more likely to leave.
Lack of motivation is also a source of churn. If you take pride in your work, you are less likely to feel disconnected and discouraged. Nothing kills motivation like feeling your voice isn’t heard. Disengaged team members often underperform in their role; engaged team members stick around and often motivate others. To encourage this kind behavior, train team members to motivate.
Build a culture of learning.
As Peter Drucker once said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Culture is the glue that binds good teams together. When you institutionalize a learning culture in your organization, employees feel that they can actively contribute to your purpose. They see that you are invested in their growth and are encouraged to perform at their best. How do you go about building this type of culture?
1. Foster continuous learning on the job.
Standard operating procedures are necessary to uphold quality in every manufacturing plant and they are the hallmark of any continuous improvement process. But SOPs are not useful if they are gathering dust on a shelf. Continuous improvement starts with continuous learning.
Today, you can implement on-the-job training tools that allow employees to access SOPs and work instructions when they need them most: while performing the task at hand. Digitizing your SOPs and making them accessible on mobile devices and wearables does not only save time, it increases your team’s performance. Skills are best honed when you develop them continuously, in practice.
2. Crowdsource knowledge.
In every work environment, there’s always something to change and improve. Often, the people who will know problems inside-out are the ones on your frontline. Crowdsource knowledge from the shop floor to understand what's working and what’s not. Then make improvements in your processes. Team members who contribute knowledge will feel empowered and involved. It makes them feel valued and reduces the likelihood of churn.
3. Encourage knowledge sharing and honest communication.
It’s important to encourage knowledge sharing between team members as well. Best practices that are only internalized by a small group are scarcely best practices at all. Invite team members to train others. Start a mentoring program and reward those who drive knowledge sharing. This promotes a sense of belonging and improves collaboration.
Gathering feedback is also important. Encourage employees to share constructive feedback so you can build better processes over time. Having everyone connected and contributing to a process can help drive continuous improvement.
A culture of learning pays off.
Building a learning culture and empowering employees with the right tools to learn on the job can go a long way. It can help you:
- Retain valued employees.
- Increase productivity and product quality.
- Promote lasting and successful team relationships.
- Lower absenteeism and churn.
- Elevate your employer brand.