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Workforce Tips for Manufacturers

This blog post is part one of a two part series.

As a manufacturer, you don’t want workers – you want company ambassadors. Workers are individuals who show up and get their tasks done. Company ambassadors are a team of employees who are enthusiastic about their careers, and they are inspired and empowered to proactively help your business grow.

Company ambassadors are innovative and are confident in their ability to achieve excellence. They serve as cheerleaders for your company to the outside public. You can guide your workers into becoming company ambassadors through workforce development initiatives.

Sometimes, small- and mid-sized manufacturers don’t believe they have the resources for these types of efforts. “I don’t have the money and manpower to give everyone a raise,” goes the thinking. But workforce development isn’t about raises and bonuses; it’s about helping your employees become greater, and cultivating a positive emotional connection between your staff and the organization. Carroll Thomas, The Director for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, recently captured the thought best in a recent blog entry by saying, “manufacturing is about putting people first.”

There are many tips we want to share, so we’re breaking our workforce development information into a two-part blog series! Here are a few tips to get started:

1. Provide Formal Skills Training and Education

Investing in your workers’ professional and personal growth demonstrates that you genuinely care about their future. From certification programs to associate degrees, there are many affordable options emerging to provide more education for employees.

Employee development not only occurs in the classroom, but on the job as well. New projects and responsibilities assigned through a mentor program encourage growth and development. Many continuous improvement programs and the adoption of quality management systems are built around developing the skills of your workforce.

The best way to facilitate meaningful development is to find out how each employee wants to grow, develop a personalized plan aligned with the organization’s goals, and then to match that with opportunities both internally and externally.

2. Place an Emphasis on Communication and Feedback

Improving communication starts with ensuring that communication is open, honest and a two-way street between employer and employee.

Employees feel more respected when their opinions are valued and taken into consideration. A crucial rule is employees are able to voice opinions without retribution. Foster an environment where employees are encouraged and comfortable speaking with management about their input, especially as it relates to operations and production issues. Subsequently, demonstrating that employee feedback was considered and implemented is vital. For example, a notice was shared with staff such as, “Employees brought to our attention that they wanted to see x changed. Management agrees and this is what we’re doing to address x.”

On the flip side, prioritize having managers communicate their goals to employees. When management properly articulates updates on key projects and company strategies, employees feel they have a stake in the organization. Additionally, your employees are more likely to make mistakes or errors if they don’t understand the bigger picture. A Harvard Business Review reported that 95% of employees don’t understand or don’t know their business’ strategy. Make it a goal to have your workforce part of the 5% that do.

3. Encourage Employee Vacations

Employee burnout is real and can lead to turnover. Various studies show that Americans aren’t using all of their allotted vacation days. A study from research firm Harris Interactive conducted for the careers website Glassdoor found that employees only used approximately half of their eligible vacation days, and more than 60% worked while on vacation.

When employees go on vacation, they get an important time to take a break and recharge. Many employers are switching to more flexible vacation schedules. Show your employees that you care about their mental health – monitor their vacation days and if you notice that they're going unused, encourage them to take advantage.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog series where we’ll discuss topics such as employee engagement and cross-training.

For more information about MEP workforce programs, click here, contact your local MEP center or NIST MEP’s mary.pacelli [at] (Mary Ann Pacelli).

About the author

Mary Ann Pacelli

Mary Ann Pacelli, M.Ed., is the Division Chief for Network Learning and Strategic Competitions with the NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  In this role, Mary Ann oversees the special competitions award process and the development and implementation of a plan for Learning and Knowledge Sharing across the National Network.  Recently Mary Ann was the Program Manager, Workforce Development, at MEP for over 4 years.  Her work included advocating for Manufacturing Workforce priorities with related federal agencies and providing technical support to the network of MEP centers across the country for workforce related activities.  In addition, she manages special MEP projects, and coordinates the Workforce Directors of the Manufacturing USA Institute Network, on behalf of the NIST Advanced Manufacturing Program Office. 

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Looking forward to part two!
I would like to suggest some work practices to utilize in order to maintain healthy and happy ambassadors to manufacturing industry...cross-training on machine operations to prevent and MITIGATE boredom and repetitive motion injuries; ergonomics program; training program compliance; shift preference; participation in quality control, open door communications for program and company continuous improvements! USA NEEDS TO LEAD AGAIN IN THE ECONOMY WITH SMART BUSINESS PRACTICES!
This blog containing tips and strategies for manufacturing industry are good and knowledgeable, is also saying about employs professional skills and their personal growth and also providing tips on how to encourage employee . AudioSolutionz is also providing professional Training programs and Webinars related to Manufacturing and Real Estate industry. And for more information about the Audio Solutionz you can check here:
Nice tips. Workforce is the important aspect for any manufacturing company. Great information shared.

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