The link between continuous improvement and worker satisfaction

The great thing about continuous improvement is that it affects every aspect of your factory. If you improve one area of your production, it has a ripple effect across your whole line.

This applies to your workforce too. Factory workers that feel content at work are 44% more productive, a gain that could have huge implications for your factory.

So how can you achieve it?

In today’s blog, we’ll cover:

Why are factory workers important? 

Your workers define your factory. Not only are they essential to your operations, they’re also experts, change agents, sources of vital information, and key generators of value.

A workforce bought into your strategy, with clearly defined roles, incentives and feedback mechanisms can drive a huge amount of growth.

One that lacks these elements can cause problems.

To make the most of your workforce, managers and owners must create a better working environment.

And the gains for your bottom line can be substantial.   

Key issues affecting factory workers 

It’s a cliché, but it’s the truth: a happy workforce is a productive one. 

And while significant labour shortages affect industry in Europe and beyond, staff retention is more important now than ever. 

Assuming you already offer competitive rates of pay, decent conditions, and facilities for your workers, there are a number of issues on the shop floor that can impact worker satisfaction and productivity.

At the top of this post, we mentioned that continuous improvement efforts positively impact your workers. A few of the most significant areas you should focus on are:

Safety

This is by far the most important measure you need to consider. If workers don’t feel safe, or suffer avoidable accidents in the course of their work, you need to make changes.

Take a look at your procedures, the layout of your factory, and the quality of your tools and machines. Any obvious flaws should be corrected immediately. 

Where you need to fix your attention long-term is how to test and proactively improve your safety on all levels. It’s never a one-and-done thing.

Onboarding

Your workers’ first days on the job set the scene for the rest of their time at your factory. 

Without a smooth process, focused on instilling essential behaviours and skills, you risk wasting potential and creating unnecessary friction along your line.

The labour shortages we mentioned above mean that a pool of experienced, well-trained workers to fill new positions isn’t guaranteed. 

And new technologies and digitalisation mean that even old hands will need some reskilling. 

Your onboarding process therefore becomes a clear opportunity to educate your workforce on digital transformation and industry 4.0, and how this affects their day-to-day work.

Beyond that, it’s a chance to establish what your company is all about. If you don’t make a proper introduction to your values and purpose, it’s a recipe for disengagement and apathy.

Training

Fail to provide adequate, regular training and you’re, at the least, likely to see more waste. When poor training collides with safety, however, you could be looking at something much more serious.

Once onboarding is complete and your workers are on the line, it’s essential that you regard their training and development as ‘ongoing’.

When workers are well trained and well positioned to match their skills, they can be your best asset.

Badly trained workers cause waste, accidents, and affect the productivity of those around them. It’s up to you to put this right.

Communication

Workers need to know what’s expected of them, how their performance is measured, and how their work relates to the rest of the line.

Communication has to be crystal-clear at the workstation, and appropriate to your working environment. 

It needs to be consistent among individuals and supervisors. 

It has to occur regularly between teams and across departments.

And it can’t just flow in one direction. The responsibility to communicate clearly, consistently and cooperatively needs to be instilled in everyone at your factory.

Unclear or nonexistent communication is how you lose productivity and create a chaotic working environment.

And a chaotic working environment is no place to build worker satisfaction.

How to engage your factory workers 101 

Here’s a point about manufacturing we always want to emphasise: everything within your control must be under your control. This applies to how you engage your workforce, too.

Bad practice in different areas of your plant will result in sluggish production and reduced profitability. But they’ll also affect your workers.

Here are a few examples:

Shop floor management

A disorganised shop floor with illogical tool placement will not only reduce OEE, but it will create a frustrating work environment. Plus, it could impact worker safety.

Ensuring everything has its correct place, and is properly maintained and monitored, will make your production line more efficient, and your workers more productive.

Standardisation

Think of how standards are communicated and displayed. 

Standardisation is essential for an effective production line. But if there’s a disconnect between the office and the shop floor, a lack of visualisation, or any ambiguities in your training or application of standards, your workers will struggle.

It might not spell immediate disaster, but it will cause problems. Think of how inconsistent standardisation might impact training, or performance monitoring. 

Or think of how a paper-based system for communicating and displaying standards could cause headaches when updating them.

Staff will pick up on these discrepancies, and it’ll affect their ability to do their job properly.

Feedback & problem-solving

Continuous improvement is a team sport. And your workers are your best players.

Educating your line operators on the principles of continuous improvement and the need to report from the front will create a new, productive communication channel between staff and management.

Workers on the line will be the first to spot problems and potential solutions. Engaging them and encouraging feedback will help you set tests and make iterations.

It’ll also create a sense of ownership over their work, and greater motivation.

Best software to help your factory workers 

The best way to ensure your workers’ safety, engagement, and satisfaction is by giving them the right tools to complete their jobs up to standard and in a timely manner.

A digital software is definitely the right tool to connect everyone in your factory across every single line, but it’s really important that whatever software you choose has, at the very least, solutions for the following:

  • Standardisation
  • Shop floor management
  • Audits
  • Action plans
  • Improvement ideas
  • HSE risks

All these aspects of your factory are crucial in keeping your workforce motivated, and it’s key that you optimise all these processes with the right software ASAP if you want to keep your key players and increase your bottom line.

mlean & factory workers 

Here at mlean, we know that workers make factories thrive.

They’re the heart that keeps your business alive and well.

And we’ve created a software that covers all the bases to keep your employees safe, focused, and motivated.

mlean Production System (mPS) has all the tools any factory would ever need to increase worker and customer satisfaction, quality across all lines, and efficiency. All this while minimising waste, downtime, and overproduction.

Just take a look and book a free demo with one of our sales people if you like what you see.

Your workforce will thank you!

Book your free demo here!

Seeing is believing

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