How to make your manufacturing plant enjoyable for employees

happy engineer

Corporate culture has a completely different meaning today than it did 50 years ago. It has become a means of competitive advantage, mainly in how companies with a more enjoyable workplace are able to recruit better talent than those who perhaps do not. It has become a tool for media sources to classify large corporations, like how Silicon Valley tech startups are criticized for being a “boys club,” for example.

Putting the spotlight on corporate culture has had a trickle-down effect, of sorts. Potential clients and employees alike are increasingly concerned with the quality of day-to-day life at a given company as they are with the quality of the goods or services a firm creates. Manufacturing firms may have their work cut out for them in regard to this issue, given the physically laborious roles and monotonous routines that manufacturing jobs sometimes demand.

Happy employees benefit everyone at a business. Here are 5 ways to make your manufacturing plant enjoyable for employees:

1. Encourage workers to maintain their physical fitness and health.

It’s a fact backed by science that regular levels of exercise and fitness release endorphins in the body. This goes hand-in-hand with many manufacturing jobs, who are often completed more efficiently by workers who are physically fit and healthy. Take advantage of this overlap by implementing programs that encourage the fitness of your employees.

Many American companies are taking part in a national fitness trend by creating workplace wellness programs (WWPs). Oftentimes, these are characterized by businesses taking an interest in the fitness level of their workers, and using fitness tracking technology to do so. An estimated 13 million wearable activity-tracking devices will be integrated into WWPs by the end of this year. Technology like a Fitbit is a modern alternative to having exercise facilities on-site at your workplace.

Many employees will be enthusiastic about work as a place where they are expected to both make a living and take care of their well-being. A company that takes an interest in its employees’ wellness outside of its function to the business will in turn have more engaged and productive employees. There are also other programs that satisfy this tip, that are less permanent than fitness trackers or an on-site gym. An example would be a bi-weekly yoga class that is led in the break room.

2. Create team building opportunities.

Team building exercises maybe an incredibly useful tool that can be used to foster camaraderie amongst co-workers. Workers that have forged a bond with each other are more likely to work in harmony or effectively solve a problem when conflict presents itself. Manufacturing workers will enjoy a day on the job more if they genuinely like the people they spend time with.

Regardless of your role within the manufacturing firm, the ability to collaborate and communicate is advantageous to any position, and this is exactly what team building promotes. Your company can take the traditional route like an outdoor picnic or a community service opportunity. Or it can join the dozens of companies that are pushing the envelope when it comes to what “team building” actually entails.

Examples would be participating in a team sport, like kickball or softball, an outdoor excursion, like a hike or a boat ride, or a social opportunity, like a night at the bar or a trivia game.

3. Take care of your employees’ personal safety.

Manufacturing is a field that is sometimes known to put its workers in a precarious situation or two. Manufacturing plant workers will be happier working at a company that they perceive advocates for the personal safety of its employees. This can be done in a number of ways.

For one, there should be a zero tolerance policy in place when it comes to deviation from OSHA standards. Companies should encourage workers to educate themselves on the latest regulations, or even sponsor paid workshops that help explain the boundaries for physical risk in the manufacturing environment. Workers should always feel comfortable blowing the whistle on any workplace practices or tasks that seem to be inconsistent with regulation.

Protective equipment is an important preventative measure in hazardous industries like manufacturing to limit employee exposure to harmful substances and situations. Workers may become accustomed to a certain level of physical risk on the job, but they should never feel like they are putting themselves in harm’s way. For more on the importance of PPE in the workplace, check out this blog post.

4. Stretch it out.

Breaks within the workday are extremely important for workers to recenter their focus and therefore maximize productivity. However, employees will appreciate designated break times that go beyond the standard lunch and water breaks. There is not data that supports the idea that stretching directly reduces work-related injuries, but it is known to improve overall flexibility and range of motion.

Stretching is ideal for employee breaks because individuals do not technically have to move from their work station in order to partake. A few minutes is enough time for stretching to be effective, so it can easily be built into the daily schedule of a business.

Floor managers can be educated by health professionals on what ideal stretches for manufacturing employees should look like. If your firm does not want to specifically designate periods for stretching, you can still sponsor lessons on why certain movements would be of benefit to employees, which individuals may choose to do in idle time they may have on the floor.

5. Celebrate special occasions.

Commemorating special occasions in unique ways makes employees feel like they are a part of something unique and gives them something to look forward to. Many workplaces have a birthday calendar, and take turns bringing in treats to celebrate their co-worker making another trip around the sun.

Toasting champagne for work anniversaries is another example of a way to celebrate. Commemorating different dates that are significant to the business or to an individual’s professional development creates a feeling of unity among employees at different levels.

The acknowledgement that one cannot always be professional breaks down the rigidness of any corporate culture. Google made headlines when it granted a young daughter’s request for her father to have off on his birthday.
Want to continue the conversation about workplace culture in manufacturing? Tweet us @AppleRubber, we’d love to hear from you!