Looking back, 2020 brought unprecedented challenges at an unimaginable scope for people at work and in their personal lives, as well as, businesses both domestic and abroad.  

Manufacturers, many of which were deemed essential businesses, had a particularly challenging year. The pandemic brought added complexities such as disruption in the supply chain, the need for enhanced health and safety procedures, shifting production demands, and fluctuations in labor availability. What a year to learn that hindsight is indeed 2020. 


As manufacturers begin to examine how they pivoted their practices to combat those challenges, one theme continues to emerge. The dedication and resiliency of their hourly frontline workforce, who continued to clock in and did their jobs safely and effectively throughout the pandemic.  
 

Many manufacturers adapted quickly to help support their employees, offering “hero pay,” double (or even triple) overtime pay, and extended time off for those in need. This support helped reinforce the value that employees bring to the organization and how vital their contributions are. 

As organizations begin to shift gears moving into 2021, there is ample opportunity to continually show employees that they are valued. Employee Appreciation Day is a great place to start. Observed on the first Friday in March, the day is dedicated for organizations to thank their employees for their hard work and effort throughout the year.  

While it’s important to use this day as a reminder to recognize your workforce, it should only be a small part of a larger employee engagement strategy. Building a comprehensive culture that focuses on day-to-day opportunities to show appreciation, build trust, and increase engagement is a benefit to the employee as much as it is to the employer.  

How can organizations develop this? Two key areas stand out: 

1. Focus on recognition  

Managing day to day operations is complex. With all that frontline supervisors deal with during a shift, it’s easy to let the little things such as birthdays, work anniversaries, or a job well done, slip by.   

But recognizing and celebrating these events with your employees boosts morale, builds a stronger -employee-manager relationship, and fosters stronger engagement. A study conducted by Human Resource Executive found that higher engagement is linked to company cultures that embrace recognition. 
 

The power of recognition

 

Why is this so important? Not only does it create a better employee experience, it also impacts retention. A study conducted by Forbesfound that companies that score in the top 20% for building a “recognition rich culture” had a  31%  lower  voluntary turnover rate over other companies. 

Building opportunities for recognition into your culture doesn’t have to be difficult. Using modern human capital management technologies allow managers to have visibility into special dates and can even push out alerts so they aren’t forgotten. Managers can also encourage peer-to-peer recognition, building comradery among their teams.  

2. Encourage time off 

Managing work-life balance and flexibility is top of mind for employees, especially considering the challenges they face today. Yet, the United States is the only country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that does not mandate paid vacation. SHRM reports that research consistently shows the health benefits of taking vacation time, like improved productivity, lower stress, and better mental health, but data shows that Americans aren’t taking that time.  

Vacation Days Used

Why aren’t employees taking time off? According to Glassdoor, the reasons U.S. workers don't use their vacation time include fear of pending layoffs, guilt over leaving additional work for teammates, and workplace pressures such as appearing less dedicated or replaceable.  

Managers can combat this with leading by example, being sure to take time when they need it and by encouraging their employees to do the same. Creating an environment where people are well rested and feel valued enough to take time off without fear of repercussion will contribute to a stronger, more employee-centric culture, and a more productive workforce.  

The AMA found that working adults reported that following time off, they were more productive (58 percent) and their work quality was better (55 percent).  

To support this effort, managers can empower their employees with tools to help manage their schedules. Mobile-ready workforce management technology for example, enables employees to easily access their schedule from anywhere and take actions including swapping shifts, or submitting time off requests.  

Click here for more information on how technology can help support creating an employee-centric culture.
 

For more resources on how UKG can provide WFM and HCM solutions for your manufacturing workforce, click here.

Published: Friday, February 26, 2021