manufacturing line manager with frontline team

by Amanda Fisher | June 19, 2020

If the health crisis made anything clear, it’s that organizations need tools for employee communication, productivity, and engagement specifically for their deskless and frontline workforce. In manufacturing particularly, we’ve seen companies lose access to employees they had to furlough. And now as manufacturing facilities begin to reopen, it is critical that organizations are able to communicate back to work protocols, changes to safety procedures, and keep employees engaged and feeling connected. 

In manufacturing, ensuring the continuity of a Safety Culture, where employees respect the job, respect each other, and are united under the common goal of ensuring that everyone makes it home every day is paramount to that feeling of being connected. At manufacturing companies, this kind of culture saves lives. And one important element of safety culture to follow is: no phones on the floor.

This definitely is logical for keeping people safe, but it puts a strain on employee communications down from corporate offices to those on the frontlines. The challenge of communication then falls onto frontline managers, putting them in a challenging position that often results in poor or limited communications to their workforce. Additionally, only key members of management and those with special exceptions get to carry their cell phones and have the line of communication open with the corporate office. They then have to cascade the information down to each department and the line managers have to physically round up their team to verbally reiterate the messages. This “cascade” model of communication is actually pretty common in any industry with deskless employees, and it’s often a huge source of miscommunication. 

It’s a bit of a Catch-22: no cell phones for line managers or workers means breakdowns in communication, which may hurt the culture, dissemination of safety information, and important updates. But having cell phones on the floor can have serious safety implications. So, what do you do?

If your goal is to improve internal communication, we always recommend starting with a channel assessment. This is when you look at the channels you have and who has access to them. Line managers might have access to the cascade of information from upper management and break room signage. That’s pretty limited. 

What if you had a mobile solution for those line managers and employees? This would dramatically increase the ability of the line managers to communicate with their teams and relay the most accurate information. For the employees, they could have a communications hub where they could get their benefits info, stories from corporate, and messages targeted to them. 

It’s not always about receiving real-time information while employees are working. In manufacturing, this is a huge way to build culture. Even if you already have a safety culture in place, having everyone using one tool to get one message can only strengthen that. 

With theEMPLOYEEapp an organization can solidify its safety protocols by allowing employees to report near misses, provide site-specific or job-specific safety training, tips, and a place to easily store certifications. There are so many applications without ever needing to take a cell phone out onto the floor.

The need to connect with your workforce during this transition time and into the restart of your organization requires a renewed commitment to not just their safety, but their understanding of your commitment to effectively communicating all your organization is doing to support them.

 

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