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How to reach and engage deskless employees in the manufacturing industry

There are unique employee engagement challenges for the manufacturing industry, not least due to the large number of difficult-to-reach, deskless employees. Organisations in this sector must use innovative strategies to ensure their workforce is engaged, motivated, and productive.

The importance of listening to your employees

Employee surveys are a great way for organisations in the manufacturing industry to understand employee sentiment and motivation, as well as to identify employee engagement issues. They can also be used to gain feedback on policies, job satisfaction, employee recognition programs, and provide invaluable insights into employee morale and engagement levels.

Organisations should strive to regularly run employee surveys to ensure they’re staying ahead of employee engagement issues and providing a positive work environment.

How employee engagement positively impacts the bottom line

With the tide rising regarding sector growth and employee potential, a critical component to continued and sustainable growth for manufacturing companies wanting to be a destination employer will be deploying an effective employee engagement strategy, which will positively impact the bottom line in three areas:

Reduced cost of hiring talent

Employee engagement's biggest financial impact is helping reduce recruitment and training costs. One of the clearest benefits of improving retention through regular employee engagement is reducing the volume of new hires by keeping and nurturing existing talent that could walk out the door to a competitor. It’s estimated that U.S. businesses lose $1 trillion every year on voluntary or regrettable turnover. Mitigating that loss can have a massive impact on revenue.

Culture is a magnet that impacts every part of the business

For modern manufacturing companies to attract employees, they will need to foster a workplace culture that aligns with employees’ values and goals. Companies can achieve this by creating shared values, open communication, and collaboration. In addition, incorporating a sense of purpose and belonging can attract Millennials and Gen Z employees who prioritise values like social impact and sustainability.

It’s hard to overestimate the impact of high turnover on company culture though. When people see a revolving door of exiting colleagues, forming work friendships feels fruitless, the value of which can’t be overstated. In fact, a landmark Gallup study suggested that companies with a higher ratio of employees had “best friends” would experience 36% fewer safety incidents, 7% more engaged customers, and 12% higher profit.

Improved productivity

Employee engagement is often just seen as ‘active listening’ to capture sentiment, but it’s really a systematic and predictable way to understand an organisation's dynamics, pinpoint areas for improvement and channel efforts toward a better employee experience. It’s a critical employee data resource that highlights risks, delivers critical insights before it’s too late and fosters innovation.

The immediate productivity benefit is reaching disenfranchised or marginalised employees through an effective engagement strategy. Disengaged employees are lower performers than engaged colleagues, with an 18% lower productivity rate, 15% lower profitability rate, and higher absenteeism rate. There is also a 37% increased likelihood of taking time off work. On average, a disengaged employee costs a company 34% of their annual salary or $3,400 for every $10,000 the employee makes.

Making employee engagement programmes more accessible to deskless workers

Having a great employee engagement programme is a waste of time if your employees can’t take part. It’s important to make employee surveys accessible for deskless employees in the manufacturing industry.

Many of these workers are unable to access employee engagement tools due to them being inaccessible or difficult to use on a smartphone or tablet – and many won’t have access to a corporate email address.

To ensure employee engagement is successful, organisations should provide mobile-friendly resources and leverage platforms like WorkBuzz, which offers a ‘kiosk’ mode and unique entry code so employees can access surveys from their own device.

This approach should extend to your wider communication strategy. How do you better connect head office, leadership and the deskless workforce? You should consider:

  • Who your deskless employees are. Build a picture using demographics, role descriptions and the challenges they face.
  • Why you need to talk to them. What information will you need to share?
  • When you’ll communicate. Take into consideration different shift patterns and time zones.
  • How you’ll communicate. Choosing the right channel is essential – specifically designed apps, internal communications tools (like Slack or SharePoint), kiosk stations, printed materials, bulletin boards, in-person conversations, texts and calls are all options.
  • What you’ll say. Tailor the content with clear impact and outcomes for your deskless audience.
  • Make it a two-way conversation. Ensure your strategy includes methods for employee feedback, either through regular pulse surveys or on an ad-hoc basis.


Download our eBook - Making Manufacturing an Employee Destination Industry - which explores how the manufacturing sector is re-inventing itself and why improving employee engagement can make manufacturing a destination for talent who wants to join the industry and, most importantly, stay, here. And if you'd like to know more about how to improve employee engagement in the manufacturing industry, read this article.

Ready to take employee engagement to the next level at your organisation? Book a demo today using the form below to learn how the WorkBuzz employee engagement platform can help you build a better culture for your teams.


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