Manufacturing companies need tools for employee communication, productivity, and engagement, specifically for their frontline managers and deskless workers. Manufacturing organizations must communicate work protocols and safety procedures while keeping employees engaged and connected. But there are many barriers to effective communication in the manufacturing industry. In this blog, we’ll share what chose challenges are and how to improve manufacturing communication in a few steps.
Barriers to Effective Communication in the Manufacturing Industry
Effective communication is crucial in the manufacturing sector, but there are several common barriers that can hinder communication processes. Addressing these barriers requires proactive measures, such as finding technology for real-time communication, fostering a culture of open communication, and providing training and development opportunities to enhance communication skills among your manufacturing employees and leaders.
1. Lack of Technological Infrastructure
A Safety Culture is where employees respect the job, respect each other, and are united under the common goal of ensuring that everyone makes it home every day. This kind of culture saves lives. But to create a culture of communication and understanding of the actual policies and procedures that keep workers safe, you need to have the right methods of communication and support structures for managers.
But one important part of a safety culture is the rule: no cellphones on the floor.
When operating heavy machinery, this is a logical rule for keeping people safe. But it puts a strain on employee communications for those on the frontlines. The challenge of communication then falls onto frontline managers. This puts 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 cell phones and have the line of communication open with the corporate office. They then have to cascade the information down to each department. Finally, the line managers have to physically round up their team to verbally reiterate the messages. This cascade communication model is standard in any industry with deskless employees and is often a huge source of miscommunication.
It’s a Catch-22, though. No cell phones for line managers or workers means breakdowns in communication. No direct communication may hurt the culture, dissemination of safety information, and essential updates. Yet, having cell phones on the floor can have profound safety implications. So, what do you do?
2. Lack of Manager Communication Support
Ineffective communication at manufacturing companies is often exacerbated by a lack of manager communication skills.
Managers play a crucial role in facilitating effective communication by serving as the primary link between leadership and frontline employees. However, due to various reasons such as time constraints, limited training, or a focus on operational tasks, some managers may struggle to prioritize communication and provide the necessary support to their teams.
The demanding nature of manufacturing operations also places significant time constraints on managers, leaving them with limited opportunities for meaningful communication with their teams. This can lead to a lack of feedback, inadequate recognition, and insufficient support, all of which contribute to decreased morale and engagement among employees. By prioritizing manager support and creating a culture of open communication, manufacturing companies can improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall organizational success.
3. Managing and Communicating With Multiple Shifts
Shift work is a common practice in manufacturing to enable continuous operation. However, managing effective communication and maintaining alignment across different shifts can be a significant challenge.
The very nature of shift work means groups of your employees are working at different times.This can make it difficult to notify all employees of changes or important updates at the same time, especially if you don’t have a consolidated internal communication channel.
How to Improve Employee Communication in Manufacturing
So, how do you address the top three challenges to effective communication in the manufacturing industry? Try these approaches.
|Challenge||How to Identify the Problem||Technology Solutions|
|Lack of technological infrastructure||Conduct a channel audit to understand which employees have access to which tools.||Invest in a mobile-first solution (like an employee app or sms texting) that’s accessible off the manufacturing floor.|
|Lack of manager communication support||Employee surveys of both managers and their direct reports can help you identify manager comms challenges.||Invest in technology that lets managers receive targeted communications (e.g. talking points, resources, and training).|
|Managing and communicating with multiple shifts||Use your internal comms audit to determine the distribution of key messages and if they are inequitably distributed.||Invest in solutions that let you target messages and schedule them to be sent to each shift at the right times.|
If your goal is to improve internal communication, the best place to start will be a channel assessment. This is when you look at the channels you have and who has access to them. For example, 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 your frontline managers and employees? This would dramatically increase the ability of the line managers to communicate with their teams and relay the most accurate information. The employees 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, everyone using one tool can only strengthen that.
Use theEMPLOYEEapp for More Effective Manufacturing Communication
By implementing these strategies, manufacturing companies can mitigate the communication challenges associated with shift work and different schedules. Creating a robust communication infrastructure, standardizing protocols, fostering cross-shift collaboration, and training supervisors will help ensure consistent and effective communication across all shifts. This, in turn, promotes a cohesive work environment, enhances employee engagement, and supports overall operational success.
With theEMPLOYEEapp, a company 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 store certifications easily. There are so many applications without ever needing to take a cell phone out onto the floor.
Ready to take the next step? Let’s get in touch.
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