CPA & Business Advisory Blog

Employee Engagement

Looking for a Profitability Secret Weapon? Try Employee Engagement

This article is published by Skoda Minotti’s Manufacturing & Distribution Group.

Boosting profits is a goal that’s near the top of every manufacturer’s priority list. So what strategies can you employ to get there?

There’s process automation, marketing, inventory management, enterprise transformation and more. Lots more. But have you ever considered employee engagement?

That’s right, engaging employees. While it may seem “touchy / feely” on the surface, the benefits are real, and engagement doesn’t require a huge capital investment.

Engaging your workforce – making them feel attached to their work, making them feel valued, and empowering them with confidence and a sense of purpose – has been shown to improve safety, reduce employee absences and turnover, and spur an overall increase in productivity—up to 70 percent, according to some studies. These benefits, in turn, help to boost customer satisfaction and ultimately, company profitability.

In an increasingly competitive manufacturing marketplace, employee engagement can truly be your secret weapon. And what a weapon it is.

Not sure where to start? While there are no hard-and-fast rules or established processes for boosting employee engagement, consider these three broad strategies as a foundation upon which you and your team can build your company’s employee engagement efforts.

  1. Make employees feel valued: Studies show that we as humans strive to feel that we bring value and make tangible contributions to our world. This need is as present in our workplaces as it is in our personal lives. It is a leader’s or a manager’s job to ensure that each employee, no matter how seemingly insignificant their position, knows their role in the organization and understands how their work fits within the company’s goals and strategic initiatives. Pull back the curtain a little and show how a slight improvement in the quality of their particular step in the process can snowball into a large increase in the overall health of the company. When employees see the impact of their work on the company as a whole, they will likely be more committed to their job—and doing it well.
  2. Encourage and foster growth: Anyone who has ever tried to train a dog (or children) knows you get a lot further with positive reinforcement than punishment. All employees should be reviewed regularly and provided with positive feedback, rather than a laundry list of what they’ve done wrong. Help them with setting goals and strategies for improvement. Your company’s honest and consistent feedback shows employees you want to see them grow and succeed. Publicly recognize and reward employees who perform well and go above and beyond in their roles. Offer educational opportunities outside of regular job training, like personal financial management (often available free-of-charge through your 401(k) provider), or life skills resources through an employee assistance program, to show you are committed to them even after their shift is over. Send employees with management potential to training to develop leadership skills. Any financial costs will be offset by the benefits of a better trained and more engaged workforce.
  3. Listen to employees: Make sure key people on your management team – be they HR representatives, managers or executives – are taking time to engage employees about what they (i.e., the employees) see, think, want and This doesn’t necessarily have to be in regard to salary or perks. Your employees are your eyes and ears on the front lines and know which machines and processes are clunky and outdated. Being “in the trenches,” they probably see opportunities for efficiencies not apparent to management. They may also have key insights on what motivational perks would lead to the greatest successes. Listening to employees and then acting on that information as appropriate, shows that you value them and their input. You may not be able to grant all requests (like a jumbo-tron in the break room, for example), but adding an additional microwave, or replacing that temperamental pallet truck, shows you care enough to listen—and that goes a long way.

Do you have questions about implementing employee engagement initiatives at your manufacturing company, or boosting current employee engagement efforts? Contact Rebecca Ferris or Jon Shoop at 440-449-6800 or email Rebecca Ferris or Jon Shoop.

Today's Manufacturer

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