Christian Grossman explains why improving team communication for increased employee engagement, work satisfaction, and workforce community has never been more important

Employee productivity is currently a hot topic across Europe.With Britain being 15 per cent less productive than the rest of its EU counterparts, it’s an area that UK manufacturers are focusing on heavily in 2018. One solution to the productivity puzzle up until now has been to invest in technology that helps improve manufacturing operations, processes, and efficiencies, yet this investment has focused largely on machinery and equipment and less so on people. For some companies, this has led to a lack of employee engagement and diminished company culture which affects business revenue. Failure to invest in employee engagement and workplace culture means that companies won’t be getting the most of their workforce investment, resulting in potentially reduced productivity.

According to the 2017 Gallup poll only 17 per cent of the UK workforce is engaged with an alarming 26 per cent actively disengaged in the workplace. Here are some of the primary challenges facing manufacturing workforces when it comes to fostering employee engagement and a thriving workplace culture.

Differing shift schedules
For manufacturing employees that work across day and night shifts, not everyone is in the building at the same time.This means planning a meeting to communicate updates or facilitate discussions is not always possible.

Work site location
Companies whose manufacturing teams works across sites make interaction, collaboration and communication between the entire workforce unviable without time-consuming and costprohibitive travel.

Language barriers
Global manufacturers with employees in different countries are likely to face this challenge, as language barriers can impede effective internal communication.

Different roles require different access; not everyone needs an email address or to be on site regularly, running the risk that e-bulletins or bulletin boards won’t reach every employee.

Is an employee app the answer?
Investment in HR tech and workforce management software is something managers should consider as part of their strategy to generate productivity.The above internal communication barriers can be solved through the use of collaboration software that brings whole companies together and is accessible to your employees when they need it most. Empowering manufacturing staff with instant access to internal communication tools via an employee app can address the above issues. Increasing employee engagement has a positive effect on employee happiness, instilling a strong company culture while improving productivity.

The capabilities of a team app for manufacturing workforce management

Chat messages
Facilitating interactions between managers, employees, and colleagues eliminates feelings of isolation and creates a sense of belonging regardless of location or role. Messaging functions allow chats to be one-to-one or for teams to have separate groups ensuring only relevant content is posted. Sharing successes, new operational processes and company news results in better collaboration, improved working relationships, and better work practices.

Real-time information sharing
Real-time information distribution means your workforce is prepared in the event of emergency and provides management with instant feedback and comments from employees for quick response. Creating a two-way internal communication channel helps employees feel valued.

Mobile HR operations
With a team app, employees can request time off or change shifts, which speeds up the process and puts an end to the cumbersome paper request forms. Other HR processes such as viewing recent payslips can be automated with chatbots for instant document retrieval.

Company-wide announcements
Sharing successes company-wide creates a sense of achievement and pride for the whole team, especially those involved with the accomplishment. This activity works well when it comes from both management and employees as everyone feels as those their contribution is worth celebrating.

Initiate employee surveys and polls
Regular employee polls on company decisionmaking or changes communicates that management values everyone’s opinion. Often those in charge find it hard to have an understanding of everyone’s wants and needs. Though it’s impossible to satisfy an entire workforce, poll responses help to move in that direction.

Reference resource
Information from new hire trainings to company policies and guidelines can all be hosted on a team app. Offering this as a digital resource to your manufacturing workforce saves both HR and employee time. In more serious scenarios hosting crisis response and recovery plans on a team app gives everyone mobile access which can help improve the worker safety.

Inline translation
Team app content can be translated to different languages so your workforce can feel confident they understand.

In addition to creating a thriving manufacturing workplace, companies find the investment in a team communication app invaluable to improved productivity, leading discussions, knowledge sharing, and more invested employees.

Christian Grossman
Cristian Grossman is CEO, Beekeeper. Beekeeper is a communications platform that improves the internal communications for organisations like manufacturers, whose employees are spread around.