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ResourceMFG | Manufacturing Workforce Specialists
4 ways to beat the manufacturing communication barrier

It's no secret that plant workers are the heart and soul of manufacturing. Any company would do well to remember how important they are to the industry.

But in its 2017 State of the American Workforce Report, Gallup found that only 25% of manufacturing workers felt engaged in their work, compared to 33% for workers in other industries nationwide. Unengaged workers ultimately impact productivity, safety and overall company culture.

One of the most effective ways to engage employees, in any workplace, is through regular communication. Of course, that's easier said than done. Here are four effective ways of breaking down the barrier and communicating in the factory.

1. Get to know your workers through town halls
One of the biggest challenges of communicating to manufacturing plant workers is the risk of "corporate speak." In fact, according to a survey by TR Cutler Inc., roughly 82% of manufacturing CEOs said they had difficulty talking to their plant workers. You don't want management to sound like they're talking down to the workers.

Connection to your staff is much easier when you communicate with an appropriate and respectful tone. Holding regular town hall meetings with factory workers creates an open dialogue with management and gives employees a chance to feel heard. Plus, managers and workers can form relationships and get to know one another.

2. Don't overload workers with confusing information
Excess communication is the enemy of engagement. With too much information to sift through, your workers won't know what matters most or why they're receiving the message. Make your messages honest, clear and relevant.

Better yet, provide value in your communications to staff. Offer them training, resources or even just an opportunity to better understand what they're doing and why it's so important.

3. Make sure managers are available and accessible
Managers should make it known to those they supervise that they are available to speak about any given situation. They may even hold office hours wherein workers can stop by to ask questions, solve a problem or maybe just have a chat.

Every interaction is a chance to communicate and engage a worker. But employees won't have that chance if management is nowhere to be found.

4. Post specific productivity goals and benchmarks
An easy way of communicating expectations is obviously to make them well-known across the factory. This allows every worker to know and understand exactly what they need to do and prioritize to stay productive. By providing data to your workers, you let them know where they stand in real-time in relation to those clearly defined goals.

Consider using a smartphone app or digital network where employees can receive these communications at work, but be sure to physically share them with everyone, too. Not every worker may have email or a smartphone, which makes digital communication limited, but not impossible.

With these four tips, your factory will be well on its way to communicating and boosting employee engagement.