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ResourceMFG | Manufacturing Workforce Specialists
How to build community within your manufacturing company

Modern organizations know the importance of creating a positive company culture. A lack of culture not only leads to inefficiencies, it also drives employee turnover.

In fact, 1 in every 5 Americans have left a job due to toxic workplace culture, according to SHRM. That figure represents a $223 billion loss in the five years prior to that 2019 report. So yes, it's obvious that company culture does matter. But what does "culture" actually mean? More importantly, how can manufacturers build one?

Building culture through community
It's hard to build culture without first building community – and no, these two phrases are not one and the same.

The key difference, according to Inc., is that culture is imposed on your workforce, whereas community is participatory. In other words, culture is more concerned with the company's values and how each employee fits into that framework. On the other hand, community instills a sense of belonging – a purpose-driven, team-oriented professional mindset.

Yet, values still matter. Rather than impose your company values on the workforce, make this decision a collaborative process. Give employees a voice in the matter and empower them to be heard. In doing so, you establish a clear direction for your organization while also taking a big first step toward community.

Leaders should be prioritizing empathy
Of course, building community – and culture by extension – all starts with management. It's imperative that every leader is on board with the community-building process. More importantly, they need to actively take steps to reach out and initiate with employees.

Yet, most leaders are dropping the ball in this regard. According to research from Everfi, organizational leaders aren't proactive enough in building culture. In fact, only 38% of employees agree that their managers are taking the necessary steps to build a positive culture.

One of the first and easiest ways a leader can kick things off on the right foot is by practicing empathy. No longer is it enough to have a conversation with your employees – you need to actually listen. More accurately, you need to respond with empathy.

This is a critical leadership skill that will go a long way toward establishing community. By practicing empathy in every employee interaction, you set a community precedent that can be replicated across the entire organization. According to Michael Kurland, CEO of Branded Group, this is especially important for the modern workforce.

"Today's employees want to be seen, heard and understood," he wrote in Forbes. "They want to be valued for their contributions, their talents and their humanity . . . they want more, and if their current employer can't (or won't) provide this, they'll find someone who does."

Indeed, modern organizations are learning more than ever before the value of their employees. Positive workplace cultures are boons to productivity, engagement and retention. Moreover, they require communication, leadership and – above all else – a lot of empathy.

When it comes to building a successful culture, it truly takes a community.