6 Benefits of Executives Walking the Floor & Engaging Your People
When’s the last time you walked the shop floor and engaged with your people who get the job done on the line day after day? If you’re a manager, COO or CEO, you’re dealing with bottom lines, efficiencies, throughput, supply chain headaches, hiring woes and everything else on your plate. It can seem like there aren’t enough hours in your busy workday to visit with the folks on the shop floor. We’d ask you to rethink that. Engaging with your employees might not seem like a bottom-line priority, but it’s more important now than ever, especially as it pertains to employee retention.
Here are a few stats to illustrate why:
- More than 1 million manufacturing jobs are unfilled in the U.S., according to a report released in March 2022 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a record high in manufacturing, and the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. If you’ve been on the front lines of hiring to fill those open positions, or if you’re vexed that your productivity is suffering because of a short staff, you know how tough it is to get people in the door, and the consequences for your bottom line if you don’t.
- Just 36% of U.S. employees are engaged at work, and 74% are actively looking for new jobs, according to a Gallup survey.
- 94% of employees say they’d stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development, LinkedIn reports.
- The pandemic-wrought supply chain disruptions and inventory uncertainty continue to plague manufacturers.
What those varied numbers and stats add up to is, it’s really tough out there. Hiring is more difficult than ever, the skills gap is widening, employees still on the job are not engaged, and all of it is affecting your bottom line, productivity, throughput, efficiency… the whole nine yards.
One simple way to start tackling all of those problems is walking the floor, talking to employees and getting a sense of what’s happening on the line day to day. We guarantee you’ll find it illuminating.
For over 50 years, we at USC Consulting Group have leveraged the benefits of doing just that. Here are six reasons why you should too:
1. You’ll gain a better understanding of your operations
At USC, that’s why we work side by side with frontline workers when we engage with a company. There are no better sources of truth of the day-to-day operations than the men and women on your shop floor. Experience first-hand the ins-and-outs of what makes your operations hum and what is hindering it.
2. Employee engagement equals business success
We’ve seen this time and time again. Just one example: We recently worked with a manufacturer that was dealing with dwindling efficiency due to challenges on many different fronts. They were having employee hiring and retention problems, machinery issues and operations and communications breakdowns. Management had let slip decades-old initiatives that had given them shop floor controls and visibility. This was a key piece to the puzzle. We helped them create a Management Operations System that involved them getting on the front lines and engaging with those employees. The result was a boost in production improvement. Read more about it in our case study, “Construction Materials Supplier Builds Up Equipment and Employee Engagement Programs.”
3. Build a promotion pipeline from your front lines
As you get to know your employees better, you can spot talent that could benefit from increased training and development for internal promotions. This has cascading benefits. Remember that LinkedIn statistic? Ninety-four percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. That’s not just for white-collar jobs. And your whole staff will see your commitment to developing and promoting your people on the line. Internal promotions increase employee retention companywide.
4. You can also spot trouble sooner
Just as you’ll notice who is doing a stellar job, you may well find some people who aren’t. The weak links in the operation. You can also spot breakdowns in efficiency and opportunities to improve what may be going wrong by simply walking around on a frequent basis.
5. You’ll get great ideas to help improve operations
Our clients are all different, with unique challenges. The one thing we see everywhere we go is, the people on the line, the ones who do the job every day, can have the most informed and effective ideas — ideas that may not have occurred to management — about how to improve productivity, efficiency or any other challenges that arise.
6. You’ll help boost morale
Workers feel more valued and appreciated when the “higher-ups” take the time to get to know them, listen to them and are concerned about any issues they may be experiencing.
The bottom line is, take the time to walk around your facilities from time to time. There’s no downside to engaging with your workers on the shop floor. You’ll develop relationships with your staff, gain a good handle on what’s going on day to day, and create engagement up and down the line. Read more about it in “How to Increase Employee Engagement and Training to Improve Retention.”