18 Nov 2017 16:00 IST

Making factories great places to work

Nothing can make employees happier than an empathetic management’s ability to understand the workers

Working in factory shop floors is a challenging experience that could result in occupational stress, thus affecting mental health and physical well-being of the employee.

Right from ambient noise levels, lifting and moving of machines and tools that require physical endurance to braving hazardous situations like welding fumes and unsafe environments, a shop floor worker’s life has its own unique set of challenges. It is clearly not for the faint hearted!

It is undeniable that years of governmental intervention, as well as employee activism have made shop floors more conducive for working. But nothing can make employees happier and their work lives more fulfilling than an empathetic management’s ability to understand the workers’ experience, and redesign workspaces accordingly.

Making them happy

Handling the humdrum of routine processes, in addition to the mounting pressures of meeting targets can be greatly smoothed by an employee-centric work culture that focuses on elevating work environment. Higher salary alone cannot make an employee happy. To keep them motivated and going, , the following steps will help greatly.

Inclusiveness

A uniform culture fosters an atmosphere of inclusiveness, and ensures uniformity in the factory culture, where every man and woman is treated with equal trust and respect.

Ensuring, for example, that the whole organisation, right from the directors to the trainees, is attired in a similar fashion instils a sense of belongingness and confidence in employees. Similarly, if everyone eats the same food, is subject to the same rules and policies, and is informed of company gains and losses… all these will contribute to egalitarianism and inclusiveness.

No siren please!

The days of sirens are now fading. When almost every employee has either a wristwatch or a smartphone, and where clocks are widely accessible, sirens as a method of military enforcement of work time is not desirable.

Employees are inducted into the workforce after robust training processes and therefore, need not be told by sirens about their punching-in and -out times. Industrial sirens induce a sense of panic and heightened stress. They can be avoided to create a noise-free, positive and peaceful environment where employees are naturally motivated to turn in to work.

Are you listening?

The voice of the workers is not one to be ignored or avoided. The management should always have an open door system, where workers can freely speak their minds without fear. Creating forums to address employee grievances and ensuring faith by enforcing confidentiality measures will embolden employees to share their thoughts, ideas or concerns. Acknowledging and acting on reasonable requests from the workers will go a long way in retaining employees.

Recess to refresh

Most production facilities run hectic, non-stop schedules to meet production demands. This relentless passion to achieve numbers might add to the company’s bottom line, but will result in the lowering of employee morale and satisfaction.

Ensuring that employees are accorded proper breaks between production time helps relieve the bottled up stress, thus allowing moments of reflection and rest, so the employees can come back with renewed verve.

We trust you

Archaic practices of issuing coffee coupons or tokens add to unnecessary admin work — fixing rigid time periods for coffee breaks; limiting the number of coffee cups one can consume… all these point to the opposite of trust. After all, how much coffee can one drink, anyway?

And allowing free access to coffee machines without having to fish around for coupons can be very refreshing — and motivating.

All work and no play…

Breaking routines is as important as making them. Planning and rolling out employee team building activities creates a fun, collaborative and entertaining environment, that feeds back into the system.

At the end of the year, employees may have forgotten their hits and misses on the shop floors, but hardly anyone would forget the fun times they had. Identifying these avenues and ensuring that employees get time to enjoy themselves, and get a chance to exhibit their talents in organised programmes can make any factory a great place to work.

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