There are several advantages of keeping staff motivated and retaining long-term employees. Companies can save time and money when recruiting, productivity levels can increase, and they may also discover new ways of working which can lead to positive bottom-line results. A low turnover in staff numbers suggests the company really puts its people first and they are happy with how the business operates and how they are treated.
For many Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) providers, employees are their most valuable asset, despite all the expensive capital equipment used every day. But of course, people change and so do their needs. Keeping staff motivated and happy over extended periods of time requires dedication and commitment from both parties. Easier said than done!
In this blog post we look at 6 factors that can help to contribute to employee satisfaction within an electronics manufacturing organization.
1. Culture and working environment
A good working atmosphere can lead to employee satisfaction and have a positive impact on their health – both physical and mental. For the company, this can lead to a greater sense of team spirit, an improved collaboration between departments, higher levels of productivity and reduced sickness rates.
But how do you create a good working atmosphere? Unfortunately, this is not something you can buy, it takes time to build and must evolve. Open communication (both ways) is especially important. Regular updates about the company’s mission, vision, goals and performance help staff to understand the path the company is on. Transparent communication is critical; everyone likes to hear when the company is doing well, but it is also important to address challenges when they arise.
Finding the right balance of when to communicate with staff, at what level, and in which form, is something that every business must continue to perfect. Internal newsletters, corporate social networking services such as Yammer or Beekeeper, on in-person ‘town hall’ meetings are just some of the options available.
And of course, there is also the social aspect. EMS companies are complex organizations, made up of experts covering a wide range of subjects – from design engineers and production operatives, through to supply chain, finance, sales, and marketing professionals. Finding new ways for staff to socialize together and learn more about personal interests and individual cultures can help build strong and resilient teams. Whether that means hosting ‘large-scale’ company events, such as annual dinners and barbecues, or supporting local activities and sporting events, it doesn't really matter, the principle remains the same. Strong teams make strong companies.
2. Flexible working/workplace flexibility
There are two main components to flexible working: a distinction between place and time. For example, some staff may have flexibility in their choice of physical workplace. This might include working from home or from a ‘hot desk’ set up in another location if the company has several sites. When it comes to the time element, employees could decide the hours they work depending on when they feel they are the most productive.
Flexible working can have a number of benefits, both for the the company and for individuals. For example, a larger pool of talent can be tapped into if employers are not restricted to a physical location. Talent is also more likely to be retained in the future, as staff have more choice and options, allowing them to better balance their work and time. This can help increase productivity and output, particularly if previous daily commutes to and from manufacturing locations are reduced or removed altogether.
Having the option of flexible working can lead to employees feeling happier and less stressed because they are able to better balance their personal and professional lives. The Coronavirus pandemic and the tools many of us now use on a daily basis, such as Teams and Zoom, have accelerated this shift. Previous complications of connecting and communicating with staff whilst they were offsite disappeared overnight.
Of course, not all jobs lend themselves to the same levels of flexibility and not all employees can be productive when working remotely. Companies that have not considered this before need to ensure they have the policies, systems, and hardware in place to support those who can and want to work remotely, but also those who can’t.
3. Competitive benefits
There are two important points when it comes to benefits. Firstly, it is essential to ensure that all employees are paid fairly. Annual goal setting and employee evaluations with supervisors can help to ensure that the correct pay bands are in place and that employees are rewarded according on their experience. Regular benchmarking of salaries in the local area, along with reviewing job titles and descriptions, can help companies to remain competitive on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.
Besides pay, several other benefits are becoming increasingly important to staff. In addition to flexible working mentioned above, the amount of paid holidays, pension contributions, private healthcare, training and development schemes, access to mental health services, nutritional advice, clean and modern workspaces, fresh fruit, staff discounts for gyms or wellness centers etc. all continue to feature in staff surveys.
Again, it is both important and difficult to find a balance. What one individual sees as a benefit will not be valued in the same way by others. And of course, company benefits cost time and money, so engaging with staff regularly to understand what the majority really value is part of the learning curve and helps avoid disappointment.
4. Meaningful work
In general, most staff members want to know that the work they complete serves a purpose and is meaningful to the wider organization. Not knowing how or why you fit into the ‘big picture’ can be demotivating and unfulfilling. Staff who are clear about their purpose are generally more satisfied, more committed, and therefore more efficient.
To help staff understand how and why their roles are vital to the organization as a whole, it is important that they have a clear understanding of the overall mission and vision. Why does the company exist, what purpose does it serve? Without knowing this, it can be difficult for staff to relate to their work or activities, which can result in a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Continuous improvement plays an important role too. Providing staff with the tools to suggest changes in their work or how the business operates, no matter how big or small, is a smart move. This could be as simple as a suggestion box, an online platform, a regular survey, or a more personal face-to-face session with supervisors. Minor changes within manufacturing organizations can really add up, so creating an open, safe, and accessible system is key to helping staff feel that their input is valued and that they are listened to.
5. Career development
Companies that establish a clear career development path for their employees are more likely to retain them for longer. Not all staff want to develop their skills, many are satisfied in the roles they have, so again, it is important to tailor in-house schemes. For those that are keen to develop they will want to understand what opportunities are available, what it will take to get there and if there will be additional pay and benefits. Making sure you have the right people in the right ‘seats’ is the main priority, otherwise it could likely cause a significant amount of frustration and disruption. For example, a person who performs very well at one level, but is then promoted to a new position without having the right skills, experience, or training, could easily fail later on.
Transparent communication between staff and their supervisors helps to ensure the right balance can be found. It is recommended that all staff are provided with the opportunity to develop their skills as this naturally provides extra value back to the company. Supervisors should then ensure that appropriate development paths are put in place according to the level of progression, the needs of the business and aspirations of the individual. And if this means little or no progression, it does not automatically mean that this is a bad thing.
6. Supportive leaders
Supportive leaders can increase employee well-being, job satisfaction, and overall health in the workplace. But what makes a leader supportive?
Being approachable and understanding of different personalities is a good start. For leaders with several team members, it is important they get to know them individually, as each will have their own set of needs and expectations. Adapting management styles is often required to get the absolute best out of each team member and avoid misunderstanding. This is particularly important in global organizations where diverse cultures and languages come into play.
Organizing team meetings and 1-2-1’s allows the team to meet in unity, but also allows the leader and individual team members to create distinct bonds. Supportive leaders should clearly communicate the vision and strategy of the department and allow staff to make decisions and take accountability for their own results, offering support and guidance if needed. Respectful interaction, praise, recognition, objection setting and constructive feedback all help employees feel they are being heard and supported.
Keeping staff motivated can translate into many benefits for a company. Employees are more likely to stay in their positions longer, which in turn can add real value to the business as it grows. However, there is not a magic answer, and as the recent pandemic and wave of supply chain issues have shown us, companies must remain agile and flexible in many areas.
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