Building a better manufacturing work culture starts with a new mindset

May 31, 2023 Christina DeBusk

Work team in factory warehouse shaking hands

Manufacturing is often process-focused. Companies in this industry invest a lot of time and money trying to figure out the quickest, most efficient, and least costly way to get the work done.

That’s great from a logistical standpoint but not always so good from a cultural standpoint, and an unhealthy manufacturing work culture can have negative consequences. The first step in changing this type of environment, and its effects, requires a shift in mindset.

Consequences of a poor manufacturing work culture

One of the most noticeable effects of poor work culture is low employee morale. Workers that aren’t engaged will simply come into work to “put in their time” and then go home.

There’s minimal creativity and innovation. Instead, employees go through the motions required with no concern about what they could do to promote the company’s mission and vision. This hinders their personal and professional growth while also inhibiting the growth of the company.

Poor manufacturing work cultures also tend to struggle with low retention rates as workers leave in droves in search of jobs that make them feel happier and more satisfied. High turnover rates lead to reduced productivity, and constantly training new workers to fill the revolving door of open slots is costly, ultimately impacting the bottom line.

For reasons such as these, there’s been a recent push to change the culture in manufacturing, hopefully correcting some of these issues. But creating this type of large-level change isn’t always easy because it requires an entire shift in mindset.

The importance of shifting mindsets in manufacturing

LSA Global, a consulting and training firm for businesses, stresses that any actions taken in an attempt to transform workplace culture are likely to “fall flat” if mindsets aren’t shifted in the process. More specifically, mindsets need to shift in terms of soft skills such as communication, information sharing, resilience, adaptability, and business acumen. While this might seem like an uphill battle, the payoff is there.

Research conducted by LSA Global revealed that when a company’s work culture is healthy, it contributes to a more aligned company. Taking this one step further, companies that are highly aligned increase their revenues 58% faster than their less aligned counterparts. They are also 72% more profitable.

What factor accounted for 40% of the difference between a highly aligned and poorly aligned company? A healthy, high-performing culture.  

How do you shift mindsets to improve manufacturing culture?

When we talk about shifting mindsets, we’re referencing the mindsets at all levels of employees, from the top down. Manufacturing leadership needs to shift their thoughts about workplace culture, not only recognizing when the culture needs to be elevated but also in terms of how to raise it. Employees also need to shift their mindsets for the entire culture to change.

Strategies that can help workplace leaders shift their mindsets include:

  • reinforcing that manufacturing isn’t just about processes but people too
  • developing a team environment in which each member plays a critical role
  • encouraging regular communication with all levels of employees
  • listening to employees’ concerns, then addressing them with action, if necessary

Ways to instigate a mindset shift in employees, which can also improve your ability to attract and retain talent, include:

  • letting them know that they are a valuable part of the team and making them feel as such
  • creating policies that encourage employees to come forward when something isn’t working
  • empowering them to take certain actions when performing their jobs
  • offering opportunities for employees to pursue personal and professional development
  • taking actions that provide employees with greater work-life balance

If your goal is to build a better work culture while maximizing operational efficiency, we’re here to help.

We offer a variety of staffing solutions for manufacturing companies, each one focused on finding you the right people for the job. Contact us today to learn more.

About the Author

Christina M. DeBusk creates small business content for a variety of publications, some of which include Businessing Magazine, Compendent, Chiropractic Economics, and more. She is also the author behind the column, "The Successful Solopreneur.

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