In an evolving work landscape, the clamor for flexibility among frontline workers is growing louder. Interestingly, recent Randstad data shows that 42% of blue-collar workers — individuals engaged in manual labor across diverse sectors, such as manufacturing — value job flexibility as much as pay, if not more. The research also found that 30% of non-office workers had quit a job due to a lack of flexibility.
What does this mean for manufacturing?
Addressing the Call for Flexibility
The need for flexible working conditions is particularly strong among gray-collar talent (roles merging aspects of blue and white-collar roles), with 48% considering it as important as pay, according to the Randstad research mentioned above. This trend signals a strong desire for specific flexible work arrangements, such as four-day or reduced workweeks, split shifts, night shifts, or flexible weekend hours. In response, manufacturing industries must adapt and incorporate flexibility into their work policies.
Traditionally, manufacturing has relied heavily on rigid schedules to meet operational demands. However, a shift in employees’ desires has been noted, especially among skilled hourly workers. Prioritizing employee engagement often leads to enhancements in efficiencies, outputs, and performance, nurturing more flexible and supportive work environments. This shift is imperative for fostering positive company cultures that value individual contributions and professionalism.
Empowering Frontline Workers Through Flexibility
Flexible schedules and increased control over work can provide multiple benefits to frontline workers and the organizations they work for, including:
- Improved work-life balance, allowing workers to handle personal obligations and engage in personal hobbies.
- Enhanced well-being with more time to rest and recharge, reducing the risk of burnout.
- Increased productivity, enabling workers to align their tasks with their peak energy and focus levels.
- Attraction and retention of talent, as flexible work helps attract and retain skilled workers who prioritize work-life balance.
Using Technology to Enable Flexibility
When flexibility is coupled with the use of an employee engagement platform, companies can reap even more benefits. Such platforms can give workers more control over their schedules, enabling them to align their tasks with their peak energy and focus levels. This leads to improved productivity and work quality. Plus, an employee engagement platform that offers flexibility offers competitive advantages for manufacturing companies. It aids in attracting and retaining skilled workers who prioritize work-life balance and flexibility, contributing to a more engaged and committed workforce.
For manufacturing companies, understanding the needs and wants of their frontline workers is key to boosting employee engagement. When leaders partake in active listening and address workers’ needs, they communicate that employees’ well-being is valued, boosting morale and job satisfaction. This approach can also increase productivity, as engaged employees often go the extra mile in their roles, improving the quality of their work. By understanding and addressing team members’ needs, companies can foster loyalty, reduce turnover, and retain valuable talent.
Employee engagement platforms and tools can aid leaders in meeting their employees’ needs for flexibility. Implementing digital systems, mobile applications, and employee self-service solutions — coupled with two-way employee communication — empowers employees, improves efficiencies, and provides more flexible work environments.
Manufacturing industries are uniquely positioned to use these employee engagement solutions and make their workplaces more flexible and supportive. The industry faces challenges, but with the right use of technology and a dedication to understanding and addressing the needs of their frontline workers, leaders can successfully tackle these challenges head-on. Effective employee engagement tools are critical in this endeavor, offering a range of benefits from improved employee productivity to a more engaged workforce.
At the heart of all this is the importance of critical communication in the journey toward greater flexibility. Providing a means for frontline workers to communicate their needs and wants enables businesses to take the necessary actions to meet employee expectations. It’s not just about digitization and technology; it’s about humanizing the workplace and giving a voice to frontline workers.
Flexibility as the New Norm
Manufacturers must not only listen to their workers, but also respond proactively. By leveraging technology and digital solutions, companies can better cater to their employees’ needs, thereby enhancing the employee experience, engagement, and overall productivity.
The ability to combine technology with a genuine understanding of employee needs is what will truly set successful manufacturing companies apart. After all, a company is only as good as the people it employs — and for frontline workers, job flexibility is the new frontier.
Kelsey Hellens is the Head of Customer Success at Wyzetalk, a leading digital employee experience platform that enables communication and improves engagement for frontline and non-desk workers. During her 10 years of experience in customer success roles, Kelsey has implemented 15+ enterprise mobile, digital, and change management solutions within the employee engagement industry.