5 Key Considerations For Manufacturing Leaders During Covid-19

Worker with hardhat and phone

The manufacturing sector employs 7% of the total Australian workforce and 11% of the New Zealand workforce. Across ANZ, it accounts for over AUD 120 billion in GDP and in Australia it’s the fourth largest sector by GDP. With such large numbers at stake, it’s clear to us at Konnective that helping manufacturing companies stay operational will be key for both the Australian and New Zealand economies.

Through our experience, there are five key considerations leaders need to be taking into account in their business continuity planning. 

1. Transparency

With ever-evolving State and Federal government rules regarding the phases of restrictions, it can be challenging for employees to understand how this impacts their company’s specific return to work (RTW) policy. Transparency in regards to RTW and contingency planning and corporate responses to government decisions should be prioritised so both desk and non-desk bound employees have confidence in how and where they should be completing their work. 

Employees need to trust their employer will reliably provide updates during this pandemic period. This is particularly important for shift-based workers who may not always be on site to receive updates. In 2018, Microsoft Australia released research indicating 42% of firstline workers believed streamlined communication from leadership would help alleviate workplace pressure. Fast forward to 2020 and it seems little has changed in terms of changing how companies communicate, but the need is even greater than before.

We believe this is where Konnective can help. By providing an easy to use employee app, for a fraction of the price of a text message, you can reach your workforce wherever they are, direct to their mobile phones. 

2. Employee Engagement

Transparency often translates into better employee engagement. It’s a no-brainer - when an employee feels they have a better finger on their company’s pulse, they are likely to be more engaged and produce better work, regardless of their job title. In the manufacturing space, this can have very tangible flow-on results with a reduction in work-related fatalities, injuries, illnesses and plant downtime. Konnective not only allows seamless company broadcast messaging but multiple ways to collect feedback, in real time. By creating a continuous feedback loop, you also allow all employees to feel heard outside of in-person meetings. 

Manufacturing companies historically have low employee engagement rates. Research indicates engaged employees have productivity rates that are 70 percent higher than those of non-engaged workers and a 78 percent higher safety record. Beyond managing your team during this current pandemic, manufacturing companies have much to gain by improving how they communicate with their team on a regular basis. 

3. Flexibility

Many companies cannot afford a significant disruption to their supply chain and remote work is not (yet) a possibility on the factory floor. Melbourne’s postcode lockdown and ensuing metropolitan Melbourne wide reversal to phase three restrictions all happened abruptly. As a manufacturing business, this may mean a need to fill vacant shifts at late notice, or worst case, to shut down operations.

Konnective makes this process simpler and quicker by allowing managers to send out a single message to everyone in that specific workforce, rather than contact people individually. Staff can either call in or respond directly via the app if they’re available for vacant shifts. This alleviates the stress on both your managers and firstline workers, if unexpected circumstances arise.

4. Changes in OHS Policy

With Covid-19 also came a raft of new guidelines around workplace health and safety (OHS) during Covid-19. Properly cascading and enforcing these at a site level, especially where the manufacturing process involves consumables like food, needs to be the focus of factories at the moment. 

Konnective allows you to deliver the right message to the right people, by breaking communications up into targeted groups. This can mean differing the content you share between your various production facilities. Staff then aren’t overwhelmed by updates and can properly engage with localised business critical information. Reinforcement can also be achieved through short polls through our app, rather than convoluted online training modules.

5. Leading with Empathy

People remain the backbone for ensuring our factories run smoothly. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused disruption not just to businesses but to peoples’ personal lives and your staff’s mental health may have been affected over the last few months, to varying degrees. While it seems counterintuitive, we believe increasing your cadence of communication now will help your teams in the long run. People are increasingly expecting instant responses in their online interactions, why should their work expectations be any different? 

At Konnective we believe empathetic and timely communication is key to building and maintaining organisational trust. Our app allows you to connect with your workforce on a more human level, with features such as rich content, personalised messages and analytics to measure real engagement. 

Conclusion

Managing a distributed workforce is challenging at the best of times and Covid-19 has only emphasised this. Now more than ever leaders need to be leaning into their teams through effective communication. If you’re concerned about what the near future looks like for your production facilities - lets chat.