Manufacturers can increase productivity and employee happiness by giving them more decision-making agency for their day-to-day operations.

Though a manufacturing labor crisis has been on the horizon for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent mass employment shift greatly accelerated the effects. The exodus of the Baby Boomer generation from manufacturing jobs, combined with the abundance of jobs available to subsequent generations given the rise of the gig economy, has led us to the current labor crisis, leaving plant managers and leaders scrambling to find the best answers to rectify these issues.

Using Redzone Shows Results, Industry Today
Using Redzone shows results: manufacturing plants saw a 74% increase in engagement, autonomous problem solving and cross-team collaboration.

The Problem

We believe increased productivity can be an antidote to pressing issues like inflation and supply chain disruptions. It stands to reason – if a team can be more productive on the factory floor, more product is making its way out of the plant and onto our shelves. The question then becomes how to drive an increase in productivity from your frontline workers.

This starts with recognizing that far from simply being a cog in the machine – the frontline teams represent the greatest source of potential for improved productivity. In order to tap into this opportunity we must get the teams aligned around the same goals, provide timely and contextual information to them and give a structure to enable them to communicate up and down left and right within the organization.  

This is precisely why Redzone was founded. Our mission has always been to transform manufacturing by unlocking the everyday productivity potential of every frontline worker, making them active contributors to and beneficiaries of their company’s success. To measure the impact of our Connected Workforce Solution, we initiated our first ever Frontline Workforce Engagement Study that identifies the factors that reflect authentic and meaningful changes for frontline engagement. What we found reinforces the business benefits of treating frontline employees with dignity, giving them purpose, recognition and the opportunity for career growth.

Our Connected Workforce Solution is deployed to our customers along with a Redzone coach that gets teams up to speed and trained and activates the new frontline workflows in a structured approach. The plant is outfitted with big screen TVs to increase communication and visibility across the factory floor, and employees are given iPads with our software installed. Through this platform, workers can share photos, communicate directly with other teams, and flag issues with management for quick response. Managers have data at their fingertips that points to how lines are performing and are able to pinpoint slowdowns or jams in real time. With this better picture of how the floor is operating, managers can give public praise to high-performing workers which encourages everyone to work at their best level.

Our Results

After completing Redzone’s 90-day onboarding process, plants reported an overall 74% increase across five engagement factors:

  • Ownership of performance (+112%): Frontline workers strongly desire empowerment to own the results of their production line, including understanding what “winning” means for their company, focusing on improving processes, and hearing real-time feedback.
  • Autonomous problem solving (+50%): A significantly larger portion of workers are becoming involved in both simple and complex problem solving rather than waiting for management requests for corrective actions.
  • Connection to others (+71%): Plants with a digital connected workforce solution experience constant internal communications about plans, problems and priorities regardless of their title as physical, language and organizational barriers are eliminated.
  • Cross-team collaboration (+81%): Workers now have the data, time or skills to connect with other teams on the floor to increase communication and problem solve together.
  • Feeling competent and recognized (+73%): Employees feel better supported by their companies. Their skills are noticed by both peers and leadership, leading to regular recognition, mastering new skills and well-deserved promotions.

The business impact of this increased engagement? Reduced employee turnover and increased team productivity.

Best Practices

How do you create meaningful and lasting change that will positively impact your workers?

  1. Create an environment where the frontline teams have ownership over their own performance.
  2. Arm your teams with the technology, new skills and techniques and empower them to solve their own problems independently.
  3. Connect your workforce, give them a voice and ability to tap into the informal networks that exist in your plants.
  4. Tear down the silos, get your teams rowing in the same direction and solving problems together.
  5. Celebrate as records are broken, recognize your pace setters and build confidence.

What frontline manufacturing employees are looking for is no different than any other industries: they want to have dignity in their work, recognition for a job well done, opportunity for growth and, most importantly, the desire to work toward a higher purpose. A more productive workforce churns out more end product, which means fewer supply chain interruptions and, ultimately, more products on shelves and less inflation impacting all of us.

Richard Tester Redzone, Industry Today
Richard Tester

About the Author:
As a founding member of Redzone Production Systems, Richard Tester serves as CEO and is responsible for the continued growth of the Redzone Community, the Redzone teams and the company culture that enables the remarkable productivity results that Redzone is known for.

His nearly 20 years of experience in this industry have seen Richard through 1,000+ CPG manufacturing facilities in North America and Europe, partnering with owners and executives in some of the world’s foremost manufacturers on this opportunity.

Prior to Redzone, in 2004, Richard relocated from the UK to Miami, FL to launch MVI Technology in the North American market. Leading a successful period of growth and expansion in the market for MVI, Richard was part of the leadership team that sold MVI to CDC Software (NASDAQ). Following a number of years integrating MVI into CDC Software, Richard returned to his entrepreneurial roots, joining Mark Sutcliffe to launch the Redzone business. Richard holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from the University of Birmingham, UK and is the proud father of three young children.

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