Engaged employees are always the most invested, which generally results in improved performance—but it can be difficult to keep operators engaged. When employees feel engaged, they are more likely to be loyal to a company and to produce high quality work. They will look to improve the organization by taking ownership of and accountability for their tasks and equipment.
But when it comes to operators, there are a number of factors that can hinder engagement. When this happens, operator efficiency suffers. Operators are frequently overworked, bored, and isolated. They may feel unchallenged and as though they aren't connected to the company culture. They may not feel appreciated, which could mean not feeling connected to their equipment and processes. Eventually, they could "check out" altogether.
How can you improve operator engagement at your plant and boost operator efficiency? Here's what you need to know.
1. Launch an Operator Care Program (or Improve Upon an Existing One)
Through an Operator Care program, your organization can swiftly set up the processes and tools it needs to engage operators with increased reliability and efficiency. Inspection forms, problem tags, visual controls, audits—these are all included within a comprehensive Operator Care program. Operator Care programs - also known as Routine Equipment Care, Operator Asset Care, Autonomous Maintenance, and Operator Driven Reliability - have the ultimate intent of ensuring that operators remain engaged and equipment is taken care of, but they also have the secondary goal of ensuring that the company's own ROI is supported.
Under an Operator Care program, operators are encouraged to take additional ownership for their equipment. They will feel as though they have more power within the organization's structure, and like they're being listened to. They are able to impact performance within their area by increasing availability and uptime, and they feel valued by the organization.
Utilizing consistent processes and available tools allows operators to identify abnormalities earlier, and they are able to work towards more stable systems and solutions. Altogether, this creates a meaningful way that operators are able to assess the organization's reliability, and that operators can drive towards common goals of increased throughput and decreased equipment delays.
Need help getting started? Allied offers consulting services that will help you develop and enact an Operator Care program that helps each employee feel valuable.
2. Invest in Additional Training
Training is beneficial in a number of ways. First, it shows operators that you care, not only about them but also their future at the company and their future job opportunities. Further, they will be able to apply their education and improve upon their roles. And additional training can help improve upon operator safety as well as adherence to processes.
Training is always a win for employees and employers, and it's an investment in the employee-employer relationship. Many companies have sporadic training when new systems are released, but it's better to have annual (or even semi-annual) refresher courses as well. Consider other technologies that you may be adopting in the future; these, too, could be worthwhile to investigate.
3. Improve Upon Internal Communication
You can help any employee feel valued by increasing transparency. Keep employees on board with the company's goals and make sure you have an open door for their feedback and concerns. The more feedback you get, the more you'll understand the current temperature of the employees; you'll understand what they're thinking and what their major pain points are.
Ask questions and get answers; often, operators know best what they need to get their job done. They're on the ground and can tell what is affecting their operator efficiency. Meet with operators at intervals, and be open about areas in which you feel they can improve. They may need additional resources to be able to meet your standards.
4. Build a Company Culture of Ownership and Value
Go beyond just "mission and vision." Most operators don’t care much about that on the global level. Think about tangible things such as pay, benefits, and vacation time. Your company culture can't just be about the company's mission statement. It also has to be about making sure that those within the company feel as though they are valued.
Employees should feel as though they have a reason to come in every morning. While the company's mission does have some influence, employees also need to know how the mission impacts them. What's expected of them? What are the standards and values they're supposed to reflect? And how does it benefit their own career?
Increased operator engagement can improve all levels of your organization. By improving operator efficiency and productivity, and improving your company culture, you can ultimately affect your plant's consistency, safety, and ROI. If you want to learn more about improving operator engagement at your plant, check out the various consulting and training opportunities offered by Allied. From comprehensive training courses to guidance on launching (or improving) your Operator Care program, we have resources to help improve your operator engagement.