Everyone would likely agree that it’s hard to keep a brave face on things when the going gets tough. However, those times are when your employees need strong and motivated leadership to lean on, more than ever before. It’s also a good opportunity for your organisation to strengthen their loyalty in the long-term and to build a closer bond with your workforce.
Manufacturing is, evidently, going through a rough patch. The European sector contracted for the third time in April, with Germany leading the downturn. The industry has barely recovered from a six-year low in March and is expected to grow by just 0.7 per cent in 2019 overall. The lingering threat of Brexit also overshadows the sector.
Manufacturing leaders must step up and keep their workforce motivated and feeling secure. Fear and anxiety are bound to impact some workers who worry about losing their jobs. Luckily, there are ways for leaders to allay those fears.
Ensure that they know your organisation has a plan for navigating such downturns in business and that the sector will ride it out This is key to keeping their productivity and focus high. Giving employees a sense of focus and responsibility will direct their efforts during an economic slump. Communicate your business’ goals and objectives and make your employees part of the process. Align team goals to the company mission to keep everyone on the same page and heading in the right direction.
Often, rumours will spread throughout the workplace and leadership should do as much as possible to quell them. Communicating about the safety of jobs, steps taken by the company to navigate the slump and the importance of each employee will instil confidence.
Keep your employees updated on their performance and continue to reward good work. This doesn’t have to be monetary, which can be tricky during a downturn. Instead, offer time off or a unique experience. Simply recognising good work and showing appreciation can go a long way. Employees who don’t feel recognised for their hard work are twice as likely to quit within the next year. Given that the sector is already suffering a skills shortage, losing talent isn’t something any organisation can afford right now.
Expensive training sessions and conferences might be out of budget, but that doesn’t mean employee training should stop. Especially since workers need to be prepared for Industry 4.0 and the new skills that it’ll require. Find imaginative ways to train people on a budget. That might involve stretch assignments in another part of the organisation or sending one person on a course who can then train their colleagues. Informal lunch-and-learns are another option. Or look at online courses that tend to be cheaper than sending someone off-site.
In uncertain times, the atmosphere in the workplace can be dour. Giving your team a break from the doom and gloom will help to boost their confidence and motivation. An away day might be pricey, but you can always encourage people to do a volunteering day for the local community. This’ll bond teams together as well as provide a much-needed change of scene. Plus, employees will get the feel-good factor associated with charity giving.
An economic downturn is hard on everyone. Depending on your approach, it can significantly dent your employee relationship, or it can strengthen it. By doing the steps outlined above, you’ll ensure that your organisation experiences the latter. Eventually, the sector will recover. But your employees’ memories of such a time (and your company’s response to it) will continue on. Make sure they are good ones.
Need some help with your next hire in your manufacturing or engineering company? Contact Theo James Recruitment for specialist recruiters in your industry.