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How to Increase the Motivation of Factory Workers

As leaders of a team, managers have the essential responsibility of motivating employees. The management style you use can spell the success or failure of your company. What do we know?

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With the goal to increase the motivation of factory workers, your style should depend on the needs of your business, your employees, and your personality type. Different groups need different leadership styles — a Navy Seal Team will need a different style than a Whole Foods grocery store.

If you manage a factory, you need to learn how to motivate factory workers. You must understand they don’t come into work simply because they want to work for you. They have their own goals, ambition, and reasons for coming to work. Understanding these will unlock key insights into engagement

If you manage factory workers, you must understand they don’t come into work simply because they want to work for you. They have their own goals, ambitions, and reasons for coming to work.

When they are given extra reinforcement and are provided with the necessary training and resources, they become much more motivated to put in a good shift at the factory.

Here are 3 ways to increase the motivation of factory workers

1. Add meaning to their work

Every factory worker has different needs. We can use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to see this in action. Most employers just cover the basics, never trying to reach the higher levels most people need in their lives, both at work and at home.

During a company retreat, Chip Conley, head of hospitality at AirBnB, asked groups of housekeepers what would happen if someone from Mars landed on Earth and asked them, “What should we call you?” They came up with some pretty interesting names like, “The Serenity Sisters”, and “The Clutter Busters.”

In a study done surrounding hourly workers three core values arose; meaning, dignity, and self-determination.

Meaning: Every job has a meaning, is important, and necessary for work. The ditch-digger, the whopper-flopper, the toilet-cleaner. If nobody were to do these jobs, we’d have a problem.  
Dignity: Dignity comes with how an employee is treated at work. Abusive behavior of whatever form can drastically change productivity, health, and collaboration in a company.
Self-Determination: Self-determination describes a player’s freedom within some boundaries to chose what, when, and how a task is done. Having a sense of control and not feeling like a cogwheel in a large machine brings satisfaction.

2. Give factory workers more control over what they produce

Giving factory workers the ability to make their own decisions and see the benefits will greatly increase not only their ability to do their job well, but they will also be able to see their progress and growth.

Happiness is affected by employee’s sense of control over their lives.” – Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

In a study done on San Francisco garbage collectors, workers rated themselves very high on job happiness. This was in large part due to being able to choose their own routes, and the ability to decide how much time each route takes.

Giving workers some freedom within boundaries to determine how to complete a task gives them the ability and motivation to get the task done in the best way possible. Having meaningful conversations around the wants and needs of your employees will allow you to better understand what each of your factory workers want to produce.

3. Treat factory workers with dignity, regardless of role

In the book Life on the Line, the author Solange de Santis recounts the year and a half she spent working in a GM plant. She chronicled her experience, through the tough working conditions and disputes between workers and management.

Her biggest takeaway from the experience was how hard working, skilled and innovative the factory workers really were. The stereotypical view of factory workers as wage slaves was put aside.

De Santis showed that these workers make a real difference for the company’s bottom line when they are treated with respect, given room to be creative, and have open dialogues across the business.

For factory managers looking for some keys to remember when brainstorm ideas for motivation, remember that it has four factors that need to be met:

  • A challenging goal that is clearly understood
  • The ability to measure progress
  • To have control over achieving the goal
  • A reward system that is activated when goals are met

Simply paying workers more won’t give Employees, what they are looking for in their jobs. Creating meaning and motivation must go hand in hand to engage correctly.

Working with workers to develop clear intrinsic goals and acting as a model for them through open dialogue and engaging conversations will create a more motivating and fulfilling factory floor.

Learn how the latest manufacturing trends are influencing the employee experience. Download our free white paper, “Manufacturing Industry Trends for 2020” now!