How to motivate production workers?

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    Ensuring that your manufacturers are motivated and engaged is one of the most important tasks for you as the facility owner. With highly-motivated workers, you could increase the number of goods produced (and their quality), minimize downtime and also make the atmosphere at work much better. And with a good atmosphere at work, employees are less likely to feel burnt out and quit – so you don’t have to search for new hires so often.  

    What exactly should you do to motivate your staff the right way? Here are our tips.

    Motivate production workers by addressing their needs 

    This might sound like something obvious – if you make sure that your employees’ work needs are met, then they will be more engaged and productive at work. But what exactly might your workers require in order to be happy at work? Let’s look at a few elements that can impact how motivated (or dissatisfied) your employees might be.

    Work safety

    Having a stable and secure work environment is one of the most important needs for any employee – manufacturing workers as well. And we are not only talking here about monitoring and maintaining the machines to make sure they are in top condition.   

    For employees, work safety also means:  

    • Stable employment
    • Clear goals and expectations
    • Having time off work to recharge 
    • Set policies and procedures to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
    • Positive work environment

    If any of these are missing, then there’s a higher chance that employees will become demotivated and burned out – and that might directly affect your production. In fact, the manufacturing industry is said to have the second highest burnout rate (77%), right after the Hospitality industry (with 80%). Why? Long work hours with frequent overtime, vague goals and pressure to meet the norms and demands – for the manufacturing industry, that’s nothing new. 

    But one more thing that very often affects manufacturers’ motivation is…  

    Financial situation

    No matter what industry, all employees want a good long-term employment contract with a decent monthly salary and benefits. If they see that they spend so much time at work, but their salary stays low and there’s “never a good time for a raise”, then obviously they will get disgruntled.    

    What we need to point out is that not for all employees the financial side will be as important. The importance of salary is closely connected with the level of income. 

    The higher the income, the less dominant financial motivation is. Once a certain level of income is achieved, other needs become more relevant such as social needs, self-esteem, and self-accomplishment. 

    Using such motivators will pay off, as staff retention will decrease and employees start to recognize company goals as their own. And surely, a good manager knows how to incorporate different motivational tools, add incentives, team-building, and involve employees in the business to achieve a strong motivation to work harder.

    What exactly are those higher needs?

    The first one involves the desire to feel good about ourselves and feel valued by others; that is, feeling that other people have recognized our achievements and contributions. The second refers to feeling fulfilled or that we are living up to our potential. Work in the manufacturing company involves, at least partially, cooperation with others and social interactions. The need to belong and be part of a group is very important. Interactions between employees have been shown to improve performance in the workplace. That’s why team building is so important. 

    Social needs can be met by communicative managers, an attractive break room, and occasional employee outings like family picnics. Self-esteem can come from recognition in employee-of-the-month clubs and awards. Foster self-fulfillment by promoting worthy employees. Employees produce more when managers express appreciation and recognition of employees as individuals and when employees work near each other.  

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    Motivate production workers with the aid of manufacturing software 

    The majority of manufacturing companies want to develop, so sooner or later, they will face a decision to introduce some technological improvements in the form of production management software. These changes inside the company can affect staff motivation and alter how their basic needs are fulfilled. Many years of consulting experience show that those changes can be smooth and beneficial when the implementation process is cleverly guided.

    motivate production workers effectively

    Manufacturing software implementation and workers’ needs

    Manufacturing software implementation and workers’ needs

    The basic need for safety is very often in danger once the decision to implement new software is made. Both managers and workers are afraid of the situation in the future.  What are employers and small company owners especially afraid off?

    Staff protests

    Implementation decisions are usually made at the top level, and workers have very little to say, hence they might feel that new software is “forced” on them. The new manufacturing software might also be difficult to use, and older workers won’t be able to learn how to use it – so there will be little point in even having the system in the first place. 

    Key employees will quit

    A very common reason why owners often intentionally slow down the implementation process in their manufacturing company. They fear people will leave the company when they start to monitor productivity, check production norms, and ask workers to register their presence at work. Many production employees regard norms as a way of control, which leads to an archaic “slavery” system, where each minute at the production hall has to be accounted for. 

    Their fears are often unfounded because working time and various programs such as “Employee of the Month” are useful. They combine public praise with financial recognition and harness people’s competitive nature. When it comes to the annual assessment, clear results can be helpful as they make it easier to decide who deserves a bonus or incentive. 

    Why the new system implementation might impact employees’ morale?

    From the company’s point of view, the most beneficial is a situation when experienced and knowledgeable workers stay in the manufacturing company as long as it is possible. This is how to reduce the costs of training new workers, mistakes made by inexperienced staff, or delays resulting from vacancies and lack of staff. That’s why manufacturing companies try to attract new workers and make them stay for a long while developing and introducing new technological solutions while still keeping workers motivated. 

    What makes the situation tricky though is that a complicated system or implementation mistakes can quickly turn the staff against the new solution – and the company itself.

    They feel the owner doesn’t trust them

    The majority of people want to show that they do a great job. When they are committed to something, they wish to prove themselves and do their best; the company owner’s approach to monitoring is very important: either he can present production control as a calculation exercise or pester them about a proverbial 2 seconds delay or minute norm disproportion. It is clear that in the latter case, the effect will be opposite to what is desired. 

    They feel that the work monitoring system is disrespectful to them

    Everybody wants to be respected at work, not just treated as a slave or used. It is connected with the fulfillment of basic needs (I do a great job, so I won’t be fired, I am safe), and higher social needs (I am a part of a greater unit, my job makes sense, I take pride in my job, my boss sees my efforts, they trust me, I get a bonus, I am a specialist in my field). When we simplify things – in a random group consisting of 10 workers, there will always be 1 person who complains and is never motivated, 1 person who is a workaholic (no matter how much they get paid or how they are treated). This leaves 8 more people who just want to get on with their tasks.

    How could the right implementation boost employee morale?

    Production management software can also be a great tool to motivate a team in the social dimension. On top of training, constant learning (for example, becoming certified in project management), teamwork, cooperation, or performance analyses (the need for recognition), we can add solving difficult situations and minimizing conflicts. When everything is clear and easy to understand, like in Prodio software, there aren’t any fights about responsibilities. 

    Practical example

    When somebody comes to work in the morning, they can check which tasks they were assigned and which ones are due first and start working following the priority of things in the queue. From this perspective, the software offers more order and transparency. In case of a mistake, it is easy to check why it happened: was it a faulty machine, an incorrect procedure, or a human error? 

    It helps to promote a culture focused on solving problems, not blaming others, where each worker knows how the company works. Job description and the list of responsibilities are very important; many company owners think that thanks to a new production system, employees will double the number of daily tasks. And that’s the reason why implementations can go wrong.

    Changes in the organization can be used to motivate employees positively. There are multiple examples and case studies that prove Prodio’s implementation had a great impact on staff morale. Their common factor is: when you implement production planning software, make it AS EASY AS POSSIBLE. Don’t make a revolution, but rather step by step, make minute changes to make life easier for everybody so people would get used to the idea of a news organization.  

    Motivate production workers and implement manufacturing software successfully  

    First and foremost: keep it simple 

    The implementation itself is going to be a milestone if you had tons of papers at your production hall, and now all data is in one system. You don’t have to add everything to your new software. Remember: do no harm and try to find a balance between old habits and new ways of organizing your production hall.

    Don’t try to do everything at once

    If you attempt to analyze all data available, you might feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and disappointed because you won’t get more free time; only the number of tables will double. This is not the right way: focus on your goal, and don’t be tempted to get involved in complicated accounting analyses. When we look at the majority of ERP systems implementation, many people, including the staff in the office, don’t speak highly about such programs. The amount of data required to enter at the beginning, lack of flexibility, sophisticated analyses, etc., seem to be off-putting for the small manufacturing company. 

    When you make a decision about the implementation of a new production planning software, stick to it and be consequent; regularity and repetitiveness are the key features of the system. If you skip things or fail to enter the program, it means that the system is wrong. 

    Motivate production workers using the Deming cycle

    Using the Deming cycle might also be a good way to motivate production workers.

    William Edwards Deming is considered a quality management pioneer because he was one of the first people who in the 1950s, suggested a modern approach to the quality of products. He claimed that managers are to be blamed for 94% of all quality problems due to a lack of suitable standards and a poor style of management. This approach is typical for ISO 9001 but also works in production software management. 

    How could the method help to boost workers’ motivation?

    When workers have clear information about how to work, when the order is due, etc., it is possible to avoid costly mistakes and stress. The communication is smooth, as well as the workflow. That leads to a lower number of mistakes, improved quality, and stop wastefulness and the number of complaints. 

    A production management system helps to fulfill social needs 

    It is possible to influence motivation using a production management system by fulfillment of social needs (being part of the group is one of them)

    A good example of such a situation is when the boss initiates the learning process by introducing new software, investing in training video production, varying tasks, etc. Differentiation makes workers maintain a higher level of productivity than the monotony of repetition. It results in fewer complaints and employees focusing on finding ways to achieve goals. 

    This allows for fresh ideas in processes and procedures but also provides a chance for management to show workers that they value the input of production workers. It is a pleasure to work in an environment where there is a clear schedule of work and the boss motivates instead of changing their mind every two minutes about orders, tasks, and priorities. The unnecessary stress is limited.

    How a knowledge base can motivate employees

    With a knowledge base, the knowledge and company know-how isn’t in the heads of key employees but in the system. Thanks to that, even new workers can perform their tasks without repeating the same mistakes. The fear of being fired is unfounded because the risk of making a mistake is minimized. 

    Do you want to see Prodio in action? Then, how about scheduling a demo meeting or trying out the 14-day free trial? If you have any questions or doubts answered, you can always reach out to our support team – they will be happy to help.


    Motivating your workers to give their best isn’t an easy task – especially when different groups of people are motivated by different things. But it’s essential for a productive, efficient, and satisfied team who is ready to tackle any challenges.  

    Well-implemented manufacturing software can also positively motivate production workers simply by making their day-to-day life easier. It’s good for production. It’s good for the employees. And it’s good for morale. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions about How to Motivate Manufacturing Workers:

    Why is motivating production workers important? 

    Motivating production workers is essential because it helps enhance their productivity, job satisfaction, and overall performance. By creating a positive work environment, you can boost morale, reduce turnover, and improve the quality of output.

    What are some effective ways to motivate production workers?

    There are several effective methods to motivate production workers, such as providing regular recognition and rewards, offering opportunities for skill development and growth, fostering open communication, promoting teamwork, and ensuring fair compensation.

    How can I recognize and reward production workers?

    Recognition and rewards can be given through various means, including verbal praise, certificates of achievement, employee appreciation events, performance-based bonuses, flexible work schedules, or additional time off. Tailor the rewards to match the preferences and needs of your production workers.

    How important is open communication in motivating production workers?

     A: Open communication promotes transparency, trust, and engagement. Regularly provide feedback, listen to their suggestions and concerns, and involve them in decision-making processes. This fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment.

    How can teamwork contribute to motivating production workers?

     Promoting teamwork among production workers fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie, leading to increased motivation. Encourage collaboration, create opportunities for team-building activities, and establish a supportive work culture that values cooperation and mutual respect.

    How can I address demotivation or burnout among production workers?

    Addressing demotivation and burnout requires proactive measures. Create a supportive work environment that values work-life balance, provide opportunities for rest and rejuvenation, encourage breaks, and implement stress management initiatives. Show empathy and offer resources for support.

    Ready to Streamline Your Shop Floor?

    Online manufacturing software that puts you in control.

    Get started today

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