According to a Gallup survey, 70% of U.S. workers are actively disengaged in their work and are not reaching their full potential. Gallup estimates that active disengagement costs the U.S $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity.
Recently, the Tri-State Manufacturers Alliance hosted an event to discuss employee engagement with four of the region’s successful employers discussing how they work to better engage their employees. The presenters were Norm Bafunno, Toyota; Zach Bawel, Jasper Engines; Brandon Willis, Uniseal; and Matthew Nix, Nix Companies. These employers range in size from 33 to over 5,000. There were numerous activities taken by each company that met their specific culture.
For employee recognition, Matthew Nix stated that his team has a weekly safety meeting for all employees and the managers praise those who had an accomplishment the prior week. The management team at Uniseal sends handwritten notes of congratulation to the employee’s home so the family can see what has been accomplished.
Each company President discussed the importance of communicating with employees. Brandon Willis stated, “We communicate daily with our employees and email is the last resort. Face first and phone second. This allows the team to get to know the leader.” Norm Bafunno commented, “The leaders meet with small groups without an agenda. This allows employees to raise issues directly with leaders. Then we have to tackle issues head on, quickly and face-to-face.” Matthew Nix added, “Communication must be intentional. We have to be able to discuss issues openly and quickly.”
Jasper Engines has a specific process for engaging new associates. Their Buds program assigns each new associate to a buddy who is not their supervisor. They meet daily for the first two weeks and then weekly the following two weeks. The Buds discuss family life, learn about continuous improvement as well as learn the Jasper Culture. “As a result of our continuous improvement program, over 17,000 ideas have been put forth with over 85% implemented in some fashion,” Zach Bawel stated.
There were numerous other ideas such as having fun outside work, gonging the bell for new sales, using cross functional teams to break down departmental barriers and so much more.
As Zach Bawel closed, “Don’t shoot for perfect ideas. Do something. If the first program doesn’t work, keep on trying.” If, as an entrepreneur you want to have a productive, fun place to work, improve the engagement of your employees.
I am a contributing writer to the Evansville Business Journal. This article was recently published.