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Employee experience matters: safety practices in manufacturing
//12-01-2024

Employee experience matters: safety practices in manufacturing

With 36% of manufacturing vacancies hard-to-fill and 64% of manufacturers wanting to expand their frontline workforces, finding, attracting and retaining staff is a top priority for leaders in the sector. Therefore, it is essential that manufacturing firms prioritise employee experience, or EX, applying the same continuous improvement mindset with which they approach the supply chain to the employee journey. 

Manufacturers, however, cannot jump straight to benefits schemes and eye-catching employer branding projects. The sector is one of the top three most dangerous industries to work for in the UK, and yet many workers do not feel that health and safety is being made a priority. As new robotics and automation technologies are introduced, it is vital that progress does not come at the expense of protecting your people. EX is a non-starter if your staff do not feel their safety comes first.  

Above and beyond  

When considering safety from the perspective of EX, simply meeting baseline regulations will no longer be enough. Transform safety from a tick box exercise to your business’ competitive advantage by implementing cutting-edge practices and going the extra mile. This might look like spending on the newest protective gear or offering equipment checks more often than required. Investment will pay off in the long run by improving employee satisfaction and engagement, and attracting talent. 

Safety as the beating heart of business  

Put safety training at the centre of your organisation by making its execution a collaborative and ongoing process. A manufacturing firm’s workers are a rich source of intelligence when it comes to developing guidance about equipment and operations; ensure to consult them at an early stage. With gamification and digital training platforms gaining in popularity, take advantage of the newest technology to offer safety instruction across multiple formats - from videos directly to workers’ mobiles to physical print outs - and regularly ask for feedback to refine your methodology. It is important that training is not only offered, but that staff are given the requisite time and support to undertake it, rather than having to fit it into an overloaded working schedule.  

Safer together  

Collaboration can also extend beyond your own company. Smart leaders will make use of the wealth of resources available, facilitating and encouraging staff to attend external training events, knowledge share with peers and take part in safety courses. Organisations like West Yorkshire Manufacturing Services, who partnered with Make UK to deliver state-of-the-art training to the North of England, are making it easier to upskill in safety best practice. Businesses can look to trade bodies, from the more general to their specific niche groups, to hold themselves accountable and measure their practice against industry benchmarks.    

Strategy over spontaneity 

Changes should form the basis of coordinated safety campaigns, rather than being made ad hoc. This joins the dots between initiatives and employee experience, ensuring your people are aware that the business has made their safety a main priority in a real and lasting way. Take Wipak UK, the innovative packaging supplier, which has undertaken a dedicated health and safety improvement scheme resulting in an 80% reduction of safety incidents. Their strategy operated over two years and combined internal training with collaboration with external bodies like the Mid Wales Manufacturing Group, demonstrating how real improvements in safety take time and teamwork.  

Manufacturers can guide strategy with a goal of recognition, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Health and Safety Awards or the endorsements offered by the UK Accreditation Service. Employees must see that there is prolonged investment and time spent on safety, demonstrating commitment to employee wellbeing is more than lip service.  

By building a solid groundwork of best practice in safety and embedding this into company culture, manufacturers show their employees that they care. Not only is this the moral thing to do, but it improves a leader’s relationship with their team and boosts a business’s industry status. As the manufacturing skills crisis continues, overdelivering on safety is a way to both value your people and stand out from the crowd. 

Blog Manufacturing, logistics and wholesale
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