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Cross-Training and Employee Engagement in Manufacturing

December 10, 2016

In manufacturing, keeping employees engaged and motivated at work is of critical importance to overall productivity. The task has proven to be a sizable challenge for many American companies.

At IRD Glass, our employees are cross trained, specialized and ready to achieve amazing things with glass and ceramics. Our customers demand it. In the world of precision optical components and ultrahard ceramic components, customization is worth its weight in gold. Our cell-based approach to manufacturing is based on small groups of extensively cross trained engineers that dedicate themselves exclusively to a customer’s project.

But according to a Gallup survey conducted from 2010 to 2012, just 30% of American workers “were engaged in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.” When less than one in three workers are properly engaged, there is great opportunity for American manufacturers to regain lost productivity. But what are the best methods of motivating employees?

Cross-Training and Engagement in Manufacturing

One major obstacle to employee engagement, especially in the manufacturing industry, is the monotony of completing one task over and over. Despite how “fun” a job is initially, over time it will become routine, and once it is routine, dull and repetitive is just around the corner.

One way to prevent tasks from becoming tedious is by cross-training employees to complete multiple roles and duties. Developing the skill-sets of employees across job functions helps a company make the most of their labor. If one group finishes a task, they can use the extra time to assist another group with a different task, leveraging the skills and talents of productive, engaged employees.

Cross-Training vs Hiring Temps

Many companies operate under the assumption that hiring cheap labor, in the form of temporary workers, during crunch times is more cost-effective than having better-paid full time employees who have the ability to handle multiple tasks.

There are a few key issues with this assumption. First, there is onboarding time associated with temp workers who are not yet familiar with equipment, processes, and other employees. Time needed to adapt and reach maximum productivity can vary greatly.

Second, temps do not have the level of long-term commitment to the success of the company. One way to mitigate this issue is by offering outstanding temp workers a full-time position.

Third, employees who are new to a certain work environment are much more likely to suffer a workplace accident, having less knowledge of the jobsite and equipment processes.

Fourth, while the cost of temp labor is generally lower than hiring and cross-training, the cost of lost productivity due to on-the-job training and a lack of commitment and engagement can end up costing more in the long run.

Cross-Training Implementation

Once you decide to establish a cross-training program, there are several steps to help ensure success.

First, identify key skills. Which skills are required so employees can accomplish the various tasks necessary to complete production goals? Next, incentivize acquisition of the key skills. Provide information to employees signaling which skills are in highest demand and the levels of additional compensation. Finally, utilize every training tool. There are many different options to handle employee training, including in-house, outside vendors, graduate schools and community colleges.

Business success in manufacturing depends on having driven, dedicated employees who maximize productivity, and cross-training can help you meet your goals.

IRD Glass Manufacturing: Learn More

IRD Glass has done things that virtually no one else has with glass and ceramics. For 33 years we have been sought out by corporation and engineers from around the world for precision glass, ceramic and optical components.
To learn more about IRD Glass and our cell-based approach to manufacturing, visit our homepage today!