Using Active Listening to Transform Manufacturing Workplace Environments

In the face of market disruptions and other uncontrollable elements, manufacturing leaders must focus on what is within their reach. Building robust relationships with frontline workers emerges as the most effective way to navigate storms together. This can be accomplished through a commitment to continual active listening. By doing this, leaders stay closely connected with their workers’ experiences, ideas, and concerns.


Using Active Listening to Transform Manufacturing Workplace Environments

Staying in touch with the workforce is essential to retention

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Manufacturing workers face many workplace difficulties because of working in field and production settings, and they often feel that they don’t have ample opportunities to provide meaningful feedback on improving their workplace. With just 50% of essential frontline workers feeling they have any influence on workplace decision-making, common challenges such as safety issues, lack of career advancement opportunities, and work-life balance, not addressing these struggles can ultimately harm the organization’s bottom line.

Lack of opportunities
Successful retention efforts within the manufacturing industry focus on actively involving employees and communicating with them about how their individual contributions help shape company success. But one of the most important retention factors is providing career development opportunities, with 77% of manufacturing workers citing it as a major influence in staying with an organization.

Neglecting safety concerns
A report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that manufacturing employees suffer more work-related injuries than in any other industry, with common causes including overexertion, slips and trips, machinery-guarding accidents, and exposure to noise, harmful substances, and electricity. In 2021 alone there were 4,472 preventable injury-related deaths in the U.S. manufacturing industry, while there were an additional 381,100 nonfatal injuries suffered by frontline manufacturing workers.

Ignoring worker voices negatively affects employee productivity, company reputation, and most important, customer experience, satisfaction, and retention. Active listening within the workplace fosters a culture that encourages growth, respect, and job satisfaction. Establishing communication channels that amplify individual voices within the manufacturing workforce allows organizations to gather real-time insights essential to solving workplace issues within short-term, day-to-day operations, and shaping the company culture.


Published: Tuesday, August 8, 2023 – 12:03

Roadblocks can result from leadership teams not listening to their frontline employees. Proactively listening to employee thoughts, ideas, and concerns allows manufacturing organizations to greatly improve their operational efficiency and avoid being forced to retroactively respond to issues. Reactive approaches relating to cost-cutting, safety issues, and broader feelings of undervaluation further fuel long-term decreased worker morale and feelings of undervaluation.