Strategies for Elevating the Manufacturing Employee Experience: Part 1


My daughters recently celebrated birthdays, turning 14 and 12-years old (insert shock/surprise emoji here).    

Now that she’s legally allowed to work, my oldest applied for her first job at the local supermarket and I find myself getting anxious about her potential experience as a first-time employee. Questions are filling my mind: what will her schedule be like? will she be treated fairly and /respectfully? what are the labor laws for a 14-year old? will she have a caring/kind boss? what will her hourly wage be? how will they track her time to ensure she’s paid correctly? 

As I think about my daughter’s employee experience, I reflect on the unique insight I have into the hourly employee experience at leading manufacturing organizations through my work as a Customer Success Manager at UKG.  During the challenges of the past year, I saw some amazing responses by my customers in how they managed and addressed their employees’ needs and concerns while balancing the shifting demands of the business. Despite massive disruption, driving operational excellence was fueled with the recognition that the secret sauce in manufacturing is not the machines, robots, or materials, but its people. 

In fact, studies have shown that when companies focus on improving the employee experience for hourly team members, it improves employee engagement, and ultimately drives better results, such as these sited by Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report¹: 

  • 59% lower turnover 
  • 70% fewer safety incidents 
  • 40% fewer quality incidents 
  • 17% higher productivity 
  • 21% higher profitability 

The team member experience fuels operational excellence 

So, where to start? Just as operational excellence is not a one-time event, neither is transforming the hourly team member experience. It's a continuous process that can be enabled by adopting people-centric policies and technology. There are four stages in the cycle which offer various opportunities for improving the employee experience: 


In this post, we’ll focus on strategies for Empower and Plan: 


Elevate the hourly team member experience by creating a workplace where people are empowered and feel valued as an employees and individuals. Areas of opportunity: 

  • Flexible work environment: Give your employees the ability to share schedule preferences, easily request time off, or sign up for OT via their mobile device. 
  • AI assisted self-service: Make it easy for employees to accommodate last-minute changes in their personal lives with mobile shift swaps with recommendations for who to swap with (based on qualifications, compliance with work rules and who is likely to accept).  
  • Personal insights: Provide employees with metrics about their individual performance (ex. productivity, efficiency, attendance metrics) so they understand how they contribute to company’s goals, making them feel valued and more engaged. 


Align employee schedules with production demand in a way that balances safety, compliance, and productivity with team member preferences. Areas of opportunity: 

  • Demand-driven scheduling: Intelligent scheduling systems factor in ERP production order data to create employee schedules that address business needs and accommodate employee shift preferences.    
  • Workforce optimization: Automatically assign and leverage available team members, identifying who has the qualifications and skills needed to work safely and productively. 
  • Compliancy: Meet production demands while addressing compliance requirements so employees feel safe and supported – scheduling automation factors in OT policies, required rest periods, limitations on hours worked, fatigue rules, etc. 

These are just a few ways that people-centric policies, processes, and technology can elevate the employee experience while maintaining a focus on operational excellence. I’ll share additional strategies for transforming the hourly team member experience in a subsequent blog post. 

Here is a great example of a people-centric approach being applied in the real world: 

Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation, is leveraging their UKG workforce management solution to drive the goal of becoming a workplace of choice. Their HR organization has created several people-centric programs such as flextime options, part time opportunities, an opportunity to purchase additional PTO and the ability to purchase additional hours to apply to a future Recharge Break (mini-sabbatical). The Recharge Break will allow purchase of hours (with company matching) to bank for minimum of 3 year to build up for a 6 - 12 week break starting in year four.  Using their system to track and control these policies, while empowering their employees with the time they need has been very well received. They experienced better than expected participation across all programs. Schneider Electric recognizes that Great People make Schneider Electric a Great Company. 


See how UKG Dimensions can help transform the employee experience to fuel operational excellence in manufacturing.


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