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By: Ben Baldwin
March 30, 2022
Productivity monitoring often brings to mind overzealous managers who micromanage their employees. But did you know that with the right system, productivity monitoring actually empowers your workers?
Effectively monitoring employee productivity goes beyond tracking how much is produced within an hour. It tracks specific challenges, key successes, and allows operators to share their knowledge and observations.
People are the core of any process. Understanding workers’ needs is paramount to a healthy manufacturing operation. If we haven’t set up avenues to understand our successes and failures, then how can we intelligently move into the future? Productivity monitoring solves this issue.
Productivity monitoring enables manufacturers to gain key insight through the unique lens of their people. Manufacturers can use productivity monitoring to review their throughput and quality levels. Additionally, industry leaders are better able to help people that need it and celebrate individual success.
We can compare modern productivity monitoring to the current abilities of machine monitoring. Imagine you’re running a complex multi-machine process. With the current power of IoT and advanced Industry 4.0 software, you are able to monitor the efficiency of the process, how much is produced, and even predict maintenance based on production behaviors.
Similarly, we can do this with people on a production floor… but to a greater extent because people are just plain better than machines. They are more intelligent and more insightful.
By capturing your workers’ key actions and allowing operators to share their perspectives and experience, you gain an engaged and smarter workforce.
When someone says productivity monitoring, we may think of overbearing surveillance, oppression, and restriction. Employees are often wary of employee monitoring measures because they fear the repercussions. If they underperform or if there are issues, they will be labeled the problem. Or worse, they may lose their job.
But productivity monitoring is not about surveillance and it is certainly not about firing workers. In the current worker shortages felt by the entire world, companies need to enhance the abilities of their current workforce, not cut them off.
Productivity monitoring gives industry leaders an in-depth understanding of the needs of people and the operation as a whole. Only if these two criteria are met can manufacturers and others use this information to advance the capabilities of the workforce.
Productivity monitoring, if done right, will lead to an enhanced flow of information that benefits both the employee and the employer. But getting valuable production data can be tough. And without access to this data, you could be leaving valuable insight and optimization opportunities on the table. This leads to an inability to improve processes, spend capital wisely, or understand the needs of your workers.
With this in mind, let's explore 3 ways to use productivity monitoring to strengthen your operation and empower your workers.
When problems arise, productivity monitoring enables companies to perform two key actions.
If employees are struggling with a specific task, it may take a while before managers and supervisors naturally notice. And if employees don’t get the help they need, the production line will suffer along with employee morale.
The solution is to actively track your employees’ productivity. When productivity seems low, leaders can approach workers to resolve issues in several ways.
If the employee lacks sufficient experience, then provide further coaching opportunities through training.
If the operator is struggling with a certain job, change it up! Instead of forcing them to perform a job that is not suited to their skills, give them responsibilities that do suit their skills if possible.
Pro Tip: Track worker qualifications with the VKS Training page. Now you can see which employees are qualified for which tasks while assigning work orders..
Reviewing the performance of your employees also helps to identify errors in certain processes. If employees are having trouble with a task, perhaps the issue lies with the process itself. Productivity monitoring helps to bring inefficiencies to the surface that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Manufacturers can take this new insight and optimize their production intelligently.
If some operators are less productive due to unclear directions, create detailed digital work instructions that give operators visual and standardized knowledge of their tasks.
By being in tune with your employees, you can address issues and help employees when they most need it.
It would be a disservice to think that productivity monitoring is only about finding problems. It is also a key way to highlight successes and achievements.
Why is this useful? 2 reasons.
Everyone likes to know they are doing a good job. Think about the last time someone told you “job well done”. It feels good, doesn’t it? Now think of the implications of this when applied to a whole team of employees. Acknowledging success is a key contributor to boosting employee engagement and morale.
When management takes notice of the successes of their employees, the employees are more likely to keep the momentum going. A recent study showed that engaged employees are more productive, which can lead to an increase in profits by 21%.
Highlighting success also enables you to upgrade your processes with the best practices of your top performers. When noticing high levels of productivity, take a good look at what factors are at play.
Ask yourself these 3 questions:
With VKS, use the detailed reports and/or perform a Gemba walk to observe what is happening on the shop floor. Although there may be cases where productivity is boosted through cutting corners, more often than not, the information you learn will help enhance your operation.
Pro Tip: With work instruction software, standardize the best practices of your most experienced operators. This allows the whole workforce to benefit from their knowledge and expertise..
Did you know that employees can directly contribute to productivity monitoring? Yes, it’s true!
Productivity monitoring is about gaining valuable insight from your employees to make smarter decisions. There is little better than gathering direct feedback from your employees. Workers on the shop floor have valuable perspectives on their tasks and responsibilities. They are the ones performing the work every day. So if there are opportunities or problems, they are often the first to notice and have ideas for improvement.
With VKS, operators can easily open smart forms and make notes about a process or a quality issue. For severe issues, operators can use Andon processes that will immediately inform managers and supervisors that help is needed.
For example, imagine one of your workers is assembling the components for a transforming robot toy. While assembling the components, she realizes that there is a wait time for some of the adhesives to set. But if taking a modular approach to the assembly, the adhesives on the arms could dry and set while operators work on the legs and torso. This method would speed up the production of the transforming toy while increasing efficiency. She just needs an accessible medium to share her idea.
In her VKS guidebook, she opens a smart form on the corresponding “adhesive application” steps and places a note detailing how efficiency is not optimal for the process. This then goes to the supervisor and managers for review. Once it is reviewed, the guidebook is updated and shared with the rest of the workforce.
Productivity monitoring engages workers by getting them to actively participate in capturing valuable information. This provides a quick and easy source of insight that supercharges the continuous improvement efforts of your company.
Pro Tip: Updating work instructions and SOPs is easy with VKS. Simply select the guidebooks in question and add the necessary changes. There is no need to chase down multiple versions on paper or in computer files. Updated processes stay updated!.
Employees are empowered when we give them the right tools to succeed. We need to seize the opportunity and make sure they are well supported in their daily tasks and responsibilities. One of the best ways to gain an in-depth understanding of the needs of your workforce is through productivity monitoring and a smart company culture that is ready to advance at every opportunity.
With powerful tools like VKS, productivity monitoring increases worker morale, innovates processes, highlights successes and failures, and of course, improves productivity.
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