Tag Archives: employee engagement

Getting Beyond Low Hanging Fruit

How Accountable is Your Organization?

Employee health and safety professionals understand the importance of safety in the workplace.  They know that safety comes in all shapes and sizes.  Yet, when bad decisions are made by management regarding safe procedures such as lock out tag out, what are some of the possible outcomes? Well, this:

OSHA case study: How some companies still flout safety to gain economic advantage

In this OSHA case study, luckily there were no severe injuries.  But what was just as detrimental was the non-verbal but loud and clear message to the employees: “We don’t really care about you.  It’s about how fast the product can be produced!”

Robotics assist in many ways.  One way is to reduce possible awkward positions and sustained awkward positions of employees. When dangerous short cuts are imposed like the one outlined in the OSHA case study— allowing employees to climb into the robotics cage with the robot still moving—what else is an employee to think?

Couple the OSHA case study with this one, posted in the same timeframe in EHS Today:

SLC 2018: Engaging the Workforce Is a Key to Health & Safety Excellence

In this article, Dr. Fulwiher makes excellent points and suggestions.  Our take home, since this is what our organization tends to witness, is this statement of Dr. Fulwiher’s:

This requires a transformation in the leadership of the organization, be it a for- profit or nonprofit, understanding the need to become more transformational and less transactional.” 

This is very true, as most top executives and middle managers are truly only focused on the output in the long run.

People DO NOT CARE how much you know
until they know HOW MUCH YOU CARE

So many articles continue to revolve around this mantra.  And it is true, isn’t it?  So, what can supervisors, employees, and middle managers do to demonstrate this at work and also outside of work?

  • Take an extra 45 seconds to dialogue with any colleague, co-worker, and more importantly, someone you do not know well.
  • When conversing, look them in the eye and notice the color of their eyes. Most of us don’t look at those we’re talking with in the eye.
  • You can smile when talking.  Even if the conversation is a critical point, smiling shows that you do care, and also places the other more at ease.

We should not need classes on this. However it appears that  we do, since there are books, audio tapes, seminars and lectures that all focus on how to become more attentive, genuine, and accountable.

Accountability Starts at Every Level—
in Your Organization and in Your Community

We hear, read, and experience for ourselves the disappointment and frustration when someone is not accountable for something they said or something they said they would do.  We know what it feels like, and we would love the unaccountable people in our lives to become accountable.  Unfortunately, it’s beyond our power to change someone else.

Therefore, the only way to experience change is to change ourselves.  This is what life is about: change.  How can we become our highest selves,  and how can we truly begin to treat others the way we would like to be treated?  Here’s a way to begin in your professional life:

When at work, be accountable.  What does this really mean?  Your “yes” is “yes” and your “no” is “no.”

In a meeting, if you are asked to participate in a project, or asked to assist someone with something small in their project, don’t say, “I’ll see what I can do.”  Either say “yes, I will,” and give them the date by which you’ll provide the information, or say “I can’t,” and provide a reason why.  This is where your accountability starts.  Becoming more direct, detailed and authentic will yield better outcomes in all of your interactions, whether with your supervisor, peers or employees.

As a role model of accountability, you can then begin to challenge your co-workers and colleagues in this area, as well as coach those you supervise to adopt this revolutionary mindset and value.

 

3D printer manufacturing

Innovation Is Not Just for the New and Most Up-to-Date Products for Consumers

Your employees deserve innovation, too.

3D printer manufacturingA recent article in the Harvard Business Review focused on the importance of U.S. firms bringing home their innovation centers—which they’ve shifted overseas right along with manufacturing (Sridhar Kota, et al., 2018). The article additionally points out that the U.S. “has also lost the ability to do the kinds of process improvements that are essential for innovation.” Our expertise and experience tell us that there’s a particular deficit when it comes to factoring in the humans, particularly those on the production line and the assembly floor.

Sports medicine technology and injury prevention innovations and their benefits are not being captured by industry.  Innovations made in data science, virtual technologies, and data collection and manipulation can now reveal, in real time, just how individuals move, thereby creating the platforms for movement retraining and other methods to restore optimal movements in any individual employee.  The impact of poor movement and the benefits of optimal movement aren’t a line item on any profit and loss statement, but they are certainly being felt there.  You’ll never see human movement in a strategy document, either, but you should, and here’s why.

As technology innovations advance, companies can begin to see exponential growth.  However, if these new types of technologies are imbalanced within a company, collisions will begin to occur—in output, life cycles, and elsewhere.  Although these innovations work on paper, they don’t always integrate and succeed on the assembly floor.

An example here would be that engineering innovators are using technologies such as virtual simulators, like 3D printing and other types of technologies.  While on the assembly floor, employees are still required to contort their bodies in order to assemble the product.  Some of the processes can now take longer due to the intricacies of advancements in product design and manufacturing.

In addition, these enhanced assembly processes now require increased skills from employees.  Current employees require more training, and new employees require new and different training.  This eats up valuable resources and does show up on the profit and loss statement as employees must be educated, trained, and mentored much longer.

Manufacturers have no choice but to invest in innovative approaches in the manufacturing assembling process.  Robotic assembly is not the only innovative restructuring process out there, and in fact is ancient in today’s marketplace. Powerfully integrating employees into today’s advanced manufacturing processes is the Holy Grail.

This type of methodology and use of technology can be referred to as “translational research”: not only investing in the R&D, but turning that R&D into physical reality, and that includes technology-enabled proactive and positive integration of the human part of the equation.  It’s this type of innovative use of human-focused technology in process design that can decrease employee injury, increase the consistency of quality of product, and increase the efficiency of production time.

Most large organizations have not yet come to the realization that seeking out cutting edge responses to human limitations on the assembly floor is a critical component of strategy and process design in today’s quickly changing production environment.  SMBs are looking for big business models to follow.  In both cases, the ROI of focusing on such solutions is rapid and a conservative >800% in the first few months.*

For some years to come, human beings will be on the assembly floor, much of the work there requiring more awkward positions and/or tedious fine motor skills of the upper extremities.  Biology of the human body is not getting a facelift in the near future.  Therefore, using the innovations happening in human movement analysis, correction and optimization will help to integrate and capitalize on the human aspect of assembling the new innovations created by engineering designers.

*Case studies available on request.

The benefits of treating musculoskeletal discomfort before it becomes injury.

The Benefits of Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) Through Better Movements, Postures and Tools

The Benefits of Treating musculoskeletal discomfort before it becomes injury.
Let’s be realistic: many organizations’ production/manufacturing processes and equipment will not be changing to “fit” the worker any time soon. And even if they were, workers will still become injured. Why? Soft tissue adhesions will continue to happen due to work station alignments that can’t be customized to individual workers. MSDs will result in individuals due to historical injuries that are difficult to record, track or know about. “Proactive” ergonomic changes such as reducing steps or reducing how many times someone handles materials can inadvertently cause other worker injury risks. For example, changing the work requirement from walking to static standing can be absolutely debilitating.

What’s left out of so many employee health and safety or ergonomic programs is a a focus on the individual. A blanket ergonomic program can correct many problems, but ultimately one size fits one. A proactive program to analyze and correct poor movements for individuals as well as overall has many benefits.

Such as:

  • Focusing on and correcting poor movements ultimately reduces costs. By proactively preventing and reducing MSDs, companies save approximately $1 out of every $3 in workers’ compensation costs. By continuing to focus on and correcting poor movements everywhere in the company and reducing the MSDs, indirect costs also go down, which can be up to 20 times the cost of one reported injury. If an average cost of an MSD episode without surgery costs $12,000.00, indirect costs will be dramatically higher!
  • Correct human movements boost productivity. Posture and movement solutions improve productivity by reducing muscle fatigue, especially towards the latter half of the work day. Optimal movement patterns need less muscle exertion, resulting in better efficiency of movement and a better quality product produced.
  • To emphasize, correct human movements improve product quality. Non-efficient movements lead to fatigued workers. This creates two issues: 1), increased risk for an injury due to lack of concentration, and 2), decreased quality of product made. The latter now delves into indirect costs rising.
  • Proactive programs to resolve movement-related discomforts create better employee/employer relations. Employees do notice when their employer takes action to foster their health and safety. And they certainly know when they feel better! And feeling better directly as a result of an employer-sponsored, employee-centric program builds a sense of satisfaction, loyalty and commitment of the company as a whole to build better products and to stay happily engaged in the process. Less employee turnover means less dollars spent on the hiring process and re-training. Less job-related fatigue and discomfort means less time away from work, less shifts that have to be covered, less disruption overall.
  • Early symptom intervention programs cultivate better safety practices. Safety is obviously a core value these days. As proactive care programs permeate a company’s culture, they increase all employees’ education on health and safety, demonstrate the value the company places on its employees, and improve employee self-esteem. It’s not the product or your customers that is your most important asset. It’s your employees. And caring for them in this way has an exceptional ROI.

Reducing Workers’ Comp Claims: A Radio Interview

Mike Switzer of the SC Business Review interviews Lori Peacock, CEO of Physical Performance Solutions, on the often overlooked and unique contributors to employee discomfort—including physical fitness—and how to optimize management of and provide relief for those factors.

3 WAYS A COMPANY CAN DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO ITS MOST VALUABLE ASSET

I have been reading lately more and more articles on LinkedIn and other sites about what is truly most important in a company.   Oleg Vishnepolsky, CTO of the Daily Mail and Metro.Co.Uk posted an interesting experience that gave opportunity for thinking and changing his actions titled, “Your most important assets are not your clients, it’s your loyal employees.  If you take of your employees, they will take care of your clients."  Then there is Brigette Hyacinth, writer and author about working relationships in companies, who posted on LinkedIn a similar topic, “Why You Should Put Employees, Not Customers, First!”   Great articles to remind us that employees are individuals with high value.

And while this topic is not new, why are there so many articles and books on this topic?  It is obvious that there is a truth behind the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care." This is an excellent company mantra.  For employees are, at the very least, two things to a company:  1) a company’s largest operating expense, and 2), a company’s largest and most valuable resource.  It is, therefore, critical for company executives to be the leaders in the manner they treat employees directly under them, as well as initiating programs that are powerful in the statement of how much a company cares for their employees.  The business we’re in—preventing employee injuries through a multitude of proven methods—is a demonstrable way to say to all employees that the company cares.   The benefits are two sided and valued by all recipients.

You may be able to visualize how the company can and should demonstrate outwardly their appreciation of employees, yet need a few easy methods to begin to institute and grow that care.   Below are three methods that can be used that will send a strong message to your employees about company commitment to them.

  1. Develop and start a strong daily stretch and movement routine. 

Companies that already have morning stretch programs in use, take stock.  It is quite possible that revamping and improving the program is in order.  For companies that have never started a morning stretch program, this method will be a welcomed employee experience.

Why?  Morning stretch and move programs provide not only physical flexibility and protection against injury, but daily educational moments as well.   Executives and managers can use this time with employees to improve their knowledge of physical movement and  fitness.  Not all individuals will have the same knowledge base, and this is an opportunity to bring everyone on the team to the same basic level of understanding.

  • For educational background, our bodies really do not stretch the way we may think of when the word “stretch” is used. Yes, there are elastic components in the tissues, but, overall, the tissues inside the human body slide and glide over each other. In addition, static stretches—the most commonly used type of stretch in many morning routines—should be replaced with what is known as dynamic stretches, or in Physical Performance Solutions parlance, specific movements.
  • Research shows that static stretches used prior to highly repetitious or ballistic movements can actually slow down the muscle firing process in the body for a short period of time.
    • To turn a static stretch into a dynamic stretch, make the stretch more of a movement rather than holding the end position.
    • This type of movement increases the blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, therefore mimicking larger movement patterns that maybe similar to the movements used in the work station.
    • Also add movements that are the opposite of what is used in the workstations. Why? For example, if gripping electric drills all day is a common task, the forearm muscles, both flexors and extensors, become fatigued well before the worker notices fatigue or stiffness. Teaching workers how to move body parts in the opposite direction helps to encourage and facilitate the tissue glide that is normal in the body.
  • Develop and encourage employees to use these movements all throughout the workday. Research in this area repeatedly shows that altering movements is beneficial to tissues of the body in maintaining a proper tissue motion.
  1. Institute a mentoring program for all employees.

In physical labor positions, many employees would like to step up and have the opportunity to expand their skills, yet feel that it’s not possible.  Starting a mentoring program at this level is just as important as mentorship programs that may exist in management or elsewhere in the company.

Mentorships here can take on many forms and be kept simple.  You might consider a reverse mentoring program.   An example of reverse mentoring can be an employee mentoring a production manager on the assembly line.  Managers aren't doing the work, so they may be missing some important elements that the frontline worker can see.   More importantly, the relationship between a mentor and mentee is something that can foster respect across departments and job titles:  a benefit that money can’t buy.

Another example of reverse mentoring is to couple an older employee with a younger employee.  These methods help to increase the knowledge base across the workforce and build mutual respect.  This reverse hierarchal mentoring is also shown to increase trust, understanding and engagement across departments and across a company’s entire organizational structure.  Additionally, reverse mentoring is a positive method for gaining an accurate pulse of the culture of the company.

Developing a mentorship program:   A H A moments:    Agree,   Hunger,  Appreciate

  • Agree. Each party needs to define their goals. What are the expectations? Both individuals need to agree to these and any additional rules as the mentorship program is designed.  Defining goals and expectations ahead of time helps the two to help each other gain the knowledge each one would like to gain.  This helps to increase communication skills for both parties and certainly increases the work relationship.
  • Hunger. To learn! At certain times, even the mentor will become the mentee.  Especially in reverse types of mentorship programs, both parties are learning new information as they share their ideas and concerns.  All of this helps satisfy each participant’s hunger to grow.
  • Appreciate. Appreciation comes from the new knowledge and perspective that was shared. As I mentioned earlier,  no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.   In mentorships, the building of new relationships builds a new level of acknowledgement and appreciation.  That appreciation can result for many reasons.  The salient point is that more individuals within the company now have a greater depth of awareness—interdepartmentally, intra-departmentally, and across the company’s organizational structure as a whole.  Engagement will increase for the company as a whole.  And, as a whole, the company will succeed! Because more and more employees will be on the same team.
  1. Utilize specific employee surveys.

Employee surveys are not new.  Most medium to large companies use employee surveys to gain insight on what is important to employees in aggregate and also to address specific areas of concerns for individual employees.  We suggest a specific type of survey that will be used to impact the first two suggestions we’ve laid out here:  morning stretch and movement programs, and mentorships.   Via integrating the responses from this more specific survey, these two well-known methods can evolve, stay fresh, and engage employees, thereby becoming a true demonstration of the company’s appreciation of and care for its most valuable asset.