Handing over control to the workforce might feel a little counterintuitive, but there’s plenty of evidence to support that this hands-off approach empowers workers and reaps the rewards. An empowered workforce is undoubtedly a productive one.
We’ve seen, time and time again, improvements in engagement where employees are given the ability to monitor their productivity – their natural competitive nature kicks in, and they try to excel themselves. It’s about managing expectation, gamifying the workplace, and putting your workforce in control of how they allocate their working day.
Machine monitoring provides a live stream of data, reflecting the productivity of machines on the factory floor. It affords forward-thinking managers the ability to keep track of production targets in real time, to identify devices that are in need of maintenance, and to keep adrift of the productivity of the team.
Of course, there are horror stories of certain large warehouse retailers who put their staff under colossal pressure to meet unrealistic targets – practically chaining staff to their beepers, keeping them confined to the factory floor while denying them even a toilet break.
That type of control breeds resentment; not engagement.
Machine monitoring is not about that. There are, of course, ways that the technology could be used to dictate and control – but who wants that?
Who wants a taskforce who are afraid to go to the toilet?
Who wants a taskforce who dread coming into work?
Dictatorships in the workplace just don’t get the best out of their employees – they run them into the ground, create an impenetrable wave of stony resentment, and – let’s face it – they treat their workers like machines.
And no-one wants that.
Setting unrealistic targets is the first step to disempowering your workforce. And this is about empowering your workers to come in to work with a positive outlook, with a recognition of how their role contributes to the bigger picture.
Machine monitoring provides a worker with the ability to track their productivity against targets. And if you incentivize workers who exceed those targets, then you have the perfect storm of motivated worker and high plant productivity.
Gamification is a relatively new notion in manufacturing, and it monopolizes on the competitive nature of the workforce. The concept applies and integrates elements of game mechanics (target hitting, normative comparison, consistency in the rate of production, etc.) to motivate participation, loyalty, and engagement.
Game designers understand that data drives a deep motivation to keep players playing.
Think about games like Candy Crush. It opens with the simplest, most novice-level possible; it seems unchallenging and straightforward and lulls the player into a belief that they can master the game. But it gets progressively harder, introducing new rules and, sometimes, setting you against the clock. As the challenge increases, you find that you just continue to play. You work with greater determination to beat the machine.
But, if the challenge becomes unwieldy, we give up.
Consider Minecraft – there are seemingly very few rules (and let’s face it, the graphics aren’t much to write home about!). But kids are hooked on creating a three-dimensional world that they can travel around and call their own. There’s no “game” in the traditional sense – sure, there are pirates and leopards that are keen to eat your digital chickens – but the sense that they are creating something that is undeniably there’s is a tempting (and addicting) quality.
So, if the rules of the factory floor are to create four pieces in an hour, you could incentivize anyone who produces five pieces. Your team player will be able to monitor their productivity and make sure that they exceed their targets.
FreePoint’s software provides the employee with the ability to keep scores, to track their progress, and to display their user-statistics, while comparing them against company norms.
But what about quality?
Quality is paramount, of course. Machine monitoring helps maintain quality because it provides accountability data.
An engaged employee uses their data to achieve a clear record of accountability for their work. And employees accountable for their productivity help maintain superior execution and greater creativity while securing a sense that they’re in charge of their own existence.
So, what do machinists think about being monitored?
The feedback received from the people on the floor is overwhelmingly positive. Machinists enjoy the gamification elements which directly engages them with their work function in the broader scheme of the factory. It provides context to their role and offers a consistent measure of their performance that they can monitor for themselves. They can view their own stats, and recognize their performance metrics in real-time.
The benefits of putting your workforce in the driving seat are two-fold: you facilitate greater engagement by monitoring own performance, and you work towards realistic targets. You maintain quality, while managers and factory owners get a team of engaged, motivated employees who naturally come together as a team: helping everyone achieve their targets; producing products that they’re proud of.