Let’s not get ahead of ourselves on this “Smart PPE” hype. While the technology is racing forward and there have been some interesting developments today’s frontline workers would benefit greatly by having the data they need when they need it. There has been a lot of excitement around “Smart PPE”, Industry 4.0, and a bunch of other acronyms that the technology community thinks the frontline worker is chomping at the bit to get in their hands or in a lot of cases on their body.
Wanted: Front Line Worker
When anyone here’s the word Audit they immediately cringe and feel they did something wrong. Imagine working on the frontline and doing your job to the best of your ability based on the way you were trained. One day your supervisor pulls you in and says “Based on a recent audit you have been doing a number of things wrong and need to change immediately”. In most cases that supervisor had no idea that things were complying with what the audit showed. What are the ramifications around this approach?
Are Your Audits and Inspections Leading to Any Real Action Today?
What does your company make or process? Natural resources, automobiles, commercial buildings, complex machinery, something else? You have compliance responsibilities to manage and a vast host of audits and inspections for your workers on the frontline. New hires understand this if they have any experience in your industry. It’s part of the job. Part of the territory. Nothing to see here, move along.
You’ve probably noticed something different about new workers coming into your workforce, and it has nothing to do with the tropes about being lazy, living at home or avocado toast.
Younger workers you are hiring have something in common that separates them from your older workforce: Technology is integrated into every aspect of their lives. Literally EVERY part of their lives is touched by technology in some way.
Who is Dan? Dan’s been around for a long time and he isn’t going anywhere soon. He possesses a keen power of foresight - which is to say that he knows what is going to happen before it happens, evidenced by his most common refrain, “I told you so.” His experience is quite valuable, and could do wonders for some of the newer workers who recently arrived on the team. Unfortunately, Dan isn’t the best communicator, and interactions with him often end with a frustrated, throwing-my-hands-in-the-air type of gesture.
There's a challenge facing every industrial application worksite - a challenge no one wants to talk about. This challenge is faced across all Construction and Manufacturing sectors, across all disciplines from Safety and Quality to Human Resources and Operations. The challenge can't be answered with a piece of PPE, or a sensor, or an employee survey. The risks of not meeting this challenge range from increased frequency and severity of safety incidents, to reduced efficiency and productivity.
The biggest challenge facing industry today is: Given the wide range of experience levels, temperaments, and personalities that exist in the industrial workforce of today, how can companies engage with ALL of their workers regularly, efficiently and effectively?
The benefits of direct transparent engagement with workers are significant. A Gallup study determined that compared with business units in the bottom quartile of engagement, those in the top quartile realize improvements in the following areas:
The most common response we hear when talking to leaders in industrial applications about engagement is some form of, “We completely understand the benefits of engagement, we just have no idea how to measure engagement or even where to start.” This is an understandable position to have, especially when looking specifically at your own workforce. Industrial workers span a wider range of ages, experience levels and backgrounds than any other segment of the workforce.
The good news is that modern technology and communication tools have made engagement more attainable than ever before. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be going on a deep dive to illustrate why and how you can transparently engage with your unique Cast of Operational Characters. As a preview here is a sneak peak at how you can leverage engagement to get more out of one of your workers, Paul the Pencil Whipper.