[2022] 9 proven ways to influence employee engagement within the manufacturing sector

Engaged employees are 70% more productive than non-engaged employees, according to an eye-opening study from Manufacturing Global. These engaged employees influence employee turnover rates and boost profitability by a whopping 40%.

It’s not too good to be true. Let us show you how you can you achieve outstanding employee engagement in manufacturing. In this article we’ll look at proven ways to drive better employee engagement and the best tools available to achieve these outcomes for a manufacturing workforce.

How to improve employee engagement in manufacturing

  1.  Connect employees to the bigger picture
  2.  Encourage bottom-up communication
  3.  Share business-critical messages via the right channels
  4.  Recognise and appreciate your employees
  5.  Share performance insights
  6.  Put health and safety information in the spotlight
  7.  Provide ongoing training and upskill support
  8.  Treat employees with respect and promote inclusivity
  9.  Make employee wellbeing a priority

What is employee engagement in manufacturing?

Employee engagement in manufacturing is a measurement of how passionate employees feel about their work, their team and their organisation. It’s not the same as employee satisfaction, which measures how content or happy employees are at work.

Highly engaged employees are happy and excited to work for the company, they value their roles and contribution to the company’s success, and they value and understand the company’s missions and goals.

Why is employee engagement important in manufacturing?

When employees are highly engaged, they perform above and beyond their contractual obligations. Employee engagement can impact a number of business outcomes, including:

  • 17% greater productivity. Engaged employees are more likely to work diligently and go beyond their contractual obligations
  • 70% fewer accidents. Engaged employees are more connected to their workplace, and therefore more aware of their surroundings, resulting in fewer accidents
  • 41% lower employee absenteeism. Engaged employees tend to show up to work and do more work than their unengaged counterparts
  • Better employee health. Engaged employees are less likely to be obese and more likely to eat and live healthily. This is because engaged workplaces tend to show more respect for their employees’ needs and encourage healthy living
  • Greater employee retention. Disengaged employees are 3 times more likely to leave their company

Employee engagement has a critical impact on manufacturing business performance, so it pays (literally!) to improve employee engagement for the manufacturing industry.

worker with earplugs in a manufacturing workplace
More than boosting satisfaction at work, engaged employees directly contribute to the business' bottom line

How can I increase employee engagement in manufacturing?

When it comes to employee engagement and retaining workers, manufacturing leaders need to be equipped with the right strategies and tools to manage change. Here are 9 ways to increase employee engagement in your manufacturing company.

1.  Connect employees to the bigger picture

When a company has a purpose, employees do too. 70% of employees say their personal sense of purpose is defined by their work. When your workforce feels like their work is meaningful, they perform better, are more committed and half as likely to look elsewhere, says a 2022 study by McKinsey. Here’s how you can connect your workforce to the wider company’s purpose and goals:

  • Articulate and share company values. Company values define behaviour so whether it’s on digital screens or (old school) posters on the wall, make sure the company values are seen daily
  • Host town halls and forums. Use these events to show employees their impact on the wider business, and encourage employees to ask questions and share ideas
  • Share positive feedback. Everyone wants to know that their work is contributing to a greater good and testimonials give direct feedback to manufacturing employees
  • Encourage leaders and managers to exemplify the company values. Without initiative from executives and managers, it’s hard to encourage manufacturing employees to join the company’s purpose and goals
  • Reward the workforce. Just make sure to link rewards to the company missions and values
  • Survey the workforce. This gives employees the chance to reflect on their purpose and how it connects to the company’s purpose

2.  Encourage bottom-up communication

Businesses that focus on employee feedback and understanding enjoy higher levels of talent attraction and retention. However, a recent Gallagher employee engagement report found that a mere 47% of businesses surveyed had a process in place to capture employee feedback and many were missing opportunities to collect feedback. If you want to boost engagement, you need to ask for feedback, analyse and act on feedback. Here are some ways to collect employee feedback:

  • Pulse surveys. These are short and quick surveys (less than five minutes) and can be done frequently
  • New employee surveys. Survey new hires at 30, 60 and 90 days to learn about the early employee experience
  • People managers. Frontline managers can capture both formal and informal employee feedback in one-on-ones, team meetings, and lunchroom chats
  • Stay interviews. A great way to collect feedback from top performers and find out what keeps them at the company and create opportunities for them
  • Employee engagement surveys. This is a more comprehensive survey than pulse surveys, and are done less frequently
  • Exit interviews. Find out why employees are leaving and uncover opportunities to retain existing employees
  • Review sites. Sometimes employees rather share their feedback anonymously so keep an eye on popular review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, Great Place to Work and more

Employees are four times more likely to stay with a company if they feel like their feedback is valued. Make sure you not only capture employee feedback, but also act on it.

3. Share business-critical messages via the right channels

Do your workforce know where (or who) to find business-critical information? Most traditional internal communication channels, such as noticeboards, word of mouth from a people manager, company magazine, are hard to scale and difficult to standardise. You don’t want your workers relying on their co-workers for the latest news — it could lead to confusion and dissatisfaction.

More manufacturers are relying on digital tools like workplace digital signage software or internal communication apps to standardise and share information. This allows the communications team to control messages: when it goes out, who receives it, and the contents of the message.  When the workforce doesn’t have to actively hunt out information they need, it gives them time to do more productive work.

4. Recognise and appreciate your employees

Compared to employees who don’t feel valued, employees who feel valued were more than four times as likely to report high levels of work engagement, less likely to feel stressed at work, and don’t plan to leave the company in the next year, reported a 2021 study.

So, if you want to retain high-potential skilled workers in manufacturing, make sure your workforce feels seen and valued.  Here are some formal and informal ways to show your workforce you appreciate them:

  • Take five minutes at the start or end of each team meeting to highlight a star performer. You can also open the floor to anyone to share
  • Use internal communication channels to highlight star performers
  • Reward top performers or top teams with a free lunch
  • Provide gift cards so employees can choose the reward they want
  • Develop an employee recognition program
  • Celebrate employee milestones and achievements 

Recognition and appreciation slide templates for internal communications

If you’re a Vibe.fyi user, you can easily give a shoutout to your top workers or teams using the Profiles, Profiles (Classic), Podium (Top 10) templates.

Explore our templates.

5. Share performance insights

Key performance indicators and performance metrics can motivate your frontline workers. Share KPIs like profitability, production volume, number of units produced, Overall Operations Effectiveness and more to drive engagement. Here are some key things to remember when sharing performance insights with employees:

  • Choose your method of communication. If you’re sharing the performance metrics via a company-wide email, it’s probably already lost in their inbox. If you’re sharing a spreadsheet, there’s probably heaps of data they won’t know what to look at. Instead, a dashboard on a digital signage screen places the information they need to know in front of them in a non-intrusive way
  • Present data meaningfully. A spreadsheet of numbers won’t cut it. Make sure employees understand the key metrics and what it means for them – are they on track, behind or ahead of schedule? How does their performance compare to the years before?
  • Don’t distract. Dashboards aren’t the place for artistic expression so keep graphics clean and simple so your team can focus on what matters
  • Keep these metrics front of mind. Actively place these insights where they will be easily seen. Make use of digital signage on the factory floor, digital screens in the lunchroom and around the warehouse. This allows you to place business-critical information in front of workers without distracting them, and without relying on them checking their mobile phones or laptops

Performance insight templates for internal communications

If you’re a Vibe.fyi user, you can share KPIs and metrics using the various Data and Graph slide templates. Depending on where you capture performance data, you can integrate it with Vibe.fyi so that it automatically pulls the data for the ultimate set-and-forget slide.

Explore our templates.

Mockup of Vibe.fyi on a phone (landscape), laptop and screen. The screens all show performance dials

6. Put health and safety information in the spotlight

A disengaged workforce is a big concern for safety managers. Disengaged employees have 64% more accidents than workers who say they’re engaged with their job, according to a Gallup survey. Safety managers should be reinforcing key health and safety messages because an engaged workforce is a safe workforce. Engaged workers are more likely to:

  • Almost always follow safety procedures
  • Wear proper PPE
  • Support new policies and procedures
  • Confront employees who behave unsafely
  • Report unsafe behaviours

Health and safety templates for internal communications

If you’re a Vibe.fyi user, you can share health and safety messages using the various Noticeboard templates. You can also use a themed info bar to keep messages displayed.

Explore our templates.

7. Provide ongoing training and upskill support

Many manufacturing organisations are facing a skill gap as the older generation retires, taking knowledge and skills with them. Prepare for the future by providing regular opportunities for your workforce to train and upskill. How to upskill manufacturing workers:

  • Assess current skills. Use a skills matrix to map your employees’ current skills. This will be the benchmark for measuring progress
  • Identify skills needed. These should align with the business plan and anticipated industry opportunities
  • Create upskilling goals. Set employee-specific goals
  • Match workers with new learning opportunities. This is where you start to offer training and development opportunities
  • Monitor and adjust progress. Track how progress is going and if and adjustments need to be made
worker driving forklift in a brewery
What are some ways your workers can reskill or upskill?

8. Treat employees with respect & promote inclusivity

Manufacturing companies are typically made up of corporate (in-office) workers and frontline workers. The division between these two groups of workers can create perceived unfairness. For example, your warehouse staff might believe that in-office workers are getting better or more perks. This creates tension and disengagement.

Not only must your frontline workers receive the same treatment and benefits as your corporate employees, but it must be also very clear what is available to them and how they can access it.

Treating all employees with respect and inclusivity shows that you value and respect them. Luckily for the business, it’s a simple gesture that’s easy to put into action, and has a noticeable difference.

9. Make employee wellbeing a priority

Investing in the physical and mental health and wellbeing of your workforce creates a healthy workplace and is simply good business that is also good for business. Wellplace describes this as

  • The right thing to do. A successful business looks after its people and community
  • The smart thing to do. Employees prefer a positive workplace culture where they can be happy, safe and productive, and so are less likely to leave
  • The legal thing to do. Legislation says employers must provide a healthy and safe workplace

Here are some ways you can make employee wellbeing a priority:

  • Engage with a professional to run courses
  • Share wellbeing programs up on your workplace digital signage screen. And they don’t have to be about mental health. It can also include topics such as healthy living, financial wellbeing, dealing with stress, keeping fit and more


While there’s no singular solution for greater employee engagement in manufacturing, the key is to remember that cultivating employee engagement is a continuous process that leaders and managers must nurture.

We’ve found that the best way to effectively capture attention and communicate these messages is to make them visual and dynamic. Digital screens are the best vehicle for informing and engaging a deskless workforce — without distracting them from their work. Get a first-hand look at how Vibe.fyi brings your internal communications to life.

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