A Happy Shop Is a Productive Shop
The shop owner figured he had the perfect formula for success: he invested in only the best equipment and hired only the most highly skilled fabricators. He paid the top wages in the local market, so he felt justified in demanding more of his people than any of the other shops around. When he started to schedule shifts to keep working on many holidays at time-and-a-half and requiring mandatory overtime, he was sure he could beat out the competition on productivity.
Yet his once-cheery workforce seemed to be getting more frustrated and unexcused absences began to rise. After three of his key people left within a month of each other, he realized that he had a problem that needed to be immediately addressed. With the help of a consultant, he learned that most of his people had lost their drive—they felt burned out with all the long hours and couldn’t wait for each day to be over. Company morale had reached an all-time low.
As he began to meet with his team members and the consultant to work out a better strategy of management, he recalled a lesson taught long before in a business class he attended: of all the available resources a company might possess, the most indispensable ones are the human resources. He had forgotten to put his people first, which in turn had cost the company their complete allegiance. He vowed that moving forward he would never take them for granted ever again.
The Most Important Asset
Employees have been around for as long as businesses have been in existence. The first time a hunter or craftsperson in millennia long past rewarded someone from their tribe for helping them to complete a task, the concept of employment was born. It is estimated that the skill sets of employees account for 85% of an average company’s assets, making them far more valuable than many companies tend to treat them.
Employee morale plays a vital role in the success and productivity of any organization, including a metal fabrication shop. In an industry that demands precision, skill, and often physically demanding work, it is crucial to create a positive work environment that fosters motivation, satisfaction, and a sense of belonging.
Some strategies to maintain and boost employee morale in a metal fab shop include the following:
- Compensation. A fair and competitive compensation package is essential for employee morale. Ensure that your shop and office workers are compensated appropriately for their skills and experience. Offer competitive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. Regularly review and adjust compensation to align with industry standards. When employees feel valued and rewarded in a fair manner, it positively impacts their morale and commitment to the organization.
- Recognition. It may be simple, but one of the most effective ways to maintain employee morale is through recognition and appreciation. Acknowledge and celebrate individual, team, and shift accomplishments. This can be done through verbal praise, employee appreciation events, or formal recognition programs. Recognizing the efforts and achievements of employees not only boosts morale but also creates a sense of pride and motivation.
- Positive Environment. Creating a positive work environment is crucial for employee morale. Encourage teamwork, collaboration, and camaraderie among employees. Promote a shop culture of respect, inclusivity, and appreciation for diversity. Celebrate birthdays, special occasions, and achievements together as a team. Consider implementing employee engagement activities such as team-building exercises, contests, or social events to strengthen relationships and boost morale.
- Work-Life Balance. The demanding nature of work in a metal fabrication shop can often lead to burnout and reduced morale. Encourage and support a healthy work-life balance among employees. Offer flexible work schedules, if possible, and promote the importance of taking breaks and vacations. Provide resources for managing stress and promote wellness initiatives, such as exercise programs or mental health support. Prioritizing work-life balance shows that you care about the well-being of your employees, leading to increased morale and productivity.
- Communication. Open and transparent communication is crucial in maintaining a positive work environment. Encourage regular feedback and suggestions from employees. Actively listen to their concerns, ideas, and opinions. Hold regular team meetings to share important updates, discuss challenges, and seek input. Establishing a culture of communication where employees feel heard and valued fosters a sense of ownership and teamwork.
- Development. Providing opportunities for skill development and growth is essential for keeping employees engaged and motivated. Offer training programs, workshops, or certifications that enhance their technical abilities. Encourage them to expand their knowledge and expertise in areas such as welding techniques, metalworking machine software, or industry advancements. Showing support for employee growth demonstrates a commitment to their professional development and can lead to increased job satisfaction.
- Ownership and Autonomy. Empowering employees with a sense of ownership and autonomy in their work can significantly enhance morale. Delegate responsibilities and encourage employees to take ownership of their tasks. Allow them to contribute ideas and make decisions that impact their work. Recognize and reward initiative and innovation. Providing autonomy fosters a sense of trust and confidence, leading to higher job satisfaction and motivation.
Dedicated Employees Improve Your ROI
If you can create an environment where your employees look forward to coming to work every day and find satisfaction in solving the issues that are set before them, you’ve succeeded in increasing your return on your investment in them.
A dedicated employee who is engaged in their work can demonstrate up to 17% higher productivity while reducing absenteeism by as much as 41%. In addition, chances are good that you’d rather have dedicated rather than disgruntled employees interfacing with your key customers.
Maintaining employee morale in your fab shop isn’t just a nice philosophy, it’s good business. Investing in your employees increases their dedication, which is crucial for their productivity, job satisfaction, and overall success. As they succeed, they in turn contribute to the growth and prosperity of your entire shop.