Company culture is one of the most powerful factors in determining whether an organization is successful or not. In fact, the right company culture can improve productivity, employee engagement, retention, and recruiting. But what is company culture and why is it especially important in the manufacturing industry? What kind of impact does it have on new and existing employees? What can organizations do to foster a company culture that drives results? In this article, we dive into what company culture is and how manufacturers can improve their company culture. 

What is Company Culture?

At its core, company culture is everything that defines your organization. It is the shared values, attitudes, behaviours, and expectations that make up a work environment. In other words, it’s the way people feel about the work they do, the values they believe in, where they see the company going, and what they’re doing to get it there.

Culture is what creates the day-to-day experience at a company. An organization with a strong company culture makes all employees feel like they belong and empowers them to do their work to the best of their abilities on a daily basis. In essence, organizations that focus on the cultural elements that inspire and matter to team members have employees that are engaged, committed, and excited to come to work. 

In sum, think of company culture like your character. It all comes down to who your company is at its core and what it’s known for.

Where does company culture come from?

There are a lot of variables that make up a company culture. However, the most important variables are how:

  • — Decisions are made
  • — Employees are recognized and rewarded
  • — People are hired, promoted, and dismissed
  • — Employees celebrate their work and each other
  • — Employees communicate and collaborate with each other

While many companies do all, or most, of these things, it’s not about what you do, but how you do it.

The Importance of Company Culture in the Manufacturing Industry

The manufacturing industry is in dire need of a dramatic culture shift. Longtime employees are getting retiring and exiting the workforce. Jobs are not being done because of a skilled labour shortage. And younger generations would rather work in a different industry than on a shop floor. 

A strong company culture isn’t necessarily the direct solution for any hiring, retention, and human resources challenges that the manufacturing industry faces. However, when managers and leaders put in the time and effort to build a culture that focuses on improving the work environment, employee engagement, and employee well-being, they can reap a lot of benefits. In fact, according to a study done by Gallup, strong company cultures can result in improved employee engagement, which in turn, can result in increased productivity and efficiency. 

While other industries have taken the opportunities to foster company culture, the manufacturing industry has been slow to follow. As a result, manufacturing is the least engaged occupation across the United States. This makes it more vital for manufacturers to prioritize and improve their company culture and work environment. 

Signs that manufacturers have a good company culture
  • — High retention rates
  • — Open and clear communication
  • — Opportunities for advancement
  • — Employees are developing continually
  • — Good relationships between employees and employees and their managers and leaders
Signs that manufacturers should improve their company culture
  • — Employee burnout
  • — High turnover rates
  • — No work-life balance
  • — Unethical or illegal behaviour
  • — Employees are hesitant to openly communicate with their leaders and managers

4 Ways Manufacturers Can Improve Their Company Culture

Building a strong and effective company culture in manufacturing companies can take a lot of work, intention, and effort. This is especially true because it goes against how “toxic” the manufacturing industry has been for decades. However, it is doable. Here are four ways manufacturers can improve their company culture for their workers: 

Four ways manufacturers can improve their company culture
1. Show you're listening and welcome feedback

One of the most effective ways manufacturers can improve their company culture is to show that they’re listening to their employees and to welcome feedback from them. Employees who are engaged feel like they’re part of a team and that their voice matters. So, to ensure that your employees feel a sense of belonging and that they’re heard, it’s recommended that you: 

Survey employees

To get a better understanding of how your employees are feeling, use pulse surveys or text them quick questions asking how they’re doing. A quick text in the morning might ask employees how stressed they’re feeling that day on a scale of one to five. On the other hand, a pulse survey might dig deeper by asking a series of questions about if they’re satisfied with their benefits or if they feel like they are recognized and rewarded enough. Once you’ve collected enough answers or surveys, track the data, see the trends, and take action accordingly. For instance, if you’ve found that employees are often rating their stress levels at a four or five, look for ways to make those days easier with something as simple as a monthly pizza day. 

Collect feedback

Just because frontline employees are not leaders or manager doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable suggestions to improve operations. By doing this, it’ll help give them a sense of value in the workplace. After all, nobody knows your frontline operations better than they do. So, why not leverage this intel and knowledge? Collecting suggestions for improvement opportunities becomes much easier when you use an idea management system like the LeanSuite’s Suggestion Platform

2. Create an employee recognition program

Creating an employee recognition program is another way manufacturers can improve their company culture. Employee recognition is important in the manufacturing industry because recognition helps employees see that their company values them and their contributions to the success of the company. What’s more, when employees feel valued, they’re more engaged and productive. As a result, they are more likely to go the extra mile for their company.

Your team is the backbone of your company and if you want to improve your company culture, start by making sure your team knows you value them. There are plenty of ways to recognize and appreciate your team. You can go big as offering rewards or as simple as encouraging peer-to-peer employee recognition, through a points system. Whatever you choose to do, make sure recognizing and appreciating your team becomes an essential part of your company culture. 


3. Create opportunities for employees to connect

Connection plays a huge part in building a productive and efficient workplace. This is because connected teams drive collaboration, nurture healthy working relationships, and promote knowledge-sharing. The more connected we are as teammates, the more efficient our workplace will be. So, to improve their company culture, manufacturers should create opportunities for employees to connect.

Examples of ways for team leaders and managers to prioritize these relationships include hosting monthly team lunches or activities like movie watch parties or virtual escape rooms during work hours. Additionally, leaders and managers can further enhance bonding through smaller actions such as creating opportunities to chat with an employee after lunch or asking an employee about themselves during a one-on-one meeting. By doing these activities, it shows that non-work related tasks are just as valuable as work related tasks. 

4. Help employees advance their careers

While celebrating employees and welcoming feedback is important, manufacturers should supplement positive recognition with opportunities for meaningful career advancements to improve their company culture. By prioritizing employee development, this ensures that employees’ skills evolve in accordance with industry trends and best practices. Moreover, manufacturers who invest in additional education that complements an employee’s career trajectory can experience increased employee retention, improved employee engagement, and greater revenue. In fact, according to ClearCompany, 94 percent of employees would stay longer if companies invested in employee development. So, if you don’t start investing in your team and developing your employees, they’ll find someone else who will.