I’ve been reading many of your articles on the advantages of giving non-material rewards to employees. You’ve given some examples, except that they don’t apply to us in the manufacturing industry. Could you possibly give us more ideas? — Still Unhappy.
A dutiful father was teaching his 10-year-old son on what Christianity is all about and what a Christian should be like. When the lesson was over, the father got a surprise of his life when the little boy asked: “Dad, have I ever met one of these Christians before?”
Sometimes, there are many of us who learn so much so fast. But at the same time, we always feel the need to look for many examples and illustrations to test our newly found learnings. I can’t blame you. People managers need to fully understand everything and reconcile them with the specific needs, culture, and circumstances of each and every organization.
To use the analogy of a pressure cooker, managers must regulate the pressure by turning up the heat (from top management) while allowing some steam to escape (line manager’s flexibility) to secure the best possible approach to manage the workers. If the heat pressure exceeds that of the pot’s capacity, major accidents can happen. On the other hand, if there’s no “heat,” you can’t cook anything.
Therefore, identifying specific examples are necessary, at least those that best apply in your industry. Let’s go straight to the point with the following ideas:
1) Give a sense of pride and ownership to the workers. Allow them to stamp their names on every product or its packaging, in addition to those price codes. It also prevents people from making defects.
2) Distribute T-shirts with a positive message to deserving workers. The message includes “I’m a happy and productive worker” or words with the same effect.
3) Post the worker names, photos, and their skills in a bulletin board. This can also be used as the factory’s dashboard to identify who are “on leave” or “attending a training program,” for that day.
4) Put up tarpaulin banners of model employees around the factory. It can be done every month or periodic as soon more model workers are discovered for achieving a certain, above average milestones.
5) Focus on tangible results, not physical presence in the office or factory. Allow people to work on a flextime schedule to cope with the daily vehicular traffic.
6) Allow high-flyers to use company vehicles for their family vacation. This may be applicable in a car manufacturer. But the principle can be adjusted to apply in other industries.
7) Require the workers to make decisions at their level. Do this under certain conditions. The objective is to empower everyone and train them to do other challenging tasks in the future.
8) Assign people to alternate as line leaders for the day. This gives the workers a real feel of the challenges of their respective supervisors so they can best appreciate them as well.
9) Give everyone the “permission” to fail in certain special projects. This approach help teach the workers to take risks and learn from their mistakes without any repercussion.
10) Establish a monthly “birthday club” lunch presided by the CEO. Extend the lunch to 90 minutes, if only to allow the workers to ask some questions and bond with others.
11) Publish all workers’ questions or ideas and management response. This allows greater flow of information to all and correct any misinterpretations.
12) Solicit employee ideas and complaints every step of the way. Management may not agree with all of them, but what’s important is how it treats those ideas or suggestions to its logical conclusion.
13) Encourage workers to work outside of the rigid constraints of the organization. As long as the workers can promise tangible result, then there’s no reason for management to be strict in their policies.
14) Allow people to enjoy paid one-day leave to concretize their ideas. Create a policy that allows employees to work on certain projects, subject to certain limitations.
15) Require line supervisors and managers to limit their signatures to everything. One case in point is the approval of application for vacation leave or sick leave of workers in a one-on-one accountability approach.
This list is incomplete. I have more than 40 ideas that you can directly use or modify, depending on your circumstances. If we’re to summarize them here, we’ll arrive at two magic words — authentic leadership.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again here. There’s no substitute to having proactive communication process with the workers.
Really, how management communicate with people is as important as what they receive in cash.