Is all manufacturing in the United States on the decline? While there have been major shifts in the overall manufacturing environment, industry statistics show an impressive upsurge in non-traditional manufacturing, especially in the small- to medium-size business sector. And much of the work still requires real, live human beings, not just robotics.

Current trends favor the small- to medium-sized manufacturing model. This may be because these companies are often more innovative and disruptive. They are flexible enough to make changes easily, and their fast time-to-market gives them a huge advantage over their larger, slower-moving competitors.

With success sometimes comes challenges. For instance, how do you find well-trained, skilled employees as production needs increase? And what are the best strategies to keep your workforce productive and happy?

Regardless of the size of your organization, it starts with finding the right workers—and then managing them to maximize their abilities. Here are six ways to improve productivity and your overall work environment, so that you can manage to keep great workers for the long term.

1. Utilize experienced operations managers.

This is the critical first step in helping blue-collar labor be more efficient and productive. A seasoned operations team can see and correct the biggest problems, and draw on years of industry-specialized experience to enhance the production of your site’s output each day.

2. Develop a well-trained workforce.

It’s your most valuable asset. While most companies realize that training is important, many don’t take the time to devise and execute a comprehensive training regimen. It’s critical to provide consistency in every level of training and continually follow up to make sure new employees really “get it”. Because when they understand what they’re doing and why, they are more likely to become experts at their jobs, which helps with longevity.

3. Provide meaningful, positive feedback.

Workers really do want to be managed. That’s why it’s so important to offer regular, helpful guidance that encourages them, such as praise for a job well done, or direct, clear communication if a course correction is needed. This is the cornerstone of effective management; in fact, studies have shown that regular verbal recognition is a bigger motivator than compensation to many employees.

4. Support the workforce.

Flexible support for a reasonable work/life balance also pays a big dividend. This doesn’t always require grand gestures, but simple common-sense solutions such as adjusting an employee’s hours to better fit the local bus schedule could mean a lot to an employee. Management support in times of need is never forgotten and builds employee goodwill and loyalty.

5. Maintain and promote effective safety guidelines.

Injuries can be a big disruption to a workday, not to mention the impact they have on costs and morale. A strong focus on safety has many positive outcomes, starting with making employees feel like they are important to the organization. Employees who feel valued by the company are more inclined to follow safety procedures, which leads to fewer accidents and injuries, and in turn, boosts productivity and efficiency.

6. Engage in best practices.

Think that large manufacturers are the only ones with the resources to implement best practices? Think again.

Regardless of the size of your plant or organization, implementing best practices to your operation can lead to dramatic improvements. Creating a system around industry and general business best practices helps sustain your strategic advantage and maintain or improve your position in the market. For manufacturing, it means finding better ways to cut costs and improve production by minimizing downtime. Ultimately, best practices free you to focus on growing your business, instead of reactively fixing problems.

Most workers want to feel like part of a team they’re committed to, not just hourly employees going through the motions. Implementing these six tips can help you improve morale and employee longevity. Utilizing a reliable workforce provider that knows how to develop and maintain a consistent management approach is essential. That’s where you’ll really start seeing day-to-day productivity gains.

Ready to optimize your company’s workforce performance? Contact Leadpoint at 888-205-1511 for a complimentary analysis of your company’s manufacturing work environment.