We’ve previously discussed metal fabrication culture as one of the primary consideration factors for choosing a contract partner. Unlike tolerances or the quality of equipment on the plant floor, culture is much harder to directly quantify. Understanding a manufacturer’s culture in full is difficult for companies entertaining multiple potential partners for their manufacturing.
Still, there are telltale signs of steel fabricators that encourage employee satisfaction — an essential ingredient for long-term manufacturing quality and consistency. If you’re searching for a custom metal fabrication partner you can trust, these are the qualities to look for in a manufacturer.
Leadership and Operator Engagement
There is no magic bullet for the creation of employee engagement, a willingness to go beyond one’s own needs to further the interests of the company. Some manufacturers struggle to keep employees motivated while others have engagement in spades. So what separates manufacturer “A” from manufacturer “B?”
The quick answer is quality of leadership. Managers must develop healthy, positive relationships with operators in order to drive employees’ engagement with their work and instill loyalty to the organization. Employees with supportive management are not only more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty in their daily responsibilities, but are far more likely to have a longer job tenure with the company. This means giving direct reports ownership of their work without excessive micromanagement and recognizing achievement when due. This directly affects productivity and the overall efficiency of the manufacturing process. This isn’t something that can merely be fixed by expensive reorganizations of services or investments in more up-to-date equipment.
If you’re evaluating a metal fabricator, take note of how department heads communicate with their teams. If you’re able to schedule a plant tour with a potential partner, don’t hesitate to ask for an opportunity to see the day-to-day operational meetings in action. Notice how managers communicate with their direct supports and determine if the kind of leadership you see in person would benefit your project in the long run.
Employee Happiness and Development
It comes as no surprise that there is a direct correlation between employee happiness and productivity (happy employees are, in fact, 12 percent more productive). Payment in itself is not the sole factor keeping employees engaged and striving for higher levels of achievement.
There are multiple factors that contribute to employee happiness, but among the most important is professional development. Employees, including managers, desire development of skillsets within their careers and manufacturers that can provide these resources are more likely to have a more positive workforce overall. Not only are employees happier, but a refinement of their skillset makes them more efficient at their specialized tasks. Often, some of the best metal fabrication employees are those with little or no experience when arriving. While inexperienced, their eagerness to learn, combined with the manufacturer’s willingness to teach them, fosters a highly productive work environment.
When evaluating a potential partner, be sure to ask about their level of employee development. Do they prioritize operator development? Leadership development? This can speak volumes about a fabricator’s culture and, thus, their overall capability as a manufacturer.
Manufacturing is More Than Numbers
Whether or not you currently outsource your manufacturing, ensure you’re not simply evaluating quantitative information when conducting your due diligence on a potential partner. Employee satisfaction and development play a massive role in the long-term viability of your projects. These factors need to be taken into account when choosing a multiservice vendor you can trust to provide exemplary service.