High turnover, high absenteeism, and low engagement are some of the largest issues facing the manufacturing industry. Given the workforce is the most crucial resource for sustained success and growth, it is no surprise that the big three above lead to huge impacts on a manufacturer’s bottom line. 

  1. To start, hiring and training an employee is EXPENSIVE, with many costing between 90% to 200% of the original salary (1), and many employers offering sizable bonuses, just to have the employee lost 30 days after they started. 
  2. Knowledge, crucial skill sets, and safety procedures are lost and difficult to maintain when new employees are entering and exiting the workforce monthly at high rates. Knowledge and techniques established from doing the job for a year or more allow for optimal cycle times, quality, and safety performance from employees.  
  3. Last, it can be a slippery slope with team-members leaving, creating poor group dynamics and teamwork, poor overall morale and motivation, and a feedback loop that leads to losing workers that were a good fit. And everyone knows that an unengaged employee, with low morale is a recipe for disaster for performance and safety goals.

So what is the solution here? Personalized Training & Gamification

It is clear that more of the same standardized, mass produced methods will not work. Obviously compensation, promotions, programs, and work hours all have an impact on work life, but at the end of the day retention requires a lot more. And the once a year holiday cards will not do the trick. To really have a lasting impact on the individual worker experience, work life needs to leverage technology to make it feel more personalized and more engaging. Oftentimes in industries like manufacturing, when there are 100s to 1000s or workers in a facility, the individual worker can get lost so to speak. Luckily, there are a significant number of studies and science out there telling us to address turnover, absenteeism, and engagement by focusing on the training phase first, and then on to gamification.  

Training is the first exposure to the employees work life and the company. Imagine training as the lens that the worker will soon view everything related to work through. The Human Capital Institute tells us that 20% of new hires leave a new job in the first 5 months, with these rates being even higher in many manual labor intensive industries. To boost the training experience, there are a few requirements that work best for employers:

  1. Engage team-members with learning and feedback
  2. Empower team-members with tools and resources they need to succeed
  3. Show value and appreciation for each team-members efforts

If an employer can hit the above three criteria it can be a great start. However, even employers that follow these practices can often still fall short. And this is because they are unable to PERSONALIZE this experience. 

Personalized learning is so crucial to successful training, and for overall retention. Each worker is a unique individual, with a unique set of experiences, biomechanics, and perspective. To apply the same exact training to every worker is a concept that most trainers would agree is less than ideal. However, with today’s current technology capabilities, and the high demand from employers, the training teams do as best as they can. For today’s trainers to hit the three criteria above (engage, empower, value),  while having large training cohorts of 30 or more employees, and limited resources and data to track each trainee’s success, can prove nearly impossible. Luckily, new technology developed by Iterate Labs is able to help us bridge the gap between trainers and trainees, and to do it in a personalized way. At Iterate Labs, digital training is accomplished through personalized worker training scores based on AI and their own movement patterns, production, and safety data. Rather than having a generically applied, one size fits all process, it is finally capable of providing personalized training at scale. Trainees wear an Iterate Labs Delta-1 Smartwatch to track their data, to communicate with supervisors, and to receive personalized recommendations/insights. This game-changing ability is crucial, as workforce retention has never been more necessary with current global manufacturing workforce trends. Personalization will prove to be key, as recent studies show that high quality training and onboarding improves employee retention a staggering 82% ! It is in every employer’s best interest to invest in personalized training and technologies in the space, as the technology often increases the upskilling of workers, the retention of information, and the ramp to production time for new trainees. Payback is a clear cut win when it comes to personalized training. 

Incorporating Gamification Into Training & Normal Operations To Solve Long-Term Turnover, Absenteeism, & Morale Issues

The other crucial pillar of transformation for manufacturing and industrial companies to better retain and train their workforce is GAMIFICATION. 

Gamification may be a familiar old concept, but in this context it is worth first defining. Gamification is the strategic attempt to enhance systems, services, organisations and activities in order to create similar experiences to those experienced when playing games in order to motivate and engage users. Gamification leverages people’s natural tendencies for competition, achievement, and collaboration. The concept has proved extremely effective through history, and even Mary Poppins has defined it: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and SNAP! the job’s a game.”

Gamification helps to turn the boring large volume of content being taught, into digestible, exciting, and fun interactive games. In turn, the knowledge taught is better retained, and the experience more enjoyable. When all trainees, or all workers on a line have their scores provided to them, it is only human for there to be competition, and thus collaborative learning. By incentivizing and scoring the system on safe, productive moments, employees become encouraged to operate this way and to compete with others to perform in that manner. Another benefit of gamification is providing context for each lesson and skill during the training and normal working process. By scoring and focusing on certain criteria, it is only natural for workers to spend more time and effort on the lower score areas to improve, and hone their skills for the high score areas they already achieve. Gamification also allows for immediate feedback on technique, so workers don’t have to go an entire day or week before receiving any feedback from a supervisor. Providing immediate feedback is a proven strategy for boosting knowledge retention and helping employees to change bad habits. Lastly, gamification boosts worker engagement and morale by providing a sense of achievement, demonstrating they are valued by their employer, and making work life simply more FUN. Not to mention, that engaged employees are 87% less likely to be lost due to turnover 3

Gamifying work for 30 or 50 trainees, let alone 100s of people, sounds like an extremely detailed and time consuming challenge when not armed with the appropriate technology. At the end of the day the goal is to improve productivity and safety. Luckily, Iterate Labs’ platform automates the entire process of data collection, gamification, and providing scores to employees and supervisors, all in real-time. The Delta-1 Smartwatch digitizes workers movements and uses AI to connect these actions to important manufacturing production and safety KPI’s. Worker data is converted into real-time scores to guide individual trainees on how to best perform their job, areas for improvement, tracking improvement, and overall readiness levels. Training supervisors understand where their entire training cohort’s readiness, who needs help and guidance, and what they need help with. Once the platform is deployed on normal operations as workers transition to the workforce, manufacturing decision makers are provided with the details and insights they need to supercharge production and safety continuously.

Learn how to apply the concepts of gamification both to the training phase for a new hire, as well as the normal operating phase with the Iterate Labs platform.

We are featuring a special training starter kit for one production line and 10 workers here

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