By Marissa Fayer, President, Fayer Consulting
Employees are the basis of any company’s success. Without them, you won’t prosper in any location, and they are especially critical to ensure a prosperous offshore operation. Working for a business that values the employee creates benefit for both parties and can equate to significant monetary value.
The previous article in this series discussed how to manage relationships with your selected partners. Here, I will explain how to ensure your own employees at offshore facilities remain engaged, thus creating gains in both efficiency and profit.
Keeping employees engaged seems like common sense, and no report can gauge its value, but in today’s profit and time-to-market driven culture, employees oftentimes are afterthoughts. The traditional mentality needs to evolve past the outdated increase-pay approach, in order to keep pace with shifts in employee needs and the definition of engagement.
1. Make employees feel like they are part of the process.
Employees who are given direct responsibility to execute, create, and improve their job or function feel valued, trusted, and directly responsible for a positive outcome. When making decisions about the company's future, regardless of the scale and scope, it helps to strengthen your relationship with each employee and the group collectively. You'll gain respect from your employees and instill a sense of responsibility in your workforce when you let your employees voice their opinions and include them as part of the solution.
2. Create an awareness of what they are working on.
The products we create in the medtech industry serve a higher purpose. Show employees videos of the devices they are making being used in clinical applications, pictures of them helping people’s lives, and the marketing campaigns aimed at increasing sales. Most employees are removed from the broader context of their day-to-day work and how it affects people’s lives and health. When you help employees realize that they are improving and saving people’s lives — possibly their own or those of their family members — and you focus less on the company’s profit, their effort, thought, care, and concern will translated directly into increased quality and responsiveness.
3. Create a workplace where people want to go.
A healthy work environment creates goodwill, a sense of safety, and a positive outlook. Have a cafeteria and subsidize the food (if possible), ensure a clean environment, pay employees what they deserve for the market they are in, and post metrics to show safety, health, and improvement projects. And simply smile and welcome them with open arms to participate, engage, and improve in the place where they spend over half their day.
4. Engage employees to create solutions, not just do as they are told.
In the medical device industry, this must be done within the context of regulations. But, by using and training in the proper quality method, employees — and especially direct line employees — are the people who will shape and guide your success. Create incentives for achieving goals through continuous improvement metrics, which are simple and easily understandable as a path to growth for all offshore locations and employees.
5. Promote from within, when possible.
Create a path to greater prosperity and progress, which is the ultimate goal in offshore manufacturing locations. Creative and smart employees live and work throughout the world, and promotion of local employees shows the investment and value-add the corporation is willing to spend to create profit and a lasting legacy. The vast majority of offshore locations are in developing and emerging markets, where social standing is improving at the same rate of offshore operation implementation, and everyone wants to be part of the growth, development, and improvement of themselves, their family, and their country.
6. Be realistic and plan, plan, plan.
Efforts to engage employees can be on a small or large scale, but they need to be thought out and planned. A simple barbeque or a new initiative for encouraging healthy employees should be equally thought out, but not overdone. Directly ask employee representatives what they want, and don’t assume from your corporate tower that you can enforce your own ideals. Don’t overthink it, or else you will miss the mark for the type of impact you’re hoping to achieve.
7. Understand the voice of your employees.
The message at corporate must be tailored and customized for each location, but ensure that corporate incentives and activities also part of the offshore culture. Offshore employees want to feel both part of corporate and also distinct. Understand what is important to them at each location, tailor the experience, and continuously share ideas back and forth. Chances are that more creative solutions are coming from the offshore location than corporate, as there is decreased bureaucracy, which is one of the reasons to create an offshore location in the first place.
8. Be flexible and adaptive to what’s important at the time.
Trends shift, and what was important yesterday may no longer be important today. Flexible work and lifestyles has eclipsed high pay as the #1 determining factor for employee satisfaction — one that no one would have predicted five years ago, especially in offshore locations. And in another five years, it will shift to something completely different. Be adaptive and responsive in your methods of engagement.
Each approach to achieving employee engagement may seem common-sense and easy to implement, yet why are so many companies with offshore operations failing to employ these tactics consistently? Successful companies spend only a slight effort and an inconsequential amount of money to leverage these best practices and achieve significant growth and financial success. Their offshore locations will prosper and becomea value-add to the overall corporation.
The next article in this series will discuss how to give back to the community in which you and your partners work.
About The Author
Marissa Fayer is president of Fayer Consulting, a global consulting business helping small to midsize medical device companies reduce their costs and increase their profits. The firm specializes in manufacturing relocations, project management, high performing team development, and optimization of operations. Marissa Fayer has been working in the medical device industry for over 15 years with a focus on offshore operations and project management for complex multistage integration and implementation projects. Reach her at email@example.com and on Twitter @MKFayer.