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How to inspire frontline staff and retain loyal workers
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How to inspire frontline staff and retain loyal workers

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One of the biggest challenges facing the UK’s food & beverage manufacturing industry is the ability to attract and retain a team of inspired and informed frontline workers. Technology has the answer, says QAD Redzone

In a recent UK government response​ to an independent review​ into labour shortages in the food supply chain, Steve Barclay, secretary of state of environment, food and rural affairs, noted that the industry contributes over £128bn to the UK economy every year, provides employment for over four million people and puts high-quality homegrown food on our plates.

However, the UK’s food supply chain has been severely affected by labour shortages and retention, and faces difficulties in recruiting and retaining an adequate workforce, particularly since the combined hits of the Covid pandemic and the Brexit-related reduction in access to workers from the European Union.

For example, figures in the review show that the workforce in food manufacturing reduced by 481,000 in 2000 to 427,000 in 2021, a decline of over 11%. The result overall is a drop in productivity, with a clearly stated need to recruit and retain skilled workers. In fact, the Food & Drink Federation has made it clear that labour shortages are “stifling economic growth​ for the UK’s food and drink producers”.

Meanwhile, a recent food & beverage manufacturing survey​ by Bristol Associates found that 68% of food and beverage manufacturers face hiring challenges, particularly in terms of finding qualified people, with respondents reporting they frequently lost applications to other job offers, or they never had enough applications to begin with. 

So what is the answer?

Although conditions are beginning to improve, according to anecdotal evidence, there is no short-term fix. However, according to the labour shortage review​, investment in domestic workers requires businesses “to provide clear training and career development plans for UK-domiciled staff on the understanding that it is an investment rather than simply an expenditure”.

In addition, it says, “managers and supervisors should take deliberate steps to improve their leadership abilities, coaching skills, and understanding of diversity and generational differences. By doing so, they will be better equipped to attract new talent to the industry and retain existing employees.”

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One way to empower modern factory teams and drive manufacturing success is via frontline collaboration technology, according to QAD Redzone, an expert in mobile-first social technology in manufacturing. The business believes that the key to unlocking worker retention lies in inspiring frontline workers, with the result being a ripple effect to the wider workforce, resulting in greater job satisfaction.

“Just as technology helps bring people together, it can also unite frontline workers in new ways​, giving them the means of communicating with each other, accessing important resources and staying informed from anywhere on the shop floor,” says the company.

“By enhancing workers’ ability to connect with one another and share information in real time, manufacturing plants can optimise operations, drive greater productivity, improve safety conditions and create a positive culture in which workers feel empowered.”

How can this be achieved?

QAD Redzone advocates a connected worker platform – a digital solution designed with a singular purpose in mind: to better enable frontline workers to connect, communicate and collaborate. This type of software can also help manufacturers address common problems such as equipment failures, skills gaps within their existing workforce and quality controls.

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Via the use of wearable devices such as smart glasses, smartwatches or helmets powered by the internet of things (IoT), the connected worker can capture information to share with fellow frontline workers and send/receive real-time updates. They could also be equipped with a smartphone or tablet to view dashboards, monitor equipment performance and share their experiences with colleagues.

In addition, this type of technology enables them to access instructional videos and training courses, help on operating procedures and information that enables them to do their work effectively and help to inform and train their colleagues.

This level of connectivity, multiplied across a workforce, will result in “improvements in operational efficiency, productivity, employee engagement and overall job satisfaction”, says QAD Redzone.

Via an online blog​, QAD Redzone also reveals 14 key features that manufacturers should look for in a connected worker platform. For example, does it:

  • Offer mobile connectivity to support retail-time communication across multiple channels
  • Use dashboards and other visualisation tools to help factory teams evaluate equipment data against key performance indicatiors
  • Use digital displays to share information and updates with workers on the shop floor in real time
  • Have a built-in function to recognise and reward the contributions of individual workers and factory teams
  • Include a digital safety and quality audit?

Meanwhile, the company’s Frontline Workforce Engagement Study​ reveals how assessments at 50 plants enabled these to transform their level of frontline engagement, with a positive impact on productivity and staff turnover.

How Samworth Brothers uses Redzone’s platform solution to enhance performance

Samworth Brothers, which won the Redzone Productivity Award 2022, uses QAD Redzone’s Connected Worker Platform to leverage and accelerate its RICS (real-time information and communication system) helping the British food manufacturer to achieve significant cost savings and improved optimisation. To find out more, watch the video below:

Five key areas to empower workers

QAD Redzone, which has built its reputation around food and beverage manufacturing, notes that its Connected Worker Platform solution, already recognised as a front-runner in its field​, focuses on five key areas – frontline collaboration, productivity, compliance, reliability and learning – to help streamline manufacturing operations and make workers feel confident and empowered. Over 1300 plants around the world, are now using its solutions, the vast majority of them being food & beverage and consumer packaged goods manufacturers, according to senior director of growth marketing John Ponte. These range from pet food to ice cream, cereal makers and craft beer brewers to chicken or beef manufacturers. “It really runs the whole gamut of food & beverage,” he says. 

Evidence of its successes to date are revealed in its ‘Faces of the Frontline​’, which details how individual workers have inspired not just their own journeys but those of their colleagues in a variety of manufacturing plants.

To discover how QAD Redzone’s Connected Worker Platform can help to drive substantial improvements in workforce engagement, productivity and OEE in your business, go to​.

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