Parsable Podcast

The State of the Connected Frontline Manufacturing Worker

During this prolonged labor shortage in the manufacturing industry, there’s been a lot of talking ABOUT frontline workers, but not a lot of talking TO frontline workers.

Recently, Parsable sought to fix that.

In this episode (adapted from a previously recorded webinar), Jaime Urquidi, Manufacturing Industry Lead at Parsable, joins host Josh Santo to break down the results from a survey that reached 1,400 self-identified frontline manufacturing workers across five different countries.

We discuss:

Why do we need to invest in more digital tools for frontline workers

The consistency of inefficient workflows and communication processes

How the pandemic has given frontline workers a greater sense of pride in their jobs



Are you ready to start your digital transformation journey? Request a demo today.



Check out the full episode below:

[00:00:00] Jaime Urquidi: Retention through the modern digital environment is going to continue being a competitive effect. The frontline workers are telling us that they’re ready to receive digital tools to make their work better.


[00:00:16] Josh Santo: Hey, everyone. It’s Josh. We’ve got a special episode for you today. Now, usually here on Conquering Chaos, we interview an industry leader who shares the lessons they’ve learned so that you can use them to make improvements. Today, we’re going to do something different. We’re sharing with you an exclusive recording of the state of digital in the frontline manufacturing workers webinar, which Parsable recently presented. Now, don’t worry, I was also the host for it, so it should feel like an episode of Conquering Chaos. This webinar was based on data we gathered after surveying 1,400 frontline non-managerial manufacturing workers.

We asked questions about their perspective on their professional situation, career, technology usage, and productivity. The results, one of kind data-backed insights into things that matter to frontline workers. In the webinar, which you are about to hear, we covered the data we gathered as well as key takeaways from our analysis of the data. We also pulled the attendees and we discussed the differences between their perspectives and the ones frontline workers shared. One last thing, if you want to get the report and review it for yourself, which I highly encourage you to do, check the show notes for the link to the report. All right, on to the show.

With that, let’s begin. Welcome to today’s webinar, The State of the Connected Frontline Manufacturing Worker presented by the team here at Parsable. Now, we think it’s important to introduce ourselves before getting into the content. Just a little bit about Parsable, we’ve built Connected Worker, which is the premier tool manufacturers use to connect their frontline workers to the different people, information, systems, and machines that they need to work with to get their job done. By connecting workers through modern digital tools, manufacturers like Grupo Bimbo, Heineken, Coca Cola, and others have been able to improve productivity, quality, and sustainability at scale.

As a company, we believe that serving the frontline workforce and helping to improve their day-to-day experience is the key to the future of manufacturing operations. We want to offer a sincere thanks to all of you for being here today. I’m Josh Santo. I will be your host. I also, speaking of hosts, have the opportunity to host the Conquering Chaos podcast that Parsable sponsors. If you like conversations like these, and you’re curious about what peers or other leaders in the manufacturing industry are thinking about what they’re doing to tackle some of these everyday obstacles that I know we all face, check out the show. I think there’s a lot that you can get from it. With me, I’ve got Jaime. Jaime, [crosstalk]

[00:03:21] Jaime: Hi, Josh, thank you very much. First, before I start, I really recommend that you just take a peek at Conquering Chaos. It’s a great conversational way to understand where people are at. Josh is bringing people from all different parts of the industry, people are doing research. We’ve got people that are on the floor, people that are looking at the future. It’s great content. It’s very interesting the way that everybody just puts the different challenges together, and how they’re facing the different realities to get things going and make things happen, just taking products from the creation all the way to the shelves. That’s what we’re trying to do.

[00:04:06] Josh: Thank you.

[00:04:08] Jaime: I’m Jaime Urquidi. I’m originally from Mexico. As I said at the beginning, I live in California. I’ve been working for Parsable for the last three years. My role here is that I lead the industry expertise role for the company worldwide. Now, before joining Parsable, I spent over 20 years working in all the different supply chain roles from quality, maintenance, engineering. I was a fund manager. I was a production manager. I lead planning, you name it, many different roles in different companies in different countries. I worked for Procter & Gamble, I worked for Unilever, I worked for Walmart, for Coca-Cola, for M&M, Mars. Right now, I’m in charge of this industry expertise role within Parsable. I’m very happy to share the insights that we got from this survey with the group.

[00:04:59] Josh: Jaime is bringing his expertise from being in the factory, being in the supply chain, and helping guide some of these conversations along. We’re really appreciative of having Jaime here, especially today. Let’s talk about what we’re going to cover today. We’ve got 45 minutes on the calendar, and our goal is to present to you our research as well as our objectives. We’re going to make sure that you walk away with our key findings and takeaways, and that we have a discussion around those along with an analysis about it. We also want to make sure that we talk about what’s next because the information is good, but if you don’t do anything with it, it just becomes a fun fact.

We want to make sure that action is applied to this type of information. Now, before we get into it, we are using Zoom. We’ve got three polls planned for this chat. Whenever we start the poll, you’re going to see a pop up on your screen, just pick the answer to the question that best reflects your views. We also want to encourage you to submit your questions, use the chat functionality. I think it’s always a much more fun experience when we can hear directly from the people on the call because that way, we can make sure to guide the conversation, and you get your questions answered. Any questions that we’re not able to get to, we will make sure to follow up on.

Now, just an FYI, all attendees are muted and video is disabled, and that’s really just to make sure that no one has to worry about being that person that’s making unintentional noise or distracting from the conversation. We’re going to be using these features. Let’s make sure to have some interaction engagement. Now, let’s get into it. Look, no matter what you call it, labor shortage, the great resignation, the grey tsunami, a bunch of different catchy buzzwords describe the same problem. Manufacturing is struggling to recruit and retain current workers. Here are just some of the headlines that have popped up in the past couple of months, the issues on top of everyone’s mind, but here’s the problem that we noticed as a company.

There’s a lot of talk about frontline workers, but there’s not a lot of talking to frontline workers, not in a consistent way. This is the problem that we sought to solve. We wanted to hear from current frontline manufacturing workers to find out their outlook on their professional situation, technology usage, productivity, and more. That’s what we sought to find out and accomplish. Now, the way we went about this, we conducted a survey. We reached 1,400 frontline workers across 5 different countries, the US, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK. The respondents self-identified as being currently employed in a frontline hands-on non-managerial manufacturing role. I think that’s pretty key, the non-managerial part.

These are the people working the lines. We made sure to reach different individuals across production, operations, maintenance, EHS, and more. That’s what forms the bulk of our researches, the responses from these individuals, that’s what we’re going to be covering today. Before we get into our first finding, this is where we’re going to have our first poll. You’re going to see a poll pop up on your screen. Take a second. We’re going to take 10 seconds or so to give everyone a chance to look through the questions and provide an answer. Then we’ll cover our findings and the data points, then we’ll talk about the results of this poll. All right, we’ve got some results coming in. We’re going to keep that going.

We’re also going to talk about our first finding at this point. The first finding more needs to be done, particularly on investing in digital tools to stem the global labor shortage crisis. One of our first data points that we’re going to talk about, we polled workers and we asked them, “What kind of impact does the opportunity to work in a more modern digital environment would have on their decision to leave their current employer?” The results are pretty alarming, I think. On average, about 50% of respondents between ages 18 to 44 would consider leaving their current employer for a more modern digital environment. We could see that right here 55, 49, 51. That covers the ages 18 through 44.

Now, one thing that did surprise me, in particular, was that 25% of respondents over the age of 55 indicated that this also would play a factor in their decision to leave their current employer. Imagine the impact, half of your operation of workers under 45 or even a quarter of workers over 55 leaving your company. That’s a pretty big impact. Let’s talk about the next data point. Understanding that this will play an impact in their decision to leave or stay, how many have actually been given access to smart technology, smart mobile technology to help them do their job? When we looked at that data from the respondents, we found that almost two-thirds of all workers have not received access to mobile technology to help them do their job better.

Interesting. “Digital tools can play a factor in whether I stay or whether I go,” just about 60% don’t have access to that. Now, when digging into some of the tools that they use for the day-to-day, paper is heavily used to follow work instructions and track work. 81% reported being reliant on paper to do their work. Even though with that previous data point, 41% have access to mobile technology. People do have access to mobile technology, and 41% have access. Even still, the majority of people are relying on paper. A lot of times in this conversation, especially with my experience working with manufacturers, sometimes the concern is brought up that, “Look, people are resistant to new tools and changes, software programs,” et cetera.

In the past, that’s probably been true for a variety of different reasons that we’re not going to cover here. when asked about their own concerns and perceptions about using software apps in the workplace, the majority of respondents, 80% expressed no concern about using software apps in the workplace. Interesting data points. I’m going to turn it over to Jaime. Jaime, talk to us about what your experience leads you to understand and know.

[00:11:13] Jaime: Thanks, Josh. You know what, while we were looking at these data points, I started just confirming some things that we were already seeing in the market, but also some interesting insights. What we can say is that retention through the modern digital environment is going to continue to be a competitive advantage. The frontline workers are telling us that they’re ready to receive digital tools to make their work better. The other thing if we start just putting that together is the profile of younger workers, 68% of them, they indicate that they’ll be ready the next opportunity in the next five years.

What we’re hearing here is that people are expecting to have more digital tools. On the other side, they also don’t see themselves like our parents or grandparents that they saw that, “I would just go into a company, and then just leave there, and then just retire from there.” The dynamic of the market, the dynamic of the profile of people and younger workers is that they see themselves moving to different roles. The other very big paradigm that is being created is that if we think about our work environment, our factories, our supply chain, the level of specialization that we need for these different roles, and especially some of the very specific roles, it takes a long amount of time to get to proficiency. If people are thinking of changing jobs every two or five years, then the time to proficiency that you need to put into your learning environment needs to be crucial so that people get into the job, go to proficiency, and also feel that they’re delivering, and they feel valued as they perform their job at the top level. Another critical factor that we saw is that if somebody is exposed to an opportunity that has a more digital or more modern environment, then that will be a factor for them to make the decision to actually leave. Every time that an organization loses somebody for whatever reason, it’s a big loss. There’s a lot of effort invested in filling that gap and also just losing that talent and just creating that proficiency again.

That’s something that we really need to think about, and then start understanding how our strategy and our actual intentional moves, and how we’re moving forward through our vision as organizations, how do we start using these digital tools or these digital environments to attract talent and help them stay with us for a longer time and to perform better. The other interesting part is that, and Josh mentioned it, the workers are saying that they’ve received a lot of digital tools, or systems, or software. Also, 80%, rely on paper to perform their job. It’s a big paradigm. What we need to start thinking is one of the big things about paper is that it’s mobile.

You can take it anywhere. You can write whatever. It’s there. Then, on the contrary, the other part is that every time you put a data point into a sheet of paper, it dies and you need to invest a lot of effort and time to bring it back to life. The thesis is to start exploring how can we make technology and mobile come together, so we can provide that agility to these different organizations.

[00:14:57] Josh: Yes. To recap a little bit of what I heard I like how you started out, retention through a modern digital environment. That’s going to be a competitive advantage. Everyone’s hurting for workers. When you’re able to provide the environment that people want to be in, that people want to work in, that becomes an advantage that other companies don’t have. The focus is on, “Are you able to provide that digital experience?” Then what you talked about is standing that there is a shift in generational preferences. Job hopping is common among millennials and Gen Z, and most likely the upcoming Generation Alpha as well.

It’s about understanding that having people for 2 to 5 to 10 years, that may no longer be an option, at least within the same jobs. Some of the avenues that you can explore are, “How do you retain them within the company?” You can get a new job and still be tied to helping with running the factory in some way. You don’t have to leave the company. The point that Jaime brought up is understanding that and how to quickly get to that level of proficiency that you need as quickly as possible. That’s something that digital tools are going to be able to offer. Without doing so, onboarding’s going to be a lot more unstructured, a lot more difficult to follow up on it, and more difficult.

It all comes back down to, “Is this playing a factor in why people are leaving?” If you’ve got people leaving, and you’re trying to bring people in, and they’re just leaving, you’re not really solving the problem. Now, let’s talk about these poll results that have come up. I’m going to share the results that we just saw. I thought we saw some pretty interesting breakdowns. Most of everyone on this call is concerned about being able to retain workers within the next year. They would not, for the most part, describe their manufacturing environment as a modern digital environment. If that’s the case, then you see according to the data, that puts you at risk for losing workers.

When polled about the use of mobile technology, I thought this was pretty interesting, 71% say that they’ve provided mobile technology. Like what we saw in our data point, and I’m skipping one of the poll results down to the bottom, “Do your frontline workers still use and rely on paper?” 76%, yes. Again, you’ve got this situation where people are providing mobile technology, but they’re not fully embraced. Paper is still one of the key ways for capturing and transferring information. Then when asked about concerns, a majority do have concerns about providing new software.

There’s a lot to get into in that, but I think it’s interesting to see that dynamic of we’ve got the people on the call who do have these concerns, but we’ve got the frontline workers saying, “We don’t have concerns for the most part.” That’s part of the fun of these conversations is bringing these two different perspectives together. Jaime, what are your thoughts?

[00:17:47] Jaime: Josh, as we were reviewing this, it just came to my mind. I think that we’re in a transition, and it’s coming. I think that we’re in that limbo stage where we have the digital tools, but it’s hard for us to release paper. Just thinking out loud, but we already have some digital tools, some mobile availability. There are some things that are preventing us from getting rid of that paper habits.

How do we, as leaders, or as influencers or change agents within organizations, how can we make sure that we’re not passing that apprehension into our own operations by having two things doing the same thing? That’s something to think about. I’m just putting it there on the table. This is just something that came to my mind as I was looking at questions number three, four, and five.

[00:18:48] Josh: I think we consistently see that, and the experience that we have is that organizations no, matter what they are, manufacturing or not, resist change. What we’re seeing with the current labor shortage that we have now, what we’re seeing with the data points right now is the question’s no longer, “Should you change?” It’s really how quickly you can change at this point because it’s urgent, it’s here today, and it’s a problem that’s going to continue to get worse unless efforts are prioritized and focused on. That does mean something’s got to give. There are going to be short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits, and that’s a tough conversation to have.

Let’s take a look now. We’re going to move on to our next section. Again, feel free to provide any questions that you might have in the chat there. With that, we’re going to move to our next live poll. You’re going to see a prompt up here in just a second. Just take 10 seconds or so to review the questions, to provide the answer that best reflects your views. We’ll give you just a few seconds here. We’ve got some results coming in, and we’re going to go ahead and talk about our next findings. Our next Finding, frontline manufacturing workers are open to expressing interest in technology.

You still find pretty consistently inefficient workflows and communication processes that ultimately impact operations as well as different aspects of what it takes to run a facility. Let’s take a look at some data points. Now, this first one here, I thought was pretty interesting. We asked frontline workers what type of digital solution they thought would help them work better the most. Everyone knows that you want your workers to be part of solving the problem, and that’s exactly what questions like these are designed to do. Help us solve the problem. “What is it that you’re looking for?” We’ve got such an even split here. I was pretty surprised about that.

Let’s talk about some of these splits. Just over a quarter believe that a mobile device, instead of paper, would be the most impactful. Now, that’s tied with another 26% who believed that being able to quickly message a colleague or report issues would be just as helpful. We got 52%, 26% are looking for a mobile device instead of paper. The other 26% is wanting to be able to quickly communicate with individuals. Now, let’s look at the other two results. 25% say that at the moment remote guidance from experts and colleagues would be beneficial, and 23% are looking for immediate access to online training or informational content.

When you summarize that, you’ve got just about 50% of people looking for ways of getting the information they need right when they need it. That’s what guidance from a remote expert or a colleague is. That’s what immediate access to online training and informational content is. It’s getting the information you need right then, right there so that you can take the next action that you need to take. Now, let’s talk about something else that we see, this next data point that we have. We asked about communication because communication is the biggest facilitator of collaboration. How are people working together with other team members? This is probably not surprising to anyone.

Verbal, in-person communication is the most frequent way of communicating and collaborating, followed by phone, having a phone conversation, which is closely followed by exchanging emails. Then you’ve got different software tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack, that instant message capability. Some people report using notes on paper or writing notes on the Kanban board or just a whiteboard. Now, no one will ever suggest that anyone put a stop to verbal or in-person communications. That’s not realistic, and that’s not ultimately how you solve problems. People do their best problem solving when they’re together and they’re able to talk it out.

What it does mean is that you have to be part of the conversation in order to understand the context or what information was exchanged. You have to have been in person talking with people. You have to have been on the phone talking with people, you had to have been part of that email chain or part of that Slack or Microsoft Team’s message. What we’re highlighting is there’s still a lot of reliance on unstructured approaches to communication, which means things can get lost. If things get lost, workflows get impacted. Things don’t get done. That’s a risky situation to be in. Jaime, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

[00:23:18] Jaime: Looking at the previous questions, and this just relates to this follow-up question, we saw that 80% of the frontline workers rely on paper, but they have no concern. They’re ready to use modern digital. We also see here, the even split, that it’s going back and forth on what they want. The first thing that comes to my mind is that people want to work the way they live. Today, we live in a world where a lot of this communication, a lot of this information exchange, and a lot of this happens through a mobile device and in a mobile world. How could we help them just do that transition and not live in a digital world, and then go to a factory environment or to your work environment, and then be faced with something that is heavily reliant on paper?

On the other side, I’m also a firm believer that verbal communication is the best way to communicate. I think that with that shift, we need to start maximizing the use of this digital world and this digital availability of technology and mobile, so that, at least, the structured information that is relevant for a bigger audience can be captured in a structure and systemic way. You can start looking at analyzing and just digging into the data. One of the key things for an organization to be successful is its ability to find problems and be able to solve them. Because otherwise, if you don’t see them, there’s nothing to fix, and there’s nothing to change.

How can we just maximize that dynamic and enhance the capabilities of your organization through this availability of modern digital mobile tools, so that you can start enhancing their ability to find those problems, structure the data, look at it, and then start analyzing, and then start putting actions against it. It’s very interesting that what the frontline workers are telling us is that, “Hey, guys, we’re ready, but we are living here in a different environment that is different from the way I live.” How can we make those ends meet that we fool the whole circle, and then we just maximize the use of technology?

[00:25:35] Josh: I think that that’s such a good point that you raised, Jaime. Is that when you really look at the results here on what type of digital solution would help you work better the most, no one’s describing anything. Completely, brand new. They’re really just talking about the way that they live outside. Think about what we do. If I press people on it, you probably spend four to five hours on your mobile device every day. That tends to be about the average consumption. What are you doing? You’re texting people, you’re checking emails, you’re looking up information. You might be checking your bank account.

You might be on one of the Wikipedia or YouTube holes where you’re just learning all sorts of information you never thought you were going to learn before. That’s what we’re seeing reflected here. Using a mobile device. Being able to quickly message individuals. Being able to get information from other people right when they need it. Being able to look up information right when they need it. We’re talking about a connected experience, and that’s what the people are asking for. It’s clear that they’re looking for this technology to help them do their jobs better. That’s what Jaime was talking about. When you start to look at these different digital tools that are available, you’re not only providing a solution for what workers are expressing.

We want to work this way and give them the ability to work that way. There are new data points that are unlocked with these digital tools that can help you get insight that you just wouldn’t have been able to get before. Whether that’s how long a process actually takes, or how many people are having to look up information about a specific procedure, so that you can then make sure to train on that accordingly and double down on the education side. There’s a lot of different data points that become available that just aren’t available with the tools that we’ve had. Let’s talk about some of the poll results that we’ve got. I just popped up and shared that information on the screen.

Some interesting results. First question, “Which digital solution would be most impactful, mobile device in place of paper?” 63%. Compare that to what the frontline workers are saying, 26% opted in for that. We’ve got 63% here saying, “That’s what we’d be looking for.” I think that that’s key. Because when you look at a mobile device in a mobile experience, as opposed to just like a desktop-based experience, Jaime, you brought this up earlier, with a mobile experience, you’re able to take information with you wherever you go, or access that information or connect with the people.

Doing these things that the frontline workers are reporting that they want to do, but you need mobile technology to be able to do that from wherever you are. Because as soon as you are isolated, paper becomes a really appealing offer at that point. Now, communication, I thought that this was pretty interesting. It’s no surprise that verbal, in-person communication is the top one. No surprise there. What does surprise me is email is a top way of communicating, particularly, with frontline workers. Jaime, you can probably speak to your experience here.

A lot of the frontline workers I’ve met with, a lot of times, don’t log into their emails, or if they’re temporary workers, they might not even have emails to even check information. If that is true across the industry, which I’m going to look to you as that could indicate that there are people who are missing out on critical updates that they need. Jaime, what are your thoughts on the poll?

[00:29:08] Jaime: I think it’s very hard to choose one tool to do this communication. Communication is the key to everything. I think that verbal communication and being close to people is the richest way to do it. Now, there are some communication avenues, just to describe it some way, that I think that could be enhanced and just make sure that the message goes everywhere. Because as you said, not everybody has an email address. Even when they have it, not everybody has the need that we, as managers or as desk workers have the urge of checking email and making sure that it’s– At least I have that. My inbox has to be clean all the time.

People work in other dynamics. They have different priorities. Actually, there, making the product happen. That’s the way they add value. How can we just change that game, and make sure that the communication goes to everybody and also can come in a structured way? That way, we can at least have the minimum capturing of information and be able to aggregate it in a way that you can make decisions upon data, just information that you’re not making decisions on, it’s just a waste because you are not influencing anything by capturing that data.

[00:30:38] Josh: Interesting points. I think, ultimately, can’t emphasize it enough. There are ways of providing an experience that’s going to appeal to individuals, and you’re able to do it in different ways to make sure that the way that you’re trying to communicate and the information that you’re trying to communicate can be consumed by that individual, which is a pretty important topic. Let’s talk about our next finding. Now, before we do, we’ve got one last poll for everyone here. Let’s again take just 10 seconds or so. Review the question. Select the answer that best reflects your point of view. We’re going to talk about our findings. We got a couple of responses coming in.

Let’s go ahead and talk about some of these findings. This one, I was really happy to see. “Frontline manufacturing workers feel a greater sense of pride about their jobs.” This is big, and this is something that should be highlighted and shouted from the rooftops. Let’s talk about the data points. When asked about their feelings of being valued because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of frontline workers reported feeling more valued. Which I think is pretty consistent with what we saw. During the pandemic, the spotlight went to frontline workers, not just manufacturing workers, frontline workers of a variety of sorts.

I think the general public really recognized how much we as individuals every day rely on the people behind the scenes in order to provide the goods that we use day to day in our daily lives. That interruption was felt, and that spotlight was shown to say that these people who are putting– There’s a pandemic going on. They’re understanding that there’s a pandemic and still choosing to show up so that they can provide and add the value that they do. I think a lot of appreciation was really surfaced there. A separate survey that we did in which we focused on Gen Z and their perception.

We also saw this improved Gen Z’s perception of manufacturing as a career option. The spotlight placed on the frontline workers has led to feelings of value. This is important. This is super important. I know Jaime is going to talk about why. It helped boost that sense of pride. Now, on the other side, let’s talk about this. This is something else that’s important in feeling pride, engagement, is when asked about whether or not they believe that their management listens to them when they make suggestions for improvements in their work environment, 61% said yes. Now, that’s a pretty big deal.

Especially when we compared the results from one of a previous survey, which indicated that a lot of people didn’t feel heard or didn’t feel listened to. To see that change and to see that an overwhelming majority believes that management listens to the recommendations, that’s a pretty big deal. Jaime, let’s get your thoughts on this.

[00:33:27] Jaime: Just making the voice of everybody heard is important, it’s super important. We all appreciate that. Just seeing the results of this shift and what frontline workers are saying, I think it’s very good because it’s an indication of a shift of leadership style. As leaders, what we did 20, 30 years ago was totally different from what we’re facing now. The change that needs to happen is that we need to start leading instead of managing more. As we provide ways of everybody talking to everybody, and then just making their voice heard and giving visibility of how everybody’s performing, I think it’s very important. This is what we’re confirming here. We’re listening, or we’re hearing that that is happening.

One of the things that I see that is starting to change, has to do with the previous questions and the shift in approach to work, and how people make their voices heard. People go to work every time to do their best. I would argue that 99.999999% of people go into the work to do their best and perform the best possible. We like winning as human beings. With the technology stack that is available today, why not help everybody to understand and see how they’re performing. Then that way, they can just see and get engaged and then like that.

Then if they have ideas, how can make their voices heard? How can we as the next levels of the organization add up? We hear that voice, and then turn it into actions that actually impact the way that frontline workers work. It’s very important that we capitalize on this new dynamic and we teach our leaders how to bring this to life and create a dynamic that it’s not that the boss knows everything that needs to happen in a process. It’s more on, “Hey, you know what, we’re going to do this together, and I’m going to be an enabler so that we can make things happen in a better way.”

[00:35:40] Josh: I think these are such great points. This is true for everyone. Everyone wants to feel valued. Everyone wants to feel heard. When you look at some of the research on millennials and Gen Z, they want to know that they are making an impact. That’s where some feelings of value are going to come from. They won’t know that they’re being heard. When you think about it, the ability to make sure that people know that they are valued, that they are being heard, that’s going to tie back to retention. If you’re not feeling valued, if you’re not feeling heard, if you don’t understand the impacts that you’re making and how your contributions ultimately matter, you’re going to look for another opportunity in which you can find those feelings.

Being able to do this, to offer this, that ties back to retention, which ties back to that being the competitive edge. That’s not just a digital tools’ perspective, that’s also a bit of a culture thing. Now, there’s a lot of different ways to listen and tie these efforts to value, and digital tools can certainly play a part. You can talk about how easy it is to make your suggestions for improvements and to see the life cycle of that suggestion where the consideration– the decisions that are being made, who are implementing as a result. Being able to see that as a worker, to see that your idea went from an idea based on your observations to actual implementation, that’s big.

From a management perspective, being able to gather new data points, so that you can proactively address issues that may not have been raised yet to show that, “Look, we’re watching out for you,” that’s a big deal. Let’s talk about some of these poll results that have popped up. “Do you believe your frontline workers feel valued?” The majority of people said, yes. That’s great. It’s pretty consistent with what we’re seeing with the data is that feeling of value. Now, I will call out that still, 48% don’t feel any more valued. It doesn’t necessarily indicate that they feel less valued, but it is something to be aware of.

We want to make sure that there’s always that feeling of value because that leads to retention. Do your frontline workers believe that management lists the recommendations they make a majority say yes. That’s great to see as well. Jaime, what are your thoughts on some of the results we’re getting here in the polls?

[00:37:54] Jaime: The first thing that is great, is that it’s pretty consistent with the view from both sides. That is great. It just confirms that we understand the need to change. I think it’s just a call to action. We understand what needs to be done. We know what needs to be done. “Hey, why don’t we start just moving forward?” We’re going to connect that at the end of the call to action. I think that we’re consistently seeing that, “Hey, there’s the availability of tools.” We’re still in the process of changing from past to future.

Maybe it’s just something for all of us to think about, “Hey, what can I do today to start moving towards that and eliminating that transition phase?” Always within change, the most painful part of change is not where you stay in the past or you’re in the future, it’s that transition. I’m just putting that to the crowd and to the teams here, just something to think about.

[00:39:03] Josh: Absolutely. I know we’re running up on time. Let’s recap and talk about what the next steps are. We saw that look from a retention perspective, from an engagement perspective, digital tools are pretty critical because that factors into someone’s decision to either stay or go. Then we even saw the types of digital tools that people are looking for. We also talked about how manufacturing the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and how digital tools can play an impact in driving employee engagement. Because we were want to make sure that the people that are working are also the biggest promoters of that.

You want to talk about how to find people and retain people. You could have a job that other people might say as, “That’s not the job for me,” but if you’re surrounded by the people that make you feel appreciated, that you’re having a good time doing it with, there’s a lot of activities you can do. It’s the people that make the experience worthwhile. Let’s talk about some next steps. Look, review the research. We are going to send an email that’s going to contain the report, this report that we’re covering today. There are a lot more data points that we did not cover in this session, just for the sake of time.

Check out that report, read over it. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Also, I want to make sure that you know about our summer research, which is Gen Z’s perception on manufacturing, where we reached out to Gen Z, people who have not yet entered the workforce to understand what their perspective is on frontline work manufacturing. What’s top of mind for them from a career perspective. If you like these conversations, and you’re interested in learning more, check out Conquering Chaos. We’ve brought experts who talked about subjects like these.

We brought on Jake Hall, The Manufacturing Millennial, who spoke about trends with millennial’s employment, what it takes to attract and retain millennials. We talked with Gregg Chamberlain. He’s a former VP of HR at Stanley Black & Decker. He talked about the importance of building a local talent supply chain through partnerships with high schools, technical schools, and just the community in general and how that can help with engagement, recruitment, and retention. Finally, I’d also recommend checking out the next-gen of industrial leaders. We have conversations with Paula O’Driscoll, from J & J and Anthony Loy from Schneider Electric.

They talk about the programs that they are implementing in order to address this. If you’re interested in hearing what people are doing to recruit and retain, it’s a great source. Finally, don’t let the conversation stop here. Feel free to reach out to me or Jaime, email or LinkedIn. Make sure that you take this report, these data points. Use it to justify your projects or initiatives for attracting and retaining talent. We’re going to continue bringing you the data. You’ve got to make the change. With that, thank you so much. Thank you for your time.

[00:41:51] Jaime: Thank you very much everyone, and we’ll stay in touch.


[00:41:59] Speaker: Hey, Alice Walter, I’m another producer for Conquering Chaos. Before you go, if you’re not ready to try Parsable to help you get rid of paper, why not watch a quick video instead? Check the show notes for a link to a demonstration Josh put together to show frontline workers, what it’s like to use a dynamic digital experience to get work done. In it, Josh shows you how using a modern-day app enables you to connect to people, information, systems, or machines just like the app you use in your personal lives. Take a look and let us know what you think.

[00:42:34] Josh: That’s the show. Thank you so, so much for joining us today. Conquering Chaos is brought to you by Parsable. If you’re a fan of these conversations, subscribe to the show and leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts. Just tap the number of stars you think the show deserves. As always, feel free to share what’s top of mind for you and who you think we should talk to next. Until then, talk soon. Take care. Stay safe and bye-bye.


Listen to find out the state of the connected frontline manufacturing workers.