Technology Record - Issue 30: Autumn 2023

INTERVIEW Engaged, empowered and effective David McLaughlin and Rebeca Boettcher of RSM US explain why it is critical for manufacturing organisations to invest in enhancing the employee experience Many of consulting firm RSM US’s manufacturing clients believe that developing engaging employee experiences will not create or add value to their organisation. However, warns David McLaughlin, principal Dynamics 365 industrials leader at RSM US, this common misconception could have a detrimental impact on the overall success of their businesses. “Concerns about issues such as the pace of technological change, safety, the environment, limited career advancement opportunities and the difficulty of achieving a sustainable work-life balance can all cause anxiety and stress for the manufacturing workforce,” he says. “Employees can also become frustrated when their needs aren’t being met, or when they have to deal with inefficient processes. Consequently, employees are happier when they are provided with tools that make them more productive. This translates into numerous other benefits, including higher quality work, greater contributions to innovation and process improvement inputs, and better retention rates, all of which can lead to reduced operating costs.” Empowering the workforce with the right tools also makes it easier to attract and retain talent. “Skilled employees can be hard to come by, and once you invest in training your people, you don’t want to lose them; it costs real money to replace them and to make new recruits productive,” says Rebeca Boettcher, senior associate for Dynamics 365 at RSM US. “To create an engaging culture, companies sometimes need to make targeted investments and connect with employees in a way they are comfortable with.” Manufacturing firms must consider multiple factors to ensure they can develop effective employee engagement strategies, including the age and existing skills of their staff. “While traditional methods can sometimes be most appropriate for driving engagement, digital technologies such as mobile applications are often the best tools for achieving this goal,” says Boettcher. “The advantage of using technology is that employees can interact and communicate in real time. Content – such as company news, schedules, staff absences, training, and more – can also be delivered quickly and effectively. Plus, organisations can use chatbots and other AI-powered tools to make it easier for employees to find the information they’re looking for.” According to McLaughlin, collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are now a necessity for every manufacturing organisation, particularly those operating in multiple locations. “Teams transforms the way people communicate and engage with each other, and it can create a sense of community,” he explains. “In addition to providing threaded posts, chat, conference calling and document collaboration features, Teams enables tighter integration of information across those channels. It can also serve as the framework to expose other Microsoft applications like Outlook, numerous planning and project management software (including Microsoft Planner and Microsoft DevOps), and several manufacturingspecific applications.” The Microsoft Power Platform suite is another useful tool. “Power Apps is designed for ‘citizen’ developers and BY REBECCA GIBSON “ Teams transforms the way people communicate and engage with each other, and it can create a sense of community” DAVID MCLAUGHLIN, RSM US 142