New research from Microsoft Australia reveals that first line manufacturing workers, those people who build and create products, and business managers face similar workplace pressures even though they have differing day-to-day responsibilities. These pressures are all related to timeliness, meeting deadlines and expected outcomes, work-life balance, financial performance and bottom-line profits.
Microsoft commissioned an online survey which was conducted by a research firm, YouGov, and sent to more than 1000 working adults in four different industries including health, manufacturing, retails, and the public sector. The results help establish the greatest pressures and challenges workers face and to identify the solutions that employees want to use to alleviate them.
The research illuminates that business managers and firstline workers share the three top business priorities including enhancing customer experience, improving workplace culture, and growing their own skill set. 54 percent of firstline workers identified their top business priority as growing their skill set as compared to 39 percent of business managers. Improving workplace culture came in second with firstline workers with 40 percent and also with 39 percent of business managers. Improving customer service placed third with 35 percent of both groups.
Further revelations include the fact that business managers and firstline workers experience the same pressures and challenges in the workplace. These include:
Automation is rapidly transforming the manufacturing sector beginning with the area of processes and operations. This change causes significant distance between firstline workers and an organisation’s higher purpose. While efforts to engage firstline workers have been tried, research shows that 22 percent of firstline workers are committed to their work but not engaged in their current position. This percentage is comparable to the 21 percent of business managers who feel the same.
“Employee engagement goes right to the heart of a business and does not just make a business unique, but also successful. A productive manufacturing sector driven by an engaged, collaborative and connected workforce will provide a catalyst for economic growth. At Microsoft, we empower firstline workers by providing them with digital tools to exercise greater creative and strategic freedom, bringing real value to their work. Organisations which create an engaged, connected and collaborative workforce will be better poised for success in the long-term by promoting a productive workforce.” – Ian Heard, Modern Workplace Lead, Microsoft Australia
Over half (51 percent) of manufacturing employees, both firstline workers and business managers, report that their organisation provides only limited access to the latest technology including devices in their workplace. 45 percent of both groups agree that access to new devices can boost employee satisfaction and engagement at work. In addition, research clearly reveals that the key to alleviating pressures in the manufacturing sector is clearer communication from immediate supervisors and company leadership. 42 percent of firstline workers cite streamlined communication as a need.
The launch of new capabilities into Microsoft Teams offer manufacturing workers several ways to improve communication. The update is designed to facilitate streamlined communication and collaboration between firstline workers and business managers. Shifts is a new feature that enables business managers to create schedules and employees to request time off and swap shifts. Also, manufacturing workers will have access to Microsoft Teams through a mobile app which will give them access to to-do lists, rostering and important company-wide announcements.
Microsoft announced these updates with this statement:
“At Microsoft, we recognise the value of having access to the latest technologies including devices as a tool to alleviate workplace pressures. Microsoft’s Surface Go which is now available in Australia, has been purposely designed to improve employee engagement and satisfaction, making it easier for workers to collaborate and communicate. By using tools like the Surface Go, workers have access to Microsoft Teams, improving on the transparency and timeliness for critical communications that supports their work.”
The survey also revealed that 40 percent of firstline workers and 42 percent of business managers reported the need for more access to training as an important key to help alleviate workplace pressure. This need is supported by the launch of on-demand and live events that are available in Microsoft 365. These enable staff to stream and create their own events witch include training sessions in Microsoft Yammer, Teams, or Stream to inform and engage other employees from firstline to management.