Want to Bolster Your Shop Floor Culture? Focus on the Big Picture

Among the hustle and bustle of everyday production, sometimes it’s easy to forget how critical personal communication, interaction and camaraderie are to our industry. To that end, it’s important not to sideline the role that organizational culture plays in a company’s ability to remain resilient—under all kinds of market conditions.

For commercial glass shops, much of that starts on the shop floor. So, how should we think about culture, and where does it begin?

Research shows that finding an employee’s personal connection to the work is one of the biggest difficulties organizational leadership faces when seeking to enhance workplace culture. When workers recognize their own unique contribution to their employer’s larger goals, organizational purpose becomes personal. Workers want to feel good about doing their best work—and they feel even better when they believe it’s contributing to a part of something bigger than themselves.

So, what are the big-picture ways we can use to inspire personal purpose? Speaking from my own experience, there are many reasons why I believe the work our industry does is important. That’s why I take it personally.

For example, commercial buildings use up about 40% of all energy produced in the U.S. That is a stark figure and a prime target for large-scale reduction of energy consumption. High-performance glass and glazing are an essential part of the equation, delivering outstanding thermal performance with the right technology while simultaneously contributing supplemental occupancy benefits like views, daylighting and more. Developing products that meet tomorrow’s demands results from thousands of people, from the shop floor to glazing contractors to the boardroom and everyone in between.

I have spent years working with and learning from colleagues with similar mindsets, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had access to the tools and opportunities required to make an impact. The simple truth is that people want to feel that they are contributing and making a difference and that they’re a part of something bigger than their individual job function.

So, ask yourself: Has your organization established a clear purpose? Have you made the necessary efforts to connect your employees to it?

Just as importantly, opening up opportunities for your employees to excel and do what they do best is critical. This is especially important amid our ongoing collective struggle with recruitment and retention. Training opportunities for current staff and new recruits can be effective. Glass manufacturing floor workers, for instance, will be better able to perform their jobs effectively and successfully if we can provide them with the knowledge to do so. Further, helping employees understand why certain job functions must be performed in a certain way can help better connect them to the work.

To be successful, workers need the opportunity and the tools to be their best selves within their roles. This includes a clear purpose for why what they do every day truly matters. Organizational culture will follow from there, no matter the challenges you face today and tomorrow.

Joe Erb is national account manager with Quanex Building Products.