Making Manufacturing Work Better

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Do you like your job? What does your company make, and what do they do to make you happy? Those are important questions, for we spend more of our time working than doing anything else. That’s true at Internet-related companies like Google and at multinational manufacturers like W.L. Gore. It’s also a fact of life at small-to-medium business (SMBs) across New York State. But is working at Google really comparable to working at Gore, or at any of the many small-to-medium manufacturers in the Empire State?
Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of People Operations and author of Work Rules!, believes that all employers – regardless of industry – can make work a better place for their employees. Google’s status as America’s best company to work for offers Bock a platform, but he’s careful to note that “anyone can replicate this approach,” and credits companies like Gore that “put people first”. Building a better workplace isn’t just good for employees either. Studies show that happier workers are more productive – including in manufacturing.
In a slideshare presentation based on Work Rules!, Bock shows how one of Google’s values – “trust your people” – is a win/win for both employers and employees at a garment factory in Mexico. MIT’s Richard Locke compared two plants there, and reported that the factory where workers had “more freedom” had higher wages and lower costs than the factory where workers were “tightly controlled”. Bock also shows how another of Google’s principles – “be frugal and generous” – is used to support textile workers in Sri Lanka.
Bock’s list of “work rules” or principles is extensive, but ultimately he maintains that a happy, productive workplace begins with a company’s “culture”. Working at Google may conjure up images of lava lamps and bean bags, but “culture” at the Silicon Valley giant rests on a more solid foundation: finding a compelling mission, being transparent, and giving employees a voice.
So do you like your manufacturing job? And how does your company’s culture affect operations? Laszlo Bock’s “work rules” apply to large companies like Google and Gore, and to overseas operations in Mexico and Sri Lanka. But can they make manufacturing work better in New York State, too?

Photo Credit: © Rawpixel/Dollar Photo Club


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