Peak production season can be a nightmare. It's the time you need all employees to show up consistently and pull their weight. But reality is often far removed from the ideal.
If that's the case in your plant, you need to consider some strategies to build resilience into your staffing. Here are six tips that can help ease the strain of production peaks:
Cross-train. Teach employees to perform various jobs. Cross-training not only ensures coverage when it's needed, it boosts job satisfaction because staff members feel challenged. Have higher-level employees mentor trainees until they get up to speed.
Offer incentives. Motivate the performance you want, but don't overuse incentives. They're ideal for addressing short-term attendance issues. Offer something in return for perfect attendance -- being at work on time every day, with no doctor's appointments or sick days. One company that goes into mandatory overtime during peak production gives employees gift certificates for dinner and a movie for two month's perfect attendance. And at the end of the time period, the names of all the people who had perfect attendance are entered into a drawing with the prize being a Saturday off with regular pay.
Hire temps. You can find good temporary help through staffing agencies. This strategy can be especially powerful if combined with cross-training. For example, full-time pickers who have been cross-trained can run machines or work in receiving while temps do picking. Work with two or three agencies so that you're not dependent on just one.
Shift into overtime if necessary. Most employees welcome the extra income from overtime. On a limited basis, overtime may be no more costly than temporary labor when you factor in training expenses.
Seek referrals. Ask employees to refer friends and relatives. Some companies avoid hiring employees' friends and relatives, even for temporary positions, but they can be a source of reliable help.
Tap academia. Technical colleges or universities are often a good source for supervisory help. If your peak production times are predictable, you can arrange to hire management or logistics students as interns to assist supervisors.
Any way you look at it, gearing up for peak production in advance saves your company money, time, hassles and missed deadlines. And those advantages go to your bottom line.
In Your Handbook
Stress the importance of good attendance and punctuality in your employee handbook. Spell out that unexcused absences can result in disciplinary action or even dismissal.
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