A Lesson on Workplace Violence Prevention in Manufacturing

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#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for March 26, 2020

Prevention must create an environment where the workforce feels a part of the solution. – FelixNater

This week, Felix Nater (@FelixNater) guest hosted the #USAMfgHour Twitter chat and focused on educating participants about workplace violence prevention, a very important topic for today’s manufacturing community.

After introductions, Felix asked participants whether they have a workplace violence prevention policy or plan in place. Several participants stated that they do have plans in place, but that they either haven’t been tested frequently or reinforced with employees consistently.  Felix responded by saying that handbooks are helpful as long as they enable the workforce to understand what their roles are. Companies should continuously promote prevention and situational awareness.  

When asked whether there has been training for staff on workplace violence prevention policies, most of the participants, sadly, said there hasn’t been.  Felix responded by saying that an experience-centered, education-based expertise approach helps greatly when it comes to training employees.  

Overall, Felix taught that training on and communicating workplace violence policies are pieces of a comprehensive plan, which also includes physical security, access control, visitor management, supervision, leadership, and technology. Additionally, having an established reporting system in place that employees trust and feel confident in their confidentiality and eventual security is essential since the lack of trust and confidence in reporting is a huge inhibitor. If an employee suspects that disciplinary action may be the outcome rather than the desire to resolve their observations, they will not report their co-worker’s behavior. They want to help not incriminate.

Are company employees aware of or familiar with the importance of warning signs and risk factors and how they apply to prevention?  He asked because most employees are unable to connect the dots. They do not know what to look for, don’t know how to assess their observation and don’t recognize aggression in connection with their observations. Merely showing warning signs is not an indication to violence.  Is your company adequately prepared to address the at-risk employee and/or situation internally in preventing escalation? 

Finally, Felix asked whether particpant’s workforces are adequately trained in active shooter immediate protective measures to reduce risk, avoid the shooter and understand the police response and police role during the threat?  Felix asked these questions because, while the “free local police training” is helpful, it suggests that the organization has met its fiduciary responsibility when in actuality it has only begun. And, while the focus is always on the employee threat there are other categories of workplace violence not often discussed that companies need to address and communicate.

Want to learn more about workplace violence preparedness? If so visit Felix’ blog for many excellent resources on the subject. 

On April 2, 2020, Jennifer Wegman of Service Caster (@SERVICECASTER) will be leading a discussion on generational issues in the workplace.  We hope you can join us! In the meantime, go follow @FelixNater on Twitter for workplace violence prevention and preparation content.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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How are Manufacturers Dealing with Coronavirus?


#USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for March 19, 2020

Jennifer Ratcliff of Manufacturer’s News, Inc. (@MfrsNews) was supposed to discuss sales and business development at this week’s #USAMfgHour chat, however, she opted, instead, to focus on a much more timely topic right now:  Coronavirus.

After introductions, we jumped into the chat with Jennifer asking what impact participants have been seeing on their marketing, sales, and business development efforts.  @NJ_MEP said, “We’re seeing a massive impact. New Jersey manufacturers are turning to us for support in this confusing time, and we welcome it. However, most of our normal services have been put on hold and nearly all resources have been shifted to provide #COVID19 support.”  Others indicated that they have seen a small slow down in sales and business development.

Next, Jennifer asked how the Coronavirus is impacting the way participating companies are communicating with customers.  @SpecialTaps said, “More phone, more email, more SM, just less face to face,” which turned out to be the general consensus among respondents.  Facilities have been closed to outside visitors and staff that doesn’t need to be on site have shifted to remote work. Staff members who are on site are following the CDC’s precautionary guidelines. 

Are you seeing a shift in demand for your products or services?  Responses to this question varied. Some participants said everything is normal while others have seen a slight increase based on the products they sell or a decrease due to uncertainty.  @CVTPlastics said, “I am trying to present and update our customers that we are still moving forward as normal. I think it needs to be stated and restated,” a sentiment that was seconded by @NesbitMarketing and several other participants.

When asked what changes they are making to adapt to social distancing on the production floor, warehouse or office, those who responded had a wide array of answers. @SpaceGuard said it has adjusted workstations on the factory floor, added temporary ones, and encouraged more frequent hand washing.  Others have taken similar actions and also included more frequent cleaning and sanitizing of office and production spaces.

Few participants are looking to increase production or adapt product lines to meet the specific demands brought on by Coronavirus, as many of the companies who responded have long lead times on their custom products.  The few that do have quicker turnaround are playing it by ear.

In the closing question, Jennifer asked, “What sorts of tools and resources is your business exploring to help keep up operations at this time?” @UNEX stated it is currently relying on remote communication tools.  Other companies aren’t necessarily looking for anything new. Instead, they are focused on delivering timely communications with their customers and employees.  

Overall, the consensus was that manufacturers are doing what they can to protect their employees during the pandemic while also fulfilling customer orders as timely as possible.

Before ending the chat, Jennifer mentioned Manufacturing News’ industrial solutions, including IndustrySelect for sales, prospecting & business development and IndustryNet for FREE supplier discovery, purchasing & sourcing.

On March 26, 2020, Felix Nater (@FelixNater) will be discussing workplace violence prevention for manufacturers.  We hope you can join us! In the meantime, go follow @MFGTalkRadio on Twitter for great manufacturing-based content.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @CVTPlastics @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER.  Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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How Can Manufacturers Develop Their Brands?

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USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for March 12, 2020

“With the onset of social media and various new marketing tools available for manufacturing companies, it is imperative in this digital age that businesses utilize at least some of these options to improve brand awareness.”

– @MFGTalk Radio

This week, Chris Giglio of Manufacturing Talk Radio (@MFGTalkRadio) hosted a #USAMfgHour chat about brand development for manufacturing companies, and, after brief introductions by participants, he asked what tools and services they are using to increase their brand awareness. Top answers included social media platforms, PPC, digital and traditional advertising, videos, podcasting, trade shows, hosted events, branded materials, blogging, and newsletters. @NJMEP said that Google Alerts are great for reputation monitoring and @amatrol mentioned using SEMRush as a scheduler and tool for monitoring SEO and other metrics. [Other scheduler options: Hootsuite, AgoraPulse, Sprout Social, Meet Edgar, Strawberry Social, Social Bee, Later, and Planoly.]

Next, Chris asked what tools have been most and least successful for participants. LinkedIn was a popular response among B2B companies; however, it was emphasized that using the platform to connect and develop relationships was imperative to successful growth. Others did well on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, depending on their target audiences. Trade shows, PPC, webinars, press releases, and word-of-mouth referrals rounded out the responses.

Blogging was the topic of the third question. Chris said that staying consistent with a blog is an excellent way to boost SEO and sell products at the same time. Do participants blog? What do they blog about? Many of the participants mentioned that they do indeed blog about their products, services, and industry-related topics in order to help raise their brand awareness. The main reason people didn’t blog was lack of time to do so consistently. But did you know that you can easily repurpose your social media content into blogs and vice versa?

Next up was YouTube. How have participants found success there? Several of the participants mentioned they are either on the platform currently or plan to launch this year. Examples of content include facility tours, behind the scenes content, and product information. Chris said that YouTube is a great place to host your videos and post them on a blog/website, too.

What is the most challenging aspect of brand development for manufacturers?
@LiftWisco said, “…knowing who the actual buyer is and the best way to market to them. If you sell to companies, the decision maker and buyer can be two different people.”
@CVTPlastics said, “Our answer is, catching up. We have survived and thrived on word of mouth for many many years. We are building a broader brand now and that is going to take time to get established.”
@FSCabinetDoors said, “Typically, manufacturing and marketing educations are two vastly different worlds. When I was brought in w/ a mktg degree, I knew zero about cabinet door mfg. I’ve had to learn all the lingo and how to target customers in our industry.”
@NJMEP said, “Many manufacturing companies throughout the United States are small to medium sized companies. It can be difficult for these organizations to focus on brand development when they’re busy running a business.”
@BearPlumbing said, “It’s hard to keep up with the ever changing world in which we can reach people. What’s the newest platform? What’s outdated? While we want to let our quality work speak for itself, we need to be an active member of our community, while donating time & money to enrich people.”
@cdmcmachine said, “Finding the right balance between informing peeps on our machines and services and providing interesting #industry content. You want to push what you do but you don’t want to become blah, blah, blah”
@amatrol mentioned, “We’re pretty niche, and it’s tough to get in front of new customers sometimes. We take a multifaceted approach to make it work, and it does. But with everything else, you always want to make it work better.”
@SERVICECASTER said, “Brutal honesty here? Making casters and wheels interesting. Either you need them or you don’t. It’s not really an emotional purchase. So, we do what we can to make it fun.”

What’s your biggest brand development challenge?

Chris closed out the chat by asking participants to tag manufacturing companies who are great examples for proper brand development techniques. Companies tagged included: @NWolterHMmfg @NJMEP @FelixNater @DCSCInc @SERVICECASTER @USAMfgHourChat @NestbitMarketing @NJMEP @GraphicProducts @Volt_Protector @americorpusa @SpaceGuard @amatrol @BearPlumbing @NJ_BAC @dpistulka @SpecialTaps @FSCabinetDoors @witzshared @BillGarlandSpkr @LiftWisco @bigassfans @mfgdotnet @MFGTalkRadio @FasternerNews @HudsonFasteners @KnottsCompany @Thorlabs @FelixNater @BuyDirectUSA @neilpatel @Mnetnews @HooperHandling @amatrol @SecoToolsUS @burleyfires @AxisNJ @GroverPrecision @MakingChips @IEN_Now @DuraTechUS

Who else would you recommend?

On March 19, 2020, Jennifer Ratcliff of @MfrsNews will discuss sales resources and business development in manufacturing. We hope you can join us! In the meantime, go follow @MFGTalkRadio on Twitter for great manufacturing-based content.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @CVTPlastics @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER. Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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A Discussion on Leadership and Work-Life Balance

Work life (work-life) balance concept.

USAMfgHour Twitter Chat Recap for March 5, 2020

This week, Jennifer Wegman of Service Caster Corporation (@SERVICECASTER) hosted a #USAMfgHour chat about leadership and work-life balance on behalf of Bill Garland (@BillGarlandSpkr), who had a last minute conflict and couldn’t appear live.

After brief introductions by participants, several of whom were new to the chat, we were off and running. The first item on Bill’s agenda was morning routines that prepare yourself mentally for the day ahead. Not surprisingly, coffee was a popular response. Other responses included journaling, meditating, taking a walk, spending time with family or pets, and early workouts. @AxisNJ said, “I usually take a few minutes to plan the day ahead, and look forward with a positive attitude!,” which was a sentiment seconded by many of the respondents.

Bill’s second question asked participants what they like to do for fun outside of work that helps keep them going. Hiking, gardening, landscaping, exercising, traveling, crafting, woodworking, reading, writing, meditating, golfing and other sports, baking, kayaking, and photography were just some of the activities mentioned. @DuraTechUS added, “We have a wellness program here at DuraTech that helps employees find those healthy hobbies and activities, as well as life work balance.” When asked about the level of employee engagement, Duratech responded with, “It is really nice and we have a very high amount of engagement. We have a committee of employees that help plan a monthly calendar of wellness activities and an annual wellness fair.” [Who else wants a chat dedicated to employee wellness programs now?!]

Next, we talked about the demands of leadership and how challenges can arise at any moment. Bill asked participants how they keep their emotions in check in those moments. “Taking a breath” was the most popular response by far, preceded by pausing before responding and followed by walking away to pull yourself together if necessary. @SpecialTaps said, “Philosophically, I don’t believe there is any room for anger in the workplace. We are #WorkingTogether, and therefore are on the same team. Attack the issues, not each other.” And, @AxisNJ added, I’m pleased to say people around here keep cool heads. I think we all exhibit mutual respect and keep an understanding of circumstances in mind.” Others suggested assessing the situation before responding, adjusting your own attitude, having patience, and venting to a trusted colleague as potential options. However, @GroverPrecision emphasized the importance of communication in these situations. “Immediate communication saves confusion, which saves stress.”

At the halfway point of the chat, @SERVICECASTER added a mini question about what leadership means to the #USAMfgHour participants and got some great responses, including being a progressive part of team success (@torres_inklings), sharing ideas with others on the team (@FSCabinetDoors), building the team through communication (@CVTPlastics), leading by example (@SpecialTaps), and giving your all and but also relying on your excellent team to get the job done (@DCSCInc)

Our next question asked about mentors. Do participants have them? @BigelowBethany said, “I feel like many of you on here are my mentors. I’ve learned a lot from you all.,” which got a virtual standing ovation from other participants, who extolled the virtues of creating a supportive network through personal interaction, whether online or in person. While some participants have had mentors throughout their careers, several said that they’ve found that “seasonal” mentors often appear just when they need them. A few people mentioned that they also do what they can to give back by being mentors themselves.

Next on Bill’s agenda for the day: STRESS. How do participants manage their stress? Embracing self-care through time with family, exercising, volunteering, etc. was recommended for stress-busting, as well as short breaks, meditation, fresh air, listening to uplifting music, laughing, talking to colleagues, and petting office pets. Setting boundaries between work and personal time was popular, which included leaving the office at the office rather than taking it home with you.

So, what are our participant’s recommendations for achieving work-life balance?

@NesbitMarketing – Get enough rest.
@SpecialTaps – Spend time with the people who matter to you
@CVTPlastics – Prioritize what’s important and block out the time for those things and then fill in the rest as you go
@DuraTechUS – Just do it. Create it. Demand it in your life.
@SocialSMktg – Manage your goals by prioritizing tasks to help you reach them and spend a little time on each day on it
@FSCabinetDoors – Use your PTO because it’s there for a reason
@Torres_Inklings – Learn to say no to unimportant tasks
@PowerDrivesPDI – Set personal boundaries
@IEN_Now – Go home when your shift is over
@MezzGate – Find the outlet that works for you and use it everyday

To close, @SERVICECASTER shared a quote by Marissa Meyer, former Yahoo! CEO, that said burnout is about resentment and that you beat it by knowing what it is you’re giving up that makes you resentful and then protecting it.

On March 12, 2020, Chris Giglio, the social media manager of Manufacturing Talk Radio (@MFGTalkRadio) will host a chat on brand development for manufacturing companies. We hope you can join us! In the meantime, go follow @BillGarlandSpkr on Twitter for more leadership tips.

The #USAMfgHour chat is founded by @DCSCInc @BIllGarlandSpkr @CVTPlastics @witzshared and @SERVICECASTER. Be sure to follow the official account for chat highlights, recaps, and information at @USAMfgHourChat and visit us on other platforms to keep in touch between chats.

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