Employee roundtable at Magna Mirrors Auteca
Comfy Shoes, Coffee Talks
and Cutting-Edge Training
The Magna divisions that rise to the top of the ranks in the Employee Opinion Survey (EOS) have different ways of keeping their people happy, everything from birthday cards signed by the general manager to classes that prepare them for next-generation manufacturing.
Here are the EOS secrets of success from Magna divisions in China, Europe and North America:
Giving Employees a Voice
Fostering a positive culture at Magna’s Plastcoat Industries in Brampton, Ontario starts with simple things.
Team rooms are covered with blown-up pictures of employees’ faces representing 34 nationalities and the facility’s slogan: “We are Plastcoat.” Sliding glass doors between the front office and the shop floor literally break down barriers, and further unite management and workers.
“Pride boards” boost employee engagement and serve as physical reminders of the progress being made in terms of health, safety and quality concerns.
Monthly coffee chats center on business, but also celebrate birthdays. There is always a cake and birthday cards, with personal notes written by Victor Liu, the plant’s general manager.
New launches at the injection-molding facility, which makes a variety of products from active grille shutters to grille opening reinforcements, are successful because the management team heads out to the shop floor and is trained for the job alongside Plastcoat’s 450 employees.
“We go into the work cells and ask ‘is this going to be a reasonable expectation for the employee?’” said Sarah Booth, Plastcoat human resources manager. “The employees explain the task to the managers, and they take a turn doing it. It gets a little competitive, but everyone enjoys it.
Employee photos at Plastcoat.
“We all can see the challenges. But what’s really important is getting the management team out there with the employees to live and breathe what they go through. We’ve had successful, seamless launches because of that.”
Training is another reason that Plastcoat employees, especially new ones, report a high level of satisfaction in Magna Employee Opinion Surveys.
“Since 2015, we’ve completed more than 100 workshops where our shop-floor employees learn the fundamentals of lean and world-class manufacturing,” said Liu. “We take five to 10 employees from different areas, and they attend a three- to-five-day workshop and apply what they’ve learned to a project. Then, they deliver a report at the end of the week.”
He adds: “You wouldn’t believe how powerful this is. They have a voice. One employee said, ‘this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to speak and have management listen to me.”
Employees who successfully complete the workshops earn a certificate and a special t-shirt.
You wouldn’t believe how powerful
this is. They have a voice. One employee
said, ‘this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to speak and have management listen to me.
Through another process called “mind mapping”, employees are involved in Plastcoat’s business planning.
Priorities and strategic goals are posted on large sheets of paper. Employees are asked to write comments about them on yellow Post-it Notes and attach them to the paper. A week later, everyone reviews the comments and then sticks green dots to the ideas they like.
“Each employee is given a voice as to the direction of the company,” Booth explained. “We want to make sure we are focusing on what they feel is important.”
Reinvesting in employees and having a facility that is always clean and orderly have always been priorities for Plastcoat’s general manager. This past June, Liu, Booth and other managers went out to the shop floor and picked the “oiliest, dirtiest machine” to bring it up to optimal workplace conditions.
Then they put on hazmat suits and got to work.
“Our employees get a big kick out of seeing the management team get down on their knees to clean the machines,” Liu said. “We identify leaks, sweep up resin pellets and put the machines back in top order.”
“It sets the expectation that this is how we want every machine to look. And, if the management team is willing to do it, there’s no reason why others wouldn’t sign up to do it.”
Victor Liu, Plastcoat general manager (center)
with Kaizen Workshop participants.