Cultural change is the key to a successful digital transformation

Posted on 15 Jun 2018 by Maddy White

Directors in manufacturing have averaged an annual pay increase of 4% over the last five years, but a new survey from CMI suggests those increases have been abruptly halted.

Cultural change, Engineering Workers Skills Talent - Stock
Cultural change will be the key to improving management in manufacturing.

The data indicates managers across manufacturing and other UK sectors are working longer unpaid hours.

Speaking exclusively to The Manufacturer, Petra Wilton, director of strategy for CMI, suggests we need to change the culture in which we work and that UK manufacturing has the technology to increase productivity, but ultimately needs to invest in people and skills to see results.

Wilton said: “I think it is imperative to the UK economy, Brexit or not, that we invest more in the people and skills and getting the right talent.

‘’Fundamentally, we do have a productivity issue across the UK, which is very well known in terms of our gap behind international competitors. What we do see, is that there is a lack of ability to adopt technologies and invest in infrastructure.’’

Managers in sectors across the UK are seeing a pay decrease and are working longer out-of-contract hours, with an average of an extra 44 unpaid days annually.

The impact of these additional days is, resulting in increased stress levels and impacting managers’ mental and physical health; 1 in 10 are reporting they have days off due to mental health issues.

Wilton said this would inevitably ‘’have a knock-on effect on workplace morale and productivity as a result.’’ She added that although Brexit could have an impact on this, it is not a new issue and that the manufacturing sector needs to be post-Brexit “ready”.

“When Brexit hits us and there are issues and shortage of talent, our natural reaction shouldn’t be to just work harder, but we actually need to work smarter, invest in the skills we need, so we don’t have that situation.’’

Part of the reason for the heightened stress levels is the ‘blur’ between professional and leisure time, exacerbated by the pressures organisations are putting on productivity goals.

According to CMI data, nearly 60% of managers across every sector are checking their emails outside of normal working hours.

Wilton said: “We need to look at increasing flexibility and this also plays to the idea of ‘smart’ hours. I think in terms of looking at the pay issue, we need to look at appropriate levels of reward. One of our key areas is that there should be increased transparency, so that your pay does very much need to be linked to performance.”

The data also concluded that 90% of employers experienced difficulties surrounding recruitment over the last year, with the most common reason – experienced in three-quarters of cases – cited as issues in finding key skills in potential employees.

With the increasing digitalisation of manufacturing leading the way to improved productivity, without the skills and investment in people, it is difficult to harness these advancements.

Wilton believes cultural change will be the key to improving management in manufacturing. She said: “Technology is way ahead of us, particularly the digitalisation of manufacturing creates an easier way to do things, but the limitations to adopting that do come back to management and leadership skills and the ability for cultural change to happen.

“Managing cultural change across sometimes much older organisations is a huge challenge which does need that investment in people and skills.’’

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