Engagement - Surveys, Well-Being Initiatives, Conflict Resolution, Rewards & Recognition

An engaging culture is created when a business establishes a shared sense of purpose and sets clear expectations regarding employee behavior.  This is particularly important in the manufacturing sector, as building a strong safety culture plays a pivotal role to attracting and retaining employees and achieving business goals.  Incorporating a change in culture requires a business to first look at what factors currently drives employee behaviour and where they need to be in order to successfully attain new purpose and business goals.  Surveys provide insight into employees’ experience of the workplace and can lead to the implementation of effective and supportive well-being initiatives.  Supportive management practices and conflict resolution training can also benefit the overall experience of employees and lead to further engagement and retention.


Seeking direct feedback from employees is the most effective way of improving the culture in the workplace.  Conducting an employee survey will establish an understanding on what the business is currently doing well and how employees’ feel supported.  Many employers, however, fail to benefit from the insights they learn from a survey; they do not communicate the results and are not transparent in how they will address the issues raised.  An employer should ask with the commitment to act on the results.

The following are examples of some typical questions on an employee survey. Answers are generally marked on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) scale and may include:

  • Do I understand the organization’s vision and values?
  • Do I share the same values as leadership?
  • Do I feel welcomed and appreciated in my organization?
  • Do I have too much work on my plate?
  • Do I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts with leadership?
  • Do I feel respected in my organization?
  • Do I understand how my work affects the organization’s business goals?
  • Do I have a safe working environment?
  • Does our company adhere to a zero-tolerance policy against harassment and discrimination?
  • Do I have the tools and equipment to perform my job effectively?

HR's Role

HR would oversee administration and distribution of the survey to all employees and subsequently report the results to senior leaders, along with recommendations and ideas on how to address any issues identified.  HR would also communicate to employees the results and the commitment of the business to agreed upon solutions.

Well-Being Initiatives

As a result of the pandemic, well-being initiatives have come to the forefront for most businesses, including in the manufacturing sector.  Historically these types of initiatives focused on physical health, particularly in jobs requiring physical demands like lifting, repetitive motions, or standing for long periods of time.  These types of initiatives would usually fall under the Health and Safety program of a business, with supports in the area of ergonomics or proper lifting procedures as examples.  Since the pandemic and the elevation of discussions around mental health , employers are now challenged with providing support to their employees with regard to burnout, work-life balance and psychological safety in the workplace.  This can be a challenging new reality for employers and HR can provide guidance on discovering and understanding the needs of employees and providing creative solutions and initiatives in this area.

Offering meaningful resources to employees, engaging in good management practices, providing fair and equitable compensation, and supporting mental health initiatives are some of the best measures an employer could implement as well-being initiatives in the workplace.  Aligning efforts with the feedback gained from an employee survey would ensure that the specific measures or solutions that are implemented are the right ones. Keeping the initiatives simple and reflective of the needs of employees will provide the best return on investment.

These are only a few of the options of some well-being initiatives to consider:

  • Comprehensive benefits program that includes an Employee Assistance Program
  • Providing discounted gym memberships
  • Encouraging employees to go for health screenings
  • Running awareness workshops or talks  (i.e. nutrition, stress management, smoking cessation, etc)
  • Making counselling and mental health support services available to employees.  
  • If you have on-site food facilities, you can ensure that there are plenty of fruit, vegetable and healthy meal options.

HR's Role

HR would have a central role in developing and implementing well-being strategies that are targeted to the needs of the employees and provide the best possible return on investment for the business.  HR would also ensure that initiatives are sensitive to cultural differences and are accessible to all employees regardless of language requirements.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict between employees can happen at any time and there are many underlining reasons for it.  Poor communication and gossip, personality clashes, different work styles or priorities and unhealthy competition can foster low morale and lead to low productivity.  An employer should promote effective and constructive strategies in problem solving, encourage collaboration and innovation and establish respectful behavioural expectations of all employees.

When conflict in the workplace does arise however, the following are some strategies to use:

  • Be aware that conflict is a normal occurrence and can lead to increased engagement when managed effectively.
  • Be proactive and consider how to address difficult issues before they escalate to conflict.
  • Have policies in the Employee Handbook that addresses conflict resolution and sets out expectations for respectful behaviour.
  • Provide clear avenues for discussion as most employees want to feel listened to.
  • Provide coaching or a facilitated discussion to actively address the conflict in a timely manner.
  • Outline consequences that may come into play should the conflict persist. If established standards are not met, it could lead to disciplinary action.

HR's Role

HR would be involved in all stages of the conflict resolution process.  Designing an effective policy, ensuring it is reviewed during the Onboarding process, facilitating discussions or one-on-one coaching and documenting the conflict, the discussion and the resolution for the employee files of all concerned.  HR would also identify training options for supervisors and managers in facilitating effective discussions with their team.

Rewards and Recognition

One of the many HR initiatives that can strengthen a company culture is an effective Rewards and Recognition program.  Rewards, both monetary and non-monetary, provide employees a pat on the back for a job well done.  They are typically tangible incentives such a bonuses, gift cards, or extra time off.  Employee recognition is the act of acknowledging and appreciating an employee’s efforts and contributions and should be done in a meaningful and public way to see any benefit.  Formal recognition would come in the form of awards, promotions or opportunities for advancement,  informal recognition would involve feedback from a team member or a customer.  A Rewards and Recognition program that equips Supervisors and Managers with the opportunity to reward in multiple ways will have a significant impact on employee morale and engagement.

Employees are motivated by meaningful employee experiences and the following list provides some ideas on when to say thank you. 

  • Meeting or exceeding performance goals is a standard achievement that employees are recognized for.
  • Teambuilding or collaboration skills reinforce the importance of working together towards to meet business or production goals. Recognition can be given to an individual employee or to the team.
  • Problem-solving or “thinking outside the box” encourages innovation and creativity and may be undervalued but still meaningful in a manufacturing workplace.
  • Going above and beyond in their duties or responsibilities can be important in a workplace that has challenges maintaining full employment and requires the team to consistently fill the gap.
  • Consistently demonstrating the company’s core values such as a living a safety culture, another key skill in a manufacturing workplace.

Delivering effective rewards or recognition should reflect the business’ values, goals and objectives.  Recognize employees for work that is meaningful to them and to the business.  Personalize the reward and share it in a public manner within the workplace.  If applicable, use technology to further distribute the recognition.  Employee of the Month, Service Awards, Safety Goals, Peer nominations, personalized notes from senior managers are some of the specific options that have proven to be effective.  When delivered respectfully, and consistently, rewards and recognition has proven to be an important driver of employee engagement and productivity. 

HR's Role

Although Rewards and Recognition initiatives are best delivered by senior leaders, HR should help coordinate the process and update or document any rewards or recognition given in the employee file.  HR can also provide guidance on new initiatives and take the lead on implementation.