Skip to content
Read what our customers say
Don't take our word for it. Read what our customers say on Gartner Peer Insights.
Understand the level of flexibility, accessibility, adaptability, and ease of configuration of the AlisQI QMS.

Need to convince stakeholders that you need a QMS? Want to test your quality management maturity?

Discover the power of your total cost of quality - Your guide to getting quality a seat at the table
Read what our customers say

Don't take our word for it. Read what our customers say on Gartner Peer Insights.

Join our 1-hour online demo to get a clear impression of how AlisQI could help you work smarter.
Diana Avram06/20/20245 min read

7 ways to prevent stress & put out the burnout flame in manufacturing

7 ways to prevent stress & put out the burnout flame in manufacturing

"I constantly have to play the bad cop to keep our processes and product safe." If this sounds like your situation, you're unfortunately not the only one. Playing the 'bad cop', not being recognized for your efforts, yet having your name brought up whenever there are problems, are common frustrations among quality professionals. They're also warning signs of a weak Culture of Quality.

On top of this, the manufacturing industry's ever-changing demands add to the strain of heavy workloads and balancing multiple priorities. The quality team needs to adapt fast, optimize processes to meet production quotas, and cope with ever increasing regulatory requirements. In other words, pressure, pressure, pressure. This high-pressure environment can lead to people feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, demotivated, and ultimately burnt out.

During our recent Customer Day, Gerben de Haan mentioned the alarming increase in burnout among quality professionals in manufacturing. This article looks at the far-reaching consequences of burnout and lists 7 ways to prevent stress and build a sustainable workforce.

Manufacturing - one of the top industries under pressure

The risk of burnout exists in all professions with those in manufacturing making no exception. In fact, manufacturing faces some of the highest burnout rates, with multiple studies ranking it in the top 5 industries. Several factors contribute to manufacturing employees feeling burnt out. The most common recognizable symptoms are negativity, fatigue, and a dip in productivity.

Still, burnout looks different from one individual to another, even within the same position or the same industry. For instance, a shopfloor employee can feel drained in a high-paced environment with physically tiring tasks, whereas a quality professional, like the one mentioned above, can feel unfulfilled and less engaged because his peers don't share his quality-first mindset.

No matter the cause, burnout affects both the employees' well-being and the bottom line. Those suffering from it are stressed, tired, and disengaged. Beyond the human cost, there are other inevitable costs. Employees experiencing burnout are more likely to make mistakes, miss deadlines, and take sick leave. These disruptions contribute to decreased productivity and lower quality work.

Another factor that manufacturing organizations need to consider is that burnout affects employee retention. Burnt-out employees are 2.6 times more likely to look for a different job. Replacing them is both costly and time-consuming. Finding new talent, training them, and keeping them happy in their job has also been an ongoing struggle for the manufacturing industry, that is not particularly appealing to the new generation of digitally natives.

How to build a more sustainable workforce

Manufacturing organizations can prevent burnout and maintain a thriving workforce. How? By creating an environment that keeps employees engaged, accommodates their needs, understands their challenges, and finds ways to help them grow. Leadership plays an essential role in this, ensuring the necessary support and compassion. A study by Gallup indicated that employees who feel supported by their managers are 70% less likely to experience burnout. This highlights the importance of supportive management, as it can significantly boost employee well-being and performance.

7 ways to prevent stress in manufacturing

While there is not only one way to do things correctly, here are a few recommendations that will help you prevent stress and fight burnout:

  • Celebrate achievements and consistency - recognition comes in various forms, and it doesn't always have to be monetary. Simple practices such as shout-outs can significantly impact employee morale and make them feel heard, seen, and fulfilled. For instance, the quality professional at the beginning of this story. He needs to be seen as the good cop, celebrated for his achievements of maintaining the highest quality and reinforcing continuous improvement.

  • Put them in control - the feeling of not being in control becomes even more accentuated when dealing with inefficient processes, fragmented information, stressful audits, and lack of insight. Help employees to understand their role, their contributions, but also make it easy for them to voice their concerns. Technology can help with this. A smart quality management system like AlisQI, can ensure easy access to data, alarms that alert of any deviation, and routine tasks replaced by automated ones. A QMS also helps with decision-making and structures communication so that it's most effective.

  • Empower teams to set their own priorities - act on the important, don't react on the urgent. While urgency may alleviate some pressure, choosing to act on the important will bring the best outcomes. It's important that teams align and collaborate to define clear protocols and appropriate actions for emergency situations.

  • Build and nurture a culture that prioritizes well-being - this starts with transparent conversations and understanding the challenges and concerns across teams. It also means looking beyond tasks, production quotas or scheduled meetings for the purpose of better collaboration and mitigating gaps. For instance, taking breaks helps people detach, clear their heads, and be more productive. In contrast, in a company that glorifies overworking and shames downtime, employees could skip breaks and feel increasingly more stressed.

  • Improve onboarding - this means going beyond paperwork. Pair new employees with experienced mentors, provide clear expectations and training, and integrate them into the team from day one. By investing in a supportive onboarding experience, you'll set them up for success and reduce costly turnover. At the same time, it's important to implement training and development for all employees, and encourage periodic employee feedback.

  • Increase support - we've mentioned before that employees who feel supported are 70% less likely to experience burnout. Some ways of doing this are by increasing flexibility regarding schedules (ensuring that these work both for the employee and the company), involving employees in decision-making, making managers available to the rest of the team etc. Having leadership commitment and them communicating consistently strengthens the culture in an organization.

  • Get rid of unhelpful technology - while technology has been a game-changer for the manufacturing industry, it's always important to not get blinded by shiny new toys. A study by Deloitte indicated that digital fatigue and switching between apps to perform tasks can lead to distraction, anxiety, and burnout. How to prevent this? Only use tech that makes sense and addresses the needs of your factory. When choosing QMS software, you could for instance, leverage an integrated platform for QC/QA/ESH rather than multiple systems.

Burnout is one of the worries and most discussed topics in manufacturing these days. Yet, burnout can be prevented. Find out more about AlisQI and the role of a smart QMS in creating an efficient and sustainable workforce - book a demo today.


Diana Avram

Marketing & Media