Marlin's Workplace Communications Blog. Current human resources topics like safety, quality and health. Digital signage and communications technology. The Marlin Company offers turnkey Workplace Digital Signage Systems, Electronic Bulletin Boards and Digital Signage Content Management Software.
The warehouse industry is booming. The economy is growing, manufacturing is strong, and there is a seemingly endless appetite for online commerce. New warehouses are being built to support the need and companies are adopting new technologies to drive productivity and remain competitive. There has been much talk about the “science of logistics” with ever-new technologies improving productivity in the supply chain. But what about the people side of logistics?
According to Inbound Logistics, labor constitutes 65% of the operating budgets of most warehouses. To maintain an efficient warehouse, employers need to recruit, train, motivate and retain good employees. Communication is a critical aspect of making that happen. Most warehouse workers are not at a desk or near a computer, making it challenging to reach them. Digital signage offers a popular solution for visual communication.
10 Reasons Why Warehouses Love Digital Signage
Informing Workers on All Shifts
Digital signage is a very effective platform for communicating with workers who are not at desks. Whether they are stocking shelves, driving a forklift, or picking and packing, they need to be informed on company updates, schedules, benefit information, etc. This is particularly critical for shift workers who often feel disconnected.
Keeping Everyone Safe
Create a culture of safety awareness by visually communicating how to avoid forklift accidents, slips, trips and falls, pallet rack collapses, and other common warehouse accidents. Incorporate a mix of video, safety don’ts, infographics, and pictures of your own facility and people.
Retaining Great Employees
Employee retention is directly tied to engagement. Employees feel valued when they are recognized and are more likely to stay in a job where there is room for growth. Use your electronic message boards to celebrate work anniversaries and milestones. Show your company’s commitment to training and development by recognizing individuals and teams for obtaining certifications and training. Announce promotions and showcase special projects.
Promoting Health & Wellness
Healthy employees are happier and more productive. By providing helpful tips on eating habits, exercise, stress reduction and emotional support, you’ll let them know that you care about their well-being. Use your digital bulletin board to remind them that support is also available through your Employee Assistance Program,
Improving Performance with Data Visualization
Eliminate whiteboards and manual updates for Key Performance Indicators. Improve productivity by displaying real-time performance data on dedicated digital signage screens in the warehouse. Use simple charts and graphs that employees will quickly understand. Be sure to also include company-wide KPIs in your content rotation for those screens in common areas such as cafeterias and breakrooms.
Generate excitement and pride by “marketing” your in-house initiatives on your digital signage screens. Whether it’s safety, customer, service or health & wellness, announce the program parameters and celebrate the winners.
Recruiting New Employees
Current employees are a great source for recruiting new workers. Post job openings on your electronic message boards and promote your employee referral program if you have one. Start new employees off right by posting welcome messages on your screens. Show a picture, announce their job role and wish them luck. They’ll feel good and it’ll help your employees recognize a new face.
Extend your training efforts by using your electronic message boards to post daily tidbits reinforcing new procedures or policies. Post short video clips with dos and don’ts. Use PowerPoint for Q&A to reinforce key takeaways.
Meeting Language Challenges
Visual communication can bridge language barriers. By using video, infographics, pictures and graphs, you’ll engage more workers. Digital signage offers flexibility for accommodating multiple languages. Content can be alternated in rotation (e.g., English/Spanish). When multiple content frames are available, you can dedicate one frame to content in a second language.
Targeting the Message
Digital signage is a great way to get the right messages to the right employees at the right location. When figuring out how many screens you’ll need, consider the audience. Screens in cafeterias and breakrooms should provide content that applies to all employees, including those in the office (e.g., company announcements, benefits, in-house initiatives, etc.) On the warehouse floor you may have screens that focus more heavily safety and KPIs.
Hot to Get Digital Signage in Your Warehouse
It’s easy to see how digital signage has become a widely accepted form of communication in the warehouse. It is effective, reliable, offers the flexibility to meet the unique needs of your operation, and employee’s will love the accessibility. Click here to learn more about deploying digital signage in your warehouse.
You spend weeks, months, possibly years developing your company logo so that it clearly defines your brand. But have you given as much thought to the font you use for corporate communication?
Typography—the style and appearance of words—matters.
Words literally swirl all around us, from TV commercials to roadside billboards to the digital menus now appearing at most fast food chains. And just like the images that are used in those mediums, text color, size, weight and font all make a difference.
Think of it this way: If you receive an email in purple Comic Sans 14-point font, are you going to take it as seriously as one written in black Times New Roman 11-point font? Probably not.
It’s a concept that modern brands understand well.
Typeface (a family of related fonts) not only helps convey what your message is about, but who you are as a company.
Netflix’s New Typography
Netflix made waves when it unveiled its own typography, Netflix Sans, in March of this year. The font was designed in-house, and appears on all original show titles as well as branding and marketing materials. The reason was twofold: To save millions in licensing (fonts are not free!), but more importantly, to impart brand identity across business verticals.
Other companies caught on quickly.
Arby’s Gets Saucy with Their New Font
Arby’s put a playful twist on the concept last month when it debuted Saucy AF, a “calligraphy” style font drawn with Arby’s Sauce. It’s a deceptively powerful branding tool masquerading in ketchupy fun.
Airbnb Typeface Increases Readability
Within the same week, Airbnb launched Cereal, a custom sans-serif typeface, with the goal of increasing readability and creating a seamless experience between digital and print platforms. The latter part of that sentence is particularly important. The separation between “real life” (print) and “online” (digital), is becoming more blurred—and dated—by the day. Cereal would allow the brand to, according to the company, “leap from button to billboard.”
What Typography Has To Do With Marlin
It’s a message that impacts us daily at Marlin. In crafting content, our in-house team must always visualize who our customers are, where the messages will play, and the diverse internal audiences watching it. Typography can radically alter the mood of a piece, and when done right, it quietly yet effortlessly pulls the whole idea together. A great example of this is our recent primer on swim safety for summer. Here, we let the word “Swimming” do the heavy lifting, echoing the water and signaling “summer” with a engaging Myriad Pro Bold font. It’s a graphic and eye-catching way to set the stage for what’s to come: Important safety messaging.
Start Improving Your Company Image Today
Now that typeface has formally jumped into the marketing spotlight, it’s time to take font matters into your own hands. You can design your own bespoke font with Fontself or FontCandy, customize existing fonts using FontLab, use WhatFont to uncover which font a website is using, or discover myriad new typeface options on WhatTheFont.
What font does your business use? Why? Tell us @themarlinco using #FontLove.
This spring our company conducted The Marlin Workplace Survey, conducted by Qualtrics and co-authored by Marlin and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. The survey polled 1,048 full- and part-time American workers from March 2 – March 6, 2018 on current workplace issues which ranged from active shooter events to employee-employer communication. One area we focused on was trust.
Trust is one of those things that is hard to earn and easy to lose. Most managers I know work hard to get it because they know the benefits that come along with it. One key way of doing it, backed up by our survey results, is through regular communication with workers.
The good news is that employees in our survey reported that they trust their organizations almost as much as their families, and significantly more than news organizations or social media. Here are the results:
I trust the information I receive from:
Friends & family 83%
My organization 67%
My coworkers 63%
The news media 30%
Social media 17%
It shows that American companies are doing a pretty good job compared with other social institutions. But it still leaves one third of workers not trusting their employers, so we’ve still got some work to do.
Trust in Workplace Communications
The work is worth it. For example, we found a solid link between increased employee trust of their companies and decreased preventable workplace accidents. We also know that trust is an important ingredient of engagement, also a super important ingredient for a well-run company.
In an era of fake news and shifting political landscapes, employees appreciate having an employer that’s trustworthy and transparent. We believe in these values for our company and work every day to make them a reality for our customers.
You can never give up on safety awareness. No matter how good the safety system is, accidents still happen. Here’s a perfect example I read about in our local (New Haven Register) newspaper.
The article tells about a driver for a food distributor driving a 13’ truck carrying oil and cheese and hit a 12’ bridge. The trailer got ruined, buckling in the middle under the edge of the bridge. The photo in the paper clearly shows the low clearance sign.
The driver’s comment to police: “I thought I would be able to pass under because over there [pointing to a different section of the underpass] I pass under it with no problems.” He went on to say that his boss should have warned him saying, “He knows about the bridges… he’s supposed to tell me. But he didn’t.”
So the bridge height was clearly marked. The driver actually knew the bridge was a foot too low, but he had made it before. And then he blamed it on his boss for good measure. What’s wrong with this picture? Just about everything, but it’s not an uncommon situation. Accidents happen all the time in workplaces where safety is a top priority.
Safety Never Stops
That’s why the job of safety is never done. People get complacent and think that “it’ll never happen to me,” until it does. The solution for this is constant reminders about important safety items day after day, week after week, month after month.
It’s a lot like advertising, you have to keep selling. Take Coca-Cola for instance. We all know about Coke, but we constantly see their advertising, which is continually updated using new graphics, music, etc. They know that product reinforcement is critical to ongoing sales. Same thing with safety; we all know it’s important, but it’ll fade from our minds without constant reminders.
Keep Safety Going in Your Workplace
If you don’t want your drivers trying to fit a 13’ truck under a 12’ bridge, you have to keep telling them, repeatedly, to be aware at all times. Having workplace digital signage in the breakroom, where they’ll see it on their way out the door every day, is a great place to start.
Let’s say your cable TV bill is $125 per month. For that amount you get over 100 channels of various video content, some movies and music. Now let’s say I offered you a deal from my cable company for only $25 a month, saving you $1,200 a year! There’s only one catch. You’ll have to supply your own content. So what would your answer be to that?
It’s an obvious answer for cable and similar services in your home. But what about for your workplace? Businesses are constantly adopting new technologies to save time and money. Workplace digital signage is a great example. There are many low-cost providers offering a basic “channel” for your in-house content. But it will cost you time, money and resources to produce content for your screens that is effective at engaging, informing and educating your employees. And by the way, your low-cost provider may have limits on the amount of content, file formats and size.
One of the reasons why digital signage is so popular for employee communications is that it’s visual. It grabs your employees’ attention and makes your messages stick. However, if you are posting PDFs, spreadsheets and PowerPoints, your employees will quickly lose interest. That’s where professional content can help.
Why Use Professional Content?
At Marlin, we provide a total solution that includes industry-specific content. We have learned that customers really appreciate having fresh, industry-specific professional content included in their subscription. It helps them communicate their important issues easily and it takes an enormous communications burden off their shoulders.
Most companies need to communicate and reinforce certain issues regularly, such as safety, customer service, wellness, teamwork, stress reduction, etc. On average there are about a dozen subjects that a typical company needs to keep in rotation on their digital signage screens. To do that weekly is almost impossible for most companies without a dedicated internal communications department and video staff. So we do it for them by providing video content on a daily and weekly schedule that automatically appears on their displays with zero effort on their part.
While the cost for this complete solution is more than those rock-bottom digital signage products, the value is so much greater. Not only do companies save time and resources, but the dynamic, high-impact content ensures that their employees will look at their screens. That’s real value and a big reason why our retention rate is over 90%. Our customers have real problems to solve and issues to communicate. They’ve learned that, like cable TV with no shows, workplace digital signage with no content is a bad deal, even with a cut-rate price.
Read more on how you can keep your employees engaged with digital signage here.
Many people get their first pet when presented with the opportunity to get one “free” from a neighbor or at low cost from a local shelter. Many shelters offer adoptions of cats for around $100, which includes shots, spaying/neutering, and microchipping. It seems like a bargain.
But then the costs start to mount. Right away the new owner needs to get a litter box, scratching post, carrying crate, food and of course a couple of toys. According to this website, the first-year costs of owning a cat are about $1,000. Then there are the ongoing annual expenses such as veterinarian care, flea/tick prevention, food, treats, etc., that total $500 to $1,000 depending on which website you look at. Over a 10-year period, that $100 cat ends up costing about $8,000. And if the cat ever needs surgery, add a few thousand more.
The ongoing cost of DIY digital signage
My point is that the initial price has little to do with the ongoing cost. It’s the same thing with workplace digital signage. Many buyers just focus on the initial cost of the digital signage hardware, or even repurpose equipment they have lying around. But that’s a short-sighted strategy as it ignores the cost of necessities like:
A content management system (CMS) designed for workplace communications. Having the right one cuts your administrative time investment by up to 90%.
A digital signage player (computer) that has the horsepower to run many different types of content simultaneously and the reliability to function 24/7.
A source for content that expresses the issues you need to address. If you are planning on creating all the content yourself, that’s an entire cost center in and of itself.
Having to manually do any of these items will add up to big $$$ quickly, either in employee time spent or in outsourcing fees.
You can save a lot of time – and headaches – by buying a workplace digital signage system that does them all for you. Like buying a cat, a small percentage of the total cost of ownership is in the initial outlay. If you’re looking to get workplace digital signage for your business, make sure you’ll be purr-fectly happy with it by considering the points above.
According to Merriam-Webster, a killer app is “a computer application of such great value or popularity that it assures the success of the technology with which it is associated.” The thing that assures success with workplace digital signage is content. Content is the killer app.
There’s only one reason why companies buy digital signage – to display content. Content is used to help the company address issues or problems, many of which have huge ROI (e.g., accident prevention, lower employee turnover and higher engagement).
So it’s interesting to me that people think that the killer app is the software. Sure, you need good software to make posting content as easy as possible, but that’s meaningless without having the right content to post.
I’m going to make a rare blog pitch here for our monthly content, because it really is so important to our customers. We produce dozens of issue-related content videos for them every month designed to help move the needle on their important issues. I’m not talking about weather or sports content (we have those too). What I’m referring to is hard-hitting content on issues that move companies closer to their corporate goals.
If you’re looking to install digital signage for your workplace, be sure to focus on what you’re really trying to do: communicate specific issues to your employees. And then look for a system that will allow you to do that, but be especially on the lookout for delivering the killer app, content, which is what it’s all about.
Gallup runs an ongoing “Employee Engagement Survey” with thousands of companies each year. Those that score in the top half of the survey results show these benefits compared to those in the lower quartiles:
Let’s take a look to estimate what any of these stats could do for your business.
Take the absenteeism stat for example; Let’s assume you have 250 employees at your location. According to this Forbes article, the average absenteeism cost per employee per year is around $3,000, or $750k for our hypothetical company. A 37% cost savings would be $277,500.
Or how could your business benefit from 48% fewer safety incidents?
The National Safety Council estimates a cost of $38,000 per disabling injury and $7,000 per non-lost time injury. Let’s use $10,000 as an average per-incident amount (which doesn’t even include workplace fatalities that cost $1.1 million). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual injury rate is 2.9 per 100 employees. So, our typical 250-employee company would have 7 incidents per year. A 48% reduction would mean 3.4 less incidents per year. At an average of $38,000 per, that’s a savings of $129,000 per year.
We’ve only quantified two of the items on the list and are already a little over $400,000. I’d say that quantifying the other eight would easily get us over $1 million. Keep in mind that these savings don’t require any additional sales; they represent potential profit dollars currently draining out of a leaky bucket.
Communicating effectively drives employee engagement. Engagement drives better behaviors which in turn drive profits.
Will implementing better communications solve all those issues? Probably not, so cut the savings in half. Heck – cut them by 75%, and you’re still talking about big dollars, certainly a huge ROI on just about any program you initiate.
Plugging up that leaky bucket might not be the most exciting project in the world, but it will generate real profit dollars and healthier, happier employees.
The device in the photo above is used for crushing sugar cane and limes for roadside drinks that are sold in India. While in its own way it’s almost a piece of art, I think a Cuisinart would do a lot better job. It would be much faster and the operator wouldn’t face the constant risk of bodily injury. But I’m guessing the owner of this machine used whatever parts that could be found around and cobbled this thing together.
Many, maybe most companies create their in-house digital signage (DS) systems in a similar manner. They figure they can scrape together an old computer and a few inexpensive displays, and that will give them a system to display their important communications. And it will – sort of.
The problem is it will be difficult to use, require constant attention from IT and network employees, be prone to breakdowns, and won’t have the design tools or available content to properly communicate those important issues. A case in point: I was recently at one of our customer locations, a global food manufacturer with many sites. Our contact there, a high-level IT manager, had originally created do-it-yourself DS for his company and it worked OK. But shortly after installation, he started getting support calls from other departments. They wanted him to post the content because the system was too complicated for them. And every time there was a glitch, he also got called. One day he realized that he was spending a significant portion of each week dealing with the system, instead of doing the important IT jobs that would help the company reach its high-level goals. So he called us a couple of years ago and those support issues have now all gone away. He noted that his time is more valuable focusing on global company issues as opposed to supporting a home-grown system.
I hear this story time after time after time. What at first seems like a simple task turns out to be a time-sucking proposition. Or worse, the system gets ignored and eventually shut down.
Just like you probably use an outside vendor to help with your payroll processing, you should consider looking to partner with a professional DS company for your workplace communications needs. It will be faster, easier and cheaper in the mid-to-long run.
In my next blog, I’ll give you some statistics on how much money you can save when internal DS is done correctly.
IT consulting firm Cognizant recently released a report describing 21 future jobs that will be needed as artificial intelligence and robotics take hold. I find the list interesting because I’ve written about this controversial subject several times before.
The debate is between those who think the coming automation will make millions of low-tech employees obsolete, and people (like me) who think those lost jobs will be more than made up for by the types listed below. As I’ve pointed out in my previous blog, we’ve gone through waves of amazing innovation over the last 150 years, with new technologies requiring more new jobs than those lost.
Aside from the interesting theoretical debate, the workplace will definitely change and managers need to be thinking about their HR needs in the medium to long-term. This is a good place to start because I firmly believe that all businesses will eventually be hiring new types of employees with skill sets matching this list:
1. Digital Tailor 2. Fitness Commitment Counselor 3. Virtual Store Sherpa 4. Ethical Sourcing Manager 5. Highway Controller 6. AI Business Development Manager 7. Man-Machine Teaming Manager 8. Bring Your Own It Facilitator 9. Personal Data Broker 10. Data Detective 11. Master of Edge Computing 12. Walker Talker 13. AI Assisted Healthcare Technician 14. Cyber City Analyst 15. Genomic Portfolio Director 16. Financial Wellness Coach 17. Chief Trust Officer 18. Quantum Machine Learning Analyst 19. Genetic Diversity Officer 20. Augmented Reality Journey Builder 21. Personal Memory Curator