How Johns Manville reaches non-desk workers as COVID-19 rages

More than two-thirds of its 8,000 employees on three continents staff the floors in manufacturing plants. Signage plays a big part, but so does imbuing the workforce with a sense of purpose.

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Reaching workers in manufacturing plants worldwide has never been a walk in the park.

“It’s a challenge today, and frankly it was a challenge before the pandemic,” says Eric Brown, director of corporate comms for Denver-based Johns Manville, and member of the Communications Leadership Council.

Employees working at home because of the pandemic are staying connected through digital means such as Skype, Teams, Webex and good old email.

Hourly workers on manufacturing plant floors don’t have the same digital connections, Brown says. Nor do they have easy access to the company’s internal networks.

The big question, made all the more crucial of late, was, “How do we communicate with this group of employees?”

The answer: Ramp up the visuals.

“Over the past three weeks, we have created lots of posters,” Brown says, “and then, even more posters.”

They focus on different yet related issues.

“We have posters about health and hygiene,” he says, “and we have posters about handwashing, posters about germs, and we have posters about social distancing and face masks.”

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