Employee Involvement and Continuous Improvement: How to Make Your Company's Transition Work

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By Emilie A Lachance - August 03, 2018

Instituting Continuous Improvement in your company can yield massive benefits. A well-functioning continuous improvement system can simultaneously increase productivity and cut costs. It’s practically the holy grail of manufacturing. But many companies make a fatal error when trying to craft a Continuous Improvement culture: they don’t make sure the workers are actually on board. According to W. Edwards Deming and many of his 14 pointsengaging the workers on the floor in the factories is a necessary and deliberate process if your company wants to make the leap to Continuous Improvement.

Here is how to motivate employee engagement and teamwork in a continuous improvement environment:

Lead by Example 

Employees learn culture and on-the-job behavior by looking to their superiors. They won’t buy in if they are the only ones who are expected to follow the CI expectations. Everyone in the company needs to be on board, and to understand how increasing competition both domestic and global means that everyone needs to hold themselves to a higher standard to meet the higher demand. Make it clear that continuous improvement is not a nominal philosophy only, and their jobs depend on their dependability. Finally, involve all levels in decisions as continuous improvement is implemented. Your corporate vision is still needed of course, but workers are far more likely to be serious and deliberate in a culture they agree to and help create.

After all, Mr. Deming's 10th point is "Eliminate slogans, exhortations, or quotas for workers, but rather make speed and efficiency institutional".

Emphasize Training

Continuous Improvement is a fairly self-explanatory name, but in order for manufacturing in your plant to continuously improve, so do the skills of your workers. Emphasizing employee training will pay back dividends, not only in increased efficiency, but also in the moral boost workers get from worker for a company that invests in them. Training is so important that some companies have even started making yearly training non-optional. But like all investments, training must pay off to be viable, and the right kind of training must be offered if it’s going to pay off. While management should direct most of this initiative, this part of continuous improvement implementation is a great time to look for worker feedback on the kind of training they would want offered.

Focus on Quality

One of the basic initial steps when introducing continuous improvement in your company culture is to really push the idea of quality. Make it a high-visibility issue, such as posting Statistical Process Charts on the walls. If there’s no quality department either create one or create a position for a quality control inspector. Quality control inspectors might be a hassle in the beginning, both for management and for workers, but over time the pressure of an overseer results in better practices and care in their work. However, to fully maximize a quality-driven, continuously improving culture, there needs to be rewards, too. 

Money is always a great motivator, and bonuses for good work never go unmissed, but other kinds of rewards also work as great moral boosts. Posting the spc sheets publicly and giving a pizza party to the process workers with the fewest variations are two great, high-impact yet resource-light ideas. If there’s one takeaway from this article let it be that recognition goes a long way. Giving workers on every level the attention they deserve when instituting continuous improvement in your company will ensure that continuous improvement becomes a focus rather than a side project.

Worximity is deeply committed to the philosophies of Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing in food manufacturing. Using our IoT technology we provide company wide visibility into the statistics that matter to manufacturers and accelerate TTV (Time to Value) of investments in company culture and training to achieve outstanding productivity.

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