Recently, Kevin Meyer (Evolving Excellence) offered that "people are more than a pair of hands. They have knowledge, creativity, experience and ideas. Even if that isn’t represented on a P&L or balance sheet."
Kevin is right on point, people are the sole source of productivity in an organization (you could even say they are the soul of your company’s competitive advantage). The key is having them engaged (is this term becoming overused?) or involved in improving/changing/optimizing their aspect of the business.
There is one way we’ve found to "keep score" when it comes to how well utilized your employees are. It’s called the OSHA incident rate. High incident rates are an indication of how safe and efficient the workplace is. The lower the rate – the safer the environment – the more respect for employees is demonstrated.
This is very important stuff…consider some of these recent stats from a new report, "The State of Employee Engagement 2008", issued by global consultants BlessingWhite:
Only 1 in 3 American workers are fully engaged
13% are "Crash & Burners", they are disillusioned and potentially exhausted and at risk for becoming disengaged
19% are completely disengaged, disconnected from organizational priorities and are not getting what they need from work…people in this group are likely to collect a paycheck and enjoy favorable job conditions but contribute minimally
Fujio Cho, Toyota’s Chairman, said "Manufacturers treating workers as simply one of the ‘three M’s –men, machines, and material — won’t develop in terms of international competitiveness."
The problem is that while many companies have excellent tools to optimize the performance of machines, and ensure the the smooth flow of raw, in process, and finished materials in their plants and to their customers, they generally lack tools to help them understand, engage and then optimize the performance of people.
This knowledge gap creates a trying fit for people, the output of which could be a painful and punishing workplace — tough to engage when what you are engaging in hurts you.
Concentrating on lowering metrics like the OSHA incident rate is a first step in driving your company towards real Lean.