by Heidi Riley
“Your employees are your greatest assets,” says Gary Cox, Lean Six Sigma, master black belt and Senior Associate with Barrington Consulting Group.
At the recent Sea to Sky Conference hosted by ACADA (the Atlantic Canada Aerospace and Defence Association), Gary talked about how employers can cultivate an engaged and motivated workforce and foster a culture of innovation and enthusiasm within the workplace through continuous improvement training.
Gary has more than 18 years of black belt continuous improvement project execution experience and has worked with a number of ACADA members over the years.
He says a focus on continuous improvement as a part of the culture of an organization will pay off with a more engaged workforce, which will lead to happier customers and more profits for the company.
“Twenty percent of the workforce is actively engaged in their work and love what they do. Companies need to work to increase engagement. It has been statistically proven that companies with high employee engagement have higher profits.
“Statistics inform us that engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their employers. In an organization that is screaming retention, engaging employees by recognizing and appreciating them is a way to retain them.”
What does it take to develop an engaged workforce dedicated to continuous improvement?
“Offering employees a work culture that reflects their values and offering opportunities for growth and development is part of a strategy that will reap results.”
Gary also says that companies can ensure an engaged workforce by surveying their employees to measure their commitment to achieving their organizational mission. “Then respond to the feedback generated from the surveys.”
Gary quoted business guru Peter Thiele: “The most valuable business in the coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower their staff rather than make them obsolete.”
Gary suggests using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to achieve engagement. “AI is not about eliminating or reducing people – it is about empowering people to do things far beyond their imagination.”
Training promotes retention
Continuous improvement training for staff is a form of recognition and empowerment, he says. “Investment in training leads to employees feeling valued, and you will retain that talent. That talent will contribute ideas on how things can be done better. A continuous improvement culture will lead to more profits for the company by lowering operational costs, improving quality, and increasing throughput. Continuous improvement needs to be part of every strong strategic corporate strategy.
“Training is an investment that will pay off. The four Atlantic provinces have funding available for organizations to support the development and training of your teams.”
Ways to empower employees
1. Encourage them to focus on the customer
2. Acknowledge that front line staff know best, because they work with the processes and can see solutions
3. Promote creativity over capital – not all solutions cost a lot of money
“Employers have a fear that if they train their employees, those employees will leave the company and use their new expertise somewhere else,” says Gary. “However, that is not the case.
“We are in a very competitive environment for talent, and you need to train people to a high standard so that they can do their jobs well. You can’t afford not to train them.
“Training goes beyond technical. Soft skills like project leadership, presentation, and facilitation need to be trained too.
“Train front line staff so that when they are promoted into management positions, they will already be thinking about continuous improvement. Training will lead to retention of employees, processes will improve, and you will also retain more customers.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about Barrington Consulting Group’s Operational and Performance Service, visit www.barringtongrp.ca