Organizations embrace continuous improvement, sometimes utilizing business process methodologies such as Six Sigma and Lean, in order to improve processes, increase productivity, address quality problems, and reduce waste. These are all fantastic benefits of a continuous improvement approach, but many companies are surprised to discover that continuous improvement programs and philosophies are great boosters in the human resources area as well. Here are some unexpected HR benefits of continuous improvement.
Each opportunity for improvement is also a chance let employees flex their leadership muscle. In order to implement positive change, team members can steer a project through the identification, analysis, planning, implementation, and measurement process. This builds both the practical and “soft” skills necessary to effectively lead.
Many opportunities for improvement will require cross-functional collaboration. Bringing people from different parts of the company together can shed light on easily fixed process problems and deliver surprising new approaches to the most difficult challenges. Having people with different motivations look at the same issue can deliver results that satisfy everyone.
Easier Employee Onboarding
One of the foundations of continuous improvement is standard work. Standard work requires that the current best practices for all processes, tasks, and procedures be documented and easily accessible by those who do the work. This sets the baseline for improvement, but it also makes it much easier to bring a new employee up to speed and ensure that they are performing tasks as prescribed. Once the new employee is able to execute to the current standard, they can then bring their fresh perspective to the task and offer ideas for improving that standard.
Studies have found that 89 percent of managers believe that most employees are pulled away by better pay. Yet data reveals that in 88 percent of voluntary turnovers, something other than money is the root cause. Continuous improvement addresses many of the top reasons that people really leave - lack of feedback, not enough opportunity for growth, and too little recognition of the value of the employee’s work. Involvement in improvement also addresses an even more insidious problem than turnover, disengagement. Employees who are only working hard enough to not get fired, do not contribute positively to company culture. Improvement initiatives encourage engagement and create an emotional investment in the organization’s success.
So, if your organization is considering implementing or reinvesting in a systematic approach to positive change, don’t underestimate the HR benefits of continuous improvement. The dividends of setting your employees up to succeed are great indeed.