11. Aug. 2014

Staff induction and culture

by Peet Wiid

Process improvement on its own is not enough – the greatest benefits come when improved processes are embedded in a KAIZEN™ culture.


Value Stream Mapping is a powerful Lean tool to uncover numerous opportunities to improve the way an organisation creates value for its customers. Recently during one of our public Value Stream Mapping courses, the process of staff induction came under the magnifying glass. The connection between the process and the organisational culture surfaced as we explored the improvement opportunities.

We identified some of the Muda (inefficiencies) in this process:

  • New employee having to wait for weeks to receive their access cards,
  • They are relatively unproductive for days as they cannot access systems while waiting for their log-on details and passwords,
  • Waiting to be issued with hardware like laptops, mobile phones, and vehicles,
  • Not being made aware of the Safety, Health and Environmental risks only until weeks or even months after the first day at work (think about the potential waste here!),
  • New personnel are early on in their role exposed to poor practises and it rubs off or the new employee gets frustrated with the new workplace,
  • Unnecessary movement between teams, buildings and meetings to obtain or provide information,
  • Errors made because new staff members are not aware of the standard way of performing tasks,
  • Time lost as more experienced staff will have to be consulted on how to do jobs, where to find tools, documents etc.,
  • Wasted time and effort as the new person has to reinvent processes, methods, procedures and tasks as information is not available or not shared,
  • Many resources (time, energy, people, equipment, systems and processes) are consumed during the induction process,
  • Staff turnover is high as people are dissatisfied with the organisational culture,
  • And the list goes on and on…

These various forms of inefficiencies not only adversely impact our external customers but is equally damaging to staff morale. How can we create value for external customers, patients and clients if our staff is disgruntled and disengaged? How can unhappy employees make our customers happy? The few internally driven people in the workplace might give their best regardless of all the obstacles and frustrations but extrinsic motivation still remains crucial to have engaged staff.

The real interesting part of the conversation during this course was the input from one of the participants representing a Lean business. After everyone identified these wasteful issues, he mentioned that in their business a new employee is inducted within six hours after arrival. This will include the Health and Safety briefing, being issued with all that is required to do the work and to be productive.

During their induction process very little resources are being utilised as the waste has been minimised during the years of applying Kaizen. However, the best part of his contribution was that they very seldom have to induct new staff as people tend to stay for many years due to the positive culture.

Improving processes on its own is not enough – the greatest benefits come when these improved processes are embedded in a KAIZEN™ culture. In this instance a process was almost completely eliminated due to good culture. An embedded KAIZEN™ culture will not only help us to sustain the gains of improved processes but even eliminate the need for many non-value added processes.

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