Many companies I've worked with in recent years deal with high employee turn-over rates (even to a degree that half or more of employees leave every year) and find it difficult to recruit long-staying employees.
Recently I visited my good friend Ya'acov Dagan, who manages Nestle-Osem's site at Sderot. At Osem Sderot (like at other Osem factories I've visited) turn-over rates are very low, and they benefit from professional employees and accumulative knowledge.
Nestle is a world leader in constant improvement and striving for excellence. And the Sderot site, with approximately 650 employees, is without a doubt one of their leading sites in all aspects.
Nestlé's motto, which you'll find displayed at each one of their sites and to which everybody strives, is:
"0 waste, 1 team, 100% employee involvement".
Ya'acov presented to me the goals towards which all company employees work: increasing profitability and striving for clients', employees', and ownership's satisfaction.
The practical expression of the above comes down to two things:
- Acknowledging that every worker along the production and packaging line can cause damage to the product, which will result in waste, or worse, in sending out to the market a product that doesn’t fill the rigorous quality standards.
- Implementing the need for improved profitability in all levels and translating every improvement action to the monetary saving it contributes.
In order to achieve Nestlé's motto and the above two aspects, many actions are taken at the site. But it all boils down to delegation, all the way to the levels closest to the production floor, achieving full employee involvement and implementation of an organizational culture of analyzing and investigating faults by employees, and everyone working towards constant improvement.
The vanguard of this method in Osem Sderot is shift managers taking full responsibility for their sectors.
As Ya'acov calls it: "responsibility from end to end".
That is: shift managers, in addition to having a horizontal responsibility in their shifts, also have a full responsibility of all aspects of a part of their department.
They are responsible, 24 hours, to meet sector goals, achieve zero work accidents, and zero client complaints.
After the theoretical explanations and a review of very impressive statistics, I went on a tour with Avichai who was a shift manager in one of the departments at the time.
Touring the Production Floor
The most impressive thing was hearing Avichai present to me the factory's goals and his action goals and sector responsibilities, using the same language Ya'acov had.
It was clear the goals set by Ya'acov were implemented and followed by all employees.
Avichai told me how he's leading an improvement team using the fishbone method of fault analysis and improvement. He showed me the daily indicators used and how he shares information with his team in order to achieve daily goals.
Since Avichai's responsibility was for a certain part of packaging machines over 24 hours, a full cooperation between all shift managers was crucial, as each was responsible for a different sector.
Throughout the tour, I found myself several times stopping the flow of information coming from Avichai to make sure I'm touring with a shift manager. He acted and spoke like a high-level executive. It was clear I was speaking with a creative and motivated manager who constantly strove to improve profitability and strengthen his place of work.
The cooperation with the custodial staff was just as amazing. Custodial staff were a part of the production division and reported to the production manager and not, as had been the case before, to a factory wide maintenance manager acting independently, parallel to the production manager.
The sector manger (who was also, as mentioned, a shift manager) had yearly reviews with employees and the resulting recommendations determined raises and bonuses for custodial staff as well. The result is that they are fully integrated into the factory-wide drive to achieve goals - instead of waiting for faults or breakages to occur before acting, they constantly look for things to improve.
Throughout the tour I was impressed by the contentment and motivation levels at every corner of the factory.
Instead of acting out of the default assumption that production floor workers are not professional enough or creative enough, delegate responsibility and authority to them, involve them in achieving company goals, and you'll have invested and motivated employees, with the result of considerable improvement in profits.
Closing the Circle
To close the circle, going back to the beginning of this article, when it comes to high turn-over rates and lack of motivation, I say there's a connection between turn-over rates and employees' motivation and contentment.
These can be achieved when employees aren’t "a cog in the machine", rather when company goals are shared with them and they become involved in achieving them.
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