Kaizen is a productivity philosophy originating from Japan that works to make small incremental changes in the manufacturing process. Eliminating any type of wastes in a facility will help to improve productivity and the methodology of Kaizen promotes a clean and organized workspace to keep workers moving around the facility much more efficiently. While the small changes may not make a noticeable impact on productivity overnight, Kaizen does facilitate an environment that allows for continuous improvement. Over weeks, months, and years, the facility will be operating far more productively than before Kaizen was implemented. Even as the workplace becomes more and more productive, managers, supervisors, and workers will be continuously looking for areas to improve.
There are a variety of tools and strategies Kaizen promotes that directly impacts productivity. For instance, Gemba walks will often cut out the unnecessary time and communication when a manager goes to the production line to observe processes and speak with frontline employees. When workers from different levels and departments are involved with decision making, problem-solving skills will be improved and finding solutions for identified issues will become more and more productive over time. The philosophy of Kaizen promotes teamwork and helps to strengthen teams to more efficiently solve problems.
Continuous improvement in Kaizen can be broken down into six different steps with each promoting productivity:
- Standardize: Involve workers from all levels and departments to produce a process that can be repeated an organized.
- Measure: Using data that can be collected, decide if the process is efficient.
- Compare: Compare the data against requirements, does it save time or accomplish the desired result?
- Innovate: Look for new and better ways to achieve the same result and find more efficient routes or techniques.
- Standardize: Create defined processes that can be repeated for new and more efficient activities.
- Repeat: Go back to step one and go through the steps again!
The cycle may seem repetitive and exhaustive but is very effective when it comes to improving the productivity within an organization.
Productivity in the workplace can also be greatly affected by employee morale. Although often overlooked, employee morale can increase when workers know their voice matters and their ideas and suggestions are taken seriously. Employees who are happier with their work environment are more likely to work more productively. It is proven that engaged and satisfied employees are more likely to stay working in an organization and employees who are completing their work productively and efficiently will take personal satisfaction in their own work.