In-School Productivity Campaign | Ramping up productivity through employee engagement
Employees are generally considered to be the 'arms and legs' of an organisation - moving it through the processes of production - from input to output. They are, however, rarely looked upon as the 'brain' of the organisation - capable of offering guidance to the strategic direction of the business.
According to Jonathan Isaacs, productivity specialist in the technical assistance services unit of the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC), if organisations want to truly improve their productivity levels, they must employ a holistic approach.
"Organisations must understand that the autocratic approach to management will not produce an environment for continuous improvement and an overall increase in productivity where it matters," he said.
A business that is serious about making a dent in the productivity levels must resist the top-down, vertical approach, and employ the horizontal management structure that requires contributions from employees at all levels.
"While the horizontal approach will have its drawbacks, the way to mitigate against such is to incorporate a total quality management (TQM) component into all the processes," continued Isaacs.
The TQM philosophy was developed by Japanese management consultant William Deming. It consists of, but is not limited to, total employee involvement, communication, continuous improvement, fact-based decision making, strategic and systematic approaches, integrated and process-centred systems, as well as being customer-centric.
According to the expert, his experiences with productivity interventions undertaken by the JPC have consistently revealed that employees have solutions to many of the problems that exist within businesses.
"They are the technicians who are intimate with the actual steps in the process and oftentimes, they have ingenious, low- or no-cost ideas on how to fix those problems. However, if you don't engage them, they will never share their ideas with management because they feel that their opinions will not be valued. Some even think that management will just take their ideas without acknowledging and rewarding their contribution," asserted Isaacs.
In a recent productivity and innovation forum held by the JPC, Jerome Miles of Rainforest Seafoods revealed that the company is now able to supply more frozen fish fillet to the market without expanding its operations as a result of the suggestion of one employee. He also noted that the company rewarded the team of employees for implementing the innovation.
Business owners, others share impact of innovations on productivity
As part of the celebration of National Workers' Week and the 80th anniversary of the 1938 workers' protest, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC) hosted a productivity and innovation forum that was guided by the theme 'Ramping up Productivity through Innovation', stemming from the national Labour Day theme 'Ramp it Up - Fix it Up'.
The JPC continues to provide individuals and organisations with the information necessary to improve business processes and enhance overall business and personal efficiency. The forum brought together owners, directors, and managers from diverse industries to share information on how the implementation of specific innovations has boosted the productivity levels of their firms and organisations. It also brought together students from the secondary and tertiary institutions as well as members of academia to shed light on how innovation has affected the educational environment.
The Productivity and Innovation Forum was held on Thursday, May 17, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew.
- Sandrea Dennis Plummer is a communications specialist at the Jamaica Productivity Centre