Making The Best Use of Your Employee Evaluation Findings Through Continuous Improvement

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Why conduct employee satisfaction and workplace assessments? Ideally, employers conduct these studies to gather and analyze the information needed to ensure employees at all levels, in all departments and work locations, are given the training, information, time and support needed to do their jobs Performing work safely, effectively and efficiently. There are compelling results regarding the positive ROI of companies implementing employee wellness initiatives, especially when they are based on both quantitative and qualitative research (1). For example:

  • The Coors Brewing Company reported a $5.50 return on every dollar spent on a wellness program, with an 18% reduction in absenteeism among program participants
  • An international soft drink company reported annual savings of $500 per employee after implementing a fitness program that 60% of all employees participated in
  • Du Pont reported a reduction of 11,726 days of disability by the end of the second year of a wellness program
  • The City of Toronto reported that employees missed an average of 3.35 fewer days in the first six months of a fitness program than those not participating in the program
  • BC Hydro reported that employee turnover fell from 10.3% to 3.5% following the introduction of workplace wellness and fitness programs

Our own studies have confirmed a strong statistical correlation between employee satisfaction and job stress, their absenteeism and presenteeism rates, and their future employment intentions.

To ensure the best return on investment related to your employee and workplace evaluation, you must have a clear understanding of why you are conducting a study at this time and commit to creating and implementing a plan to address the study findings. Continuous Improvement (CI) provides a great framework to facilitate positive change in the workplace.

CI was developed by WD Deming as a means of modernizing Japanese industry after World War II. Among other things, it focuses on “continuously” increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of all facets of a company or organization (2). Many aspects of CI touch on the culture and climate of the workplace and employees’ long-term commitments to their employers. From an HR perspective, CI can lead to improvements in communication, leadership, organizational processes and employee satisfaction.

CI is based on the concept that management actions are aimed at improvement and not just control; Creating change, not just maintaining performance.

In a CI company, employee wellness initiatives, programs or processes are subject to continuous improvement cycles. There are four steps in these cycles: Plan, do, study and act (PDSA).

TO PLAN: A problem or concern is identified. The necessary processes for bringing about changes are developed. Objectives, objectives, associated activities and key performance indicators (ie logic models) are established.

DO: A plan to achieve the desired results is implemented.

TO LEARN: The impact and results associated with the administration of this plan will be measured against external benchmarks and/or past performance.

PLOT: The changes either flow into your ongoing processes or you return to the initial planning phase to create a new way of doing things. Here is a fictional case study to illustrate how an employee-based PDSA cycle might work in a manufacturing context. A company hired a new operations manager from another region. In about six months there was an unexplained 9.7% increase in work-related injuries and a 13.5% increase in absenteeism.

TO PLAN: A review of HR data confirmed the increase in accidents and absenteeism. Confidential interviews were conducted with select employees who felt that the new manager had made unilateral changes to shifts and some key operations. These employees felt left out of the decision-making process, which was different from how the former manager made important decisions. Based on these interviews, an employee questionnaire was developed and implemented. The study revealed that some employees felt unprepared and untrained to implement the new processes. They didn’t feel valued by the new manager either. These factors led to improper device use by some employees, higher stress levels at work, sleep deprivation, and conflict at work and at home. This in turn left some employees feeling tired and distracted at work and more prone to accidents. Higher absenteeism rates were reported by employees with the highest levels of stress. In response to these findings, the company, through a committee chaired by the new manager, sought input from employees most affected by these changes to reduce accident rates and absenteeism and improve workplace relationships.

DO: Some of the shift changes have been reversed based on employee feedback. Training has been introduced to familiarize employees with the new production processes and equipment.

TO LEARN: A follow-up study found that most of the negative factors associated with the changes were reduced or eliminated. This was confirmed by a statistically significant reduction in work-related accidents and absenteeism. It also turned out that the new manager was unaware of employees’ expectations of decision-making at work, as this was not part of his previous experience. He began to see employees in a new light, which made them feel more valued and engaged at work.

PLOT: The changes made during the “Do” phase were permanently incorporated into the work process. Training is now provided for all new employees and employees are consulted on important changes. As a result, higher employee satisfaction rates and a corresponding decrease in workplace injuries and employee absenteeism have been sustained over time.

(1) cf.

(2) cf. “A Ten Step Method To Continuous Improvement” (Note: A modified version of this article will appear in the forthcoming edition of the Canadian meat magazine.)

Thanks to Gerry Kaplan

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