Lean Principles for a Healthier Work Environment

When people first hear about lean logistics and principles and how they can be implemented in a workplace, they are often confused. Lean sounds like an odd term for anything in a workplace, and at first glance, the methodologies can be a bit confusing. Many people mistakenly think that no one guiding set of principles can help make for a healthier work environment for virtually every type of company. The fact is, however, lean methodologies are specific enough to provide the necessary guidance, but broad enough to allow them to work in nearly every situation.

Lean principles have been implemented in thousands of facilities around the world, in an attempt to make a healthier work environment. When implemented properly, the strategies allow for significant improvement to both the processes in the facility, and the people doing the actual work. Juan Amador, a lean expert, had the following to say about what lean can do for a company:

“I have applied Lean in manufacturing and service settings in two multinational organizations and to more than 10 different functions in at least 15 countries. Over time, I have come to recognize that Lean implementation improves the product or service while simultaneously enhancing the lives of an organization’s employees. Lean has the power to reduce cost and increase quality; it’s not an either-or proposition.” – KnowledgeatWork.com

By allowing lean to help structure the focus of everyone in a facility toward the elimination of waste, it can help improve people’s jobs, while also reducing the waste produced by a given facility. Lean helps to eliminate waste in seven specific areas ranging from wasted time to wasted materials, and even wasted potential. When implemented properly, a lean strategy can cut costs, improve efficiency, increase profit margins, and even improve the morale of employees.

While this may sound too good to be true, it has been proven in countless organizations of all types. The lean strategies can work in small mom & pop facilities with just a few employees just as well as it can work in a huge multinational corporation with tens of thousands of employees spread out over multiple locations.

Some employees fear lean strategies because they think it will mean a reduction in the number of people who are working in the facility. The fact is, however, when implemented properly, lean shouldn’t result in having to let some employees go. The improved efficiency and reduced waste helps to bring in new customers, and even expand the product line of any company. This will allow the facility to retain all the employees, and even expand the workforce, while still operating more efficiently.

Perhaps best of all, the employees in a well-run lean facility will feel more productive and valued, causing them to have improved morale. Lean strategies, when properly managed, should help employees at all levels of organizations to provide more value to the company and provide for an increased sense of accomplishment. It is truly a win-win situation for everyone involved, including the employees, the company and the customers.

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