Continuous Improvements for Employees
Date Published: Jan 30, 2023
The new year is a fresh opportunity to scrutinize your workforce’s needs, establish goals and initiate plans for change. Countless approaches fall under the “workplace goal-setting” paradigm, but there is one that is a little different than the rest: continuous improvements.
As the name suggests, continuous improvement is an ongoing process with no end date. It is a methodology that is integrated into business operations to maximize outputs and minimize inefficiencies. Continuous improvement can be applied to virtually any aspect of an organization - from cost competitiveness and sales performance, to employee education and customer satisfaction.
The continuous improvement method is arguably most effective when applied to the workforce and company culture. Human resource professionals can adopt the continuous improvement approach to boost employee skill sets, elevate workforce morale and enhance company culture. Let’s take a look at continuous improvements for employees that human resources and other personnel leaders can harness for company-wide enhancements.
Examples of Continuous Improvements for Employees
Continuous improvements designed for your workforce can have a profound and lasting impact on the organization. While this can take any number of forms, below are more common examples of personnel- and culture-related continuous improvements.
Ongoing Skills Development
Employees equipped with deep skill sets are valuable and productive. Simply put, fostering ongoing skills development within a workforce drives organizational excellence, and is a priority among many human resources departments.
Skills training can be directly related to specific positions or departments to augment performance. One way is through upskilling, which equips employees with new competencies related to their current position. Another route is reskilling, which provides the tools to a worker so they can move into a new role within the organization.
Continuous improvements for employees’ skills development should also incorporate proficiencies that are not job specific, but applicable to virtually any position or class of positions. Skilling-up workers on topics such as problem-solving, analytical reasoning, written communication, verbal communication, adaptability, teamwork and coaching can be a powerful value-add to any enterprise.
Think Tanks for Collaborative Problem Solving
Employees want to feel that their voices are heard by co-workers and superiors. One effective method for advancing employee engagement and the sense that employees are valued, while also solving operational issues, is with think tank sessions.
These are brainstorming meetings whereby management and their reports come together to develop fixes for problems. A schedule of topics is decided upon in advance, and when each topic is put to the group, every participant proposes a solution.
Every idea is considered and discussed in the context of how feasible the solution would be to implement, taking into consideration costs, time commitments, skills requirements and the bandwidth of the team. In this way, employees feel appreciated, problems are creatively overcome and operations are streamlined in keeping with a continuous improvement model.
Bolstering Employee Engagement and Satisfaction
It is worth pointing out that employee engagement and satisfaction, while closely linked, are two separate things. Employee engagement is the extent to which workers are enthusiastic about their work and the mission of the organization. On the other hand, employee satisfaction is the degree to which an employee is content fulfilling their job duties.
Another way to think of it is that employee engagement is a two-way street - or what can the employee and employer do together? Employee satisfaction is a one-way street - or what can the employer do for the employee?
Continuous improvement models can be designed to bolster both employee engagement and satisfaction. Since employee satisfaction is first required for an employee to be engaged (and not the other way around), focusing on ways to lift engagement is a way of killing two birds with one stone.
Continuous improvements for employees engagement should focus on ensuring that workers:
• Know their job responsibilities and what is expected in terms of work quality and conduct.
• Understand the organizational mission and how their work contributes to it.
• Have resources and training available so they can thrive in their positions.
• Know that they are listened to and valued.
• Trust that their superiors have their best interests in mind.
• Frequently receive praise and constructive criticism.
• Have opportunities to learn and grow personally and professionally.
Implementing Continuous Improvement Processes
As with any new processes, your implementation of continuous improvements for employees should be reasonable. Goals should find the right balance between aspirational and attainable. Too easy and your team will not meet their potential. Too hard and your team will be deflated.
Learn More: How to Set Effective SMART Goals
Part and parcel to the success of any new protocol is soliciting feedback. Structure your continuous improvement initiatives so that all stakeholders are continuously providing feedback and - just as importantly - that there is a methodology for reviewing all feedback, and incorporating it when deemed appropriate. This gives you the space to identify areas of improvement while offering new perspectives and ideas on the process.
Finally, employees need to buy into the continuous improvement model for it to really work. Cultivate a culture that encourages employees to spot inefficiencies and provide solutions. A system can be established that collects employees’ ideas, such as a data silo. Another means of establishing this value among employees is by working it into continuous employee performance management. Finally, nothing quite motivates many workers like a reward system. Consider developing one that acknowledges and remunerates problem solvers.
Continuous Improvements for a First-Rate Workforce and Culture
Yes, you can bolster your workforce’s performance and spirits with a well-planned and -implemented continuous improvement initiative. Hold onto top talent, and watch your workforce become more agile and productive. Learn how Priority Management can be your partner in training-up staff and delivering on your continuous improvements for employees.
Priority Management is a worldwide training company with 55 offices in 15 countries. We have successfully trained more than two million graduates in Priority workshops. Our programs help companies and people be more effective and manage their workflow in and out of the office by providing tools, processes and discipline. Simply put - A Better Way To Work! Clients range from Fortune 500 companies, small-to-medium businesses and government/military employees.
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