Taking Advantage of Downtime to Improve Processes
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”– Benjamin Franklin
Now is the time to take advantage of all the items on our to-do list, the items we put off when too busy. It is also the perfect time to address past complications, the processes we haven’t had the time or energy to fully focus on. Whether through getting help from outside sources or in doing the work yourself and learning new skills that will give your company an advantage on the other side of this crisis, developing your people and improving is key to this time while we are slower than normal.
Many companies have applied for the payroll assistance, or Cares Act Loans, and are working to figure out how to best use the support to keep their businesses viable. Some will put it towards their employees, helping to keep them working. Others will use it to transform their business to produce facemasks, ventilators, or other health care safety supplies. A handful will use it to clean their workspace or train their employees in other areas. And the last group will use the funds to start improving the processes so they can hit the ground running once our economy gets back up and running.
Several of the great companies of the past have used downturns, or downtime, to improve their businesses and develop their employees. For example, Toyota has always believed through hard times they will come out stronger by keeping their employees and improving their processes. There are two reasons behind this belief:
– Laying people off provides the chance to lose great employees
– When the economy bounces back, they will recoup their expenses, plus more
This thought process gives Toyota an advantage; they have lower turnover and happier employees. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have layoffs. There are some circumstances that will not allow them to keep employees while saving the company’s bottom line. But with their ingenuity, they find ways to keep employees for rarely having to make the difficult decision for layoffs.
Along with Toyota, other companies are utilizing their resources to creatively find ways to keep their employees and improve workflow during this trying time. The easiest way to accomplish this is by starting with Five-S to get your work area clean and standardized. While implementing your Five-S, an added safety precaution to help protect employees is a Sneeze Guard. A good Sneeze Guard for multipurpose use is made by C Tek. Their innovative Sneeze Guards can be repurposed as shadow boards for Point of Use Storage (POUS) at workstations.
After you start standardizing and organizing the work area, the next step is to document the processes to create Standard Work. Remember, the employees who perform the duties daily will be the best resource to help structure the Standard Work.
Once you have created your Standard Work you can begin experimenting with your processes to see if there is a better system within those processes. Your company can begin with work cells or other forms of experimentation that will help develop better processes. If your time is limited, there is a free design service from C Tek that will assist in developing U-Shape cells or other work cells that will fit your business needs.
When your company has been able to document, standardize, and adjust processes then you can start to develop and record best practices. By creating best practices, you will teach your employees how to eliminate wastes and improve processes. Furthermore, it will help them grow, ultimately benefiting your company over the long term. We all want our companies to survive this downturn or crisis, and be part of our lives for the long term.
This is a time of crisis for everyone. If we are lucky enough to have a job or our own business, we must remember that our most important resource is our employees. The Cares Act helps businesses know that they can take care of their employees in the interim. Those employees can continue to pay their bills and care for their families. This security will encourage employees to strive to do their best to help take care of the business. We are all family and are all in this together; this too shall pass.
Businesses are challenged during this time to use their creativity and find ways to improve their business model. The goal is to come out stronger on the other side of this to help customers, employees, leaders, and stakeholders. There are consultants who specialize in helping businesses evolve by providing guidance and advice to help when stuck in a place that you cannot seem to get past. Their goal is to help you to succeed and be profitable.
This is a great time to reach out to those consultants to discuss how they have helped businesses solve problems in the past. Consultants are willing and eager to help guide you because they have a passion to help. Somewhere along their professional path they have encountered a problem similar to the one you may be going through, and there was someone who gave them advice they can pass along to you.
We are not in this alone and we shouldn’t be. Even the great Warren Buffet didn’t do everything on his own. He had people help him with his business, and he did this by gaining their trust. He was able to get his people to realize that he only wanted to help them develop, but he wanted them to become financially successful. Companies like C Tek develop business solutions to help companies reach their full potential.
In this downtime be innovative. Be helpful. Your employees will be grateful for allowing them to keep a job even when your bottom line is struggling. And remember, there are people and businesses out there that want to help you. What can we do to help? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.