5 Ways for Continuous Improvement in the Workplace

With the development of a company’s employees and business processes, it becomes possible to keep up with innovations. At this point, one of the ways that companies keep up with the times and innovations is to have a culture of continuous improvement within the company. For this reason, regardless of the size of the company, improvement works should be carried out regularly and continuously within the company. Continuous improvement, also known as kaizen, allows to do this. 5 ways for continuous improvement (Kaizen) in the workplace in our blog post will show you how to make your business run better and more efficiently.

What is Continuous Improvement (Kaizen)?

Continuous improvement refers to the improvement and development of existing business processes, products and services in order to reduce waste and increase efficiency. In this way, it directs managers and employees to find new opportunities to ensure productivity.

However, continuous improvement does not consist of one-time measures. This is a process, and as the name suggests, improvements need to continue.

Kaizen works in 3 steps:

  1. In the first step, areas for improvement are identified, suggestions are produced and analyzed.
  2. In the second step, improvement suggestions are implemented.
  3. The third step focuses on monitoring and learning that needs to be done. It should be checked whether the applied improvements have the desired effect.

Why Is Continuous Improvement Important in Today’s Workplace?

Implementing continuous improvement in the workplace provides many advantages for employees, customers and companies. Continuous improvement increases employee and customer satisfaction and supports companies in achieving their goals. Although the results of these studies vary depending on the size of the company and scope of application, their general benefits are as follows:

Customer happiness

One of the fundamental principles of continuous improvement is focusing on the customer. Continuous improvement creates a framework for understanding customers’ needs and expectations. Feedback from customers or suggestions from employees provide valuable insight into customer needs. Understanding this as soon as possible helps make informed decisions to save money and ensure customer satisfaction. Ensuring customer satisfaction not only ensures retention of existing customers but also paves the way for gaining new customers.

To understand customer expectations, you can look for answers to some basic questions:

  • What do your customers want?
  • What are the problems your customers face?
  • What is the service or product that is most valuable to the customer?

By answering these questions, it is possible to understand customers’ needs quickly and accurately.

More Employee Participation

In the philosophy of continuous improvement, the thoughts and ideas of employees are very important. Employee loyalty increases when employees feel they are part of improvement activities in a company and see that their ideas are valued. Engaged employees become strong representatives of a company’s change and development process.

Employees affiliated with the company ask “what can I do better?” How could it be better? They look for the best ways to do their job with questions like these. This allows them to work more efficiently and perform better.

Better Quality Products and Services

Continuous improvement increases the value of products and services in the marketplace because it focuses on making small, incremental improvements to improve the quality of products and services. In this way, businesses greatly reduce waste while increasing profits.

Less Waste and Savings

Continuous improvement focuses on achieving greater quality, savings and efficiency by making small changes. The most basic way to do this is to identify and eliminate steps that cause waste in current processes. Eliminating waste makes processes more efficient and saves businesses money and time.

5 Ways to Implement Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement techniques are essential to running a smooth and efficient continuous improvement process. These techniques provide different approaches for improvement efforts and help identify inefficiencies in processes. Continuous improvement tools, when implemented correctly, create a positive impact on processes, services, products and overall company performance.

Now let’s examine the commonly used continuous improvement tools:

1. PDCA Cycle (Plan – Do – Check –Act Cycle)

The PDCA cycle is also called the Shewhart Cycle or the Deming Cycle. The Deming Cycle consists of four stages that eliminate recurring errors and improve processes.

Plan: Identifying a problem or improvement opportunities, understanding the risks, and developing a plan to achieve the goal.

Do: This is the phase where the set plan is implemented.

Check: It is the phase of measuring the final products or service and reporting the results to see whether the plan has achieved the goal.

Act: It is the phase of implementing and re-planning the necessary changes to improve performance based on data analysis. After this stage, the PDCA cycle starts again.

2. 5S Method

5S is a business philosophy that focuses on improving working conditions in companies in terms of safety, cleanliness, comfort and performance. It is used to prevent mess, damage and work accidents in a business.

The 5S method, as the name suggests, is based on 5 basic principles. We can list these principles as sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustation.

Sort: It means separating the tools in the work area as necessary and unnecessary.

Set in Order: Categorizing the allocated tools means placing them in a certain order.

Shine: Keeping the work area and equipment clean.

Standardize: It is the standardization and regular application of the first three items.

Sustain: Making the first four principles of 5S a habit and controlling them.

3. Kanban

Kanban is a method for visually managing and optimizing a workflow. The Japanese term “kanban” means “visual card”. Essentially, it is a system for tracking and organizing the progress of work using cards or notes pasted on a board or clipboard.

4. Gemba

Gemba is a Japanese term meaning “real place” or “place where work is done.” In Gemba, one of the continuous improvement techniques, managers visit the work area. The aim here is for managers to see what is happening in the real working environment, to develop a trust-based communication with field employees and to have discussions on current problems.

5. Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping is a method used to visually depict a business process from start to finish and identify activities of the process that do not create value. This method is used to make the processes of a business or organization more effective and efficient.

What are The 5 Ways in The Continuous Improvement?

Knowing some examples for applying kaizen in the workplace will contribute to your processes. Here are 5 methods for continuous improvement in the workplace and how you can use them in everyday practice:

1. Brainstorm

Brainstorming sessions are types of meetings that bring people together around a common goal. Brainstorming is a great way to get your employees to talk and think clearly. It helps to generate a large number of ideas quickly and efficiently. But they also need to be carefully structured to be most effective. You can start by creating a list of topics you want to discuss. What you need to pay attention to here is to make sure that you offer each participant the opportunity to express their ideas and solutions when addressing a topic that you have identified. You can then discuss and evaluate the viability of these ideas.

2. Surveys

Companies often focus on getting feedback from their customers and suppliers. However, he does not realize that the importance of feedback from employees is also quite large. Conducting a survey with the participation of employees within the company is an efficient method to ensure that points for improvement are revealed. Because a business leader usually focuses on the results of the goals, i.e. the big picture. For this reason, they fail to notice the small details that will affect the efficiency and success of the company. Suggestions from employees are very important as they are the ones who know most about which points need improvement.

3. Training Programs

Today, the world is changing rapidly with the effect of technology. In order to keep up with the emerging innovations, both companies and employees need to continue to develop through lifelong learning. For this reason, you need to contribute to the development of your employees’ skills and abilities by planning targeted training programs for your employees. This makes them versatile. In this way, you protect the continuity of business processes in cases such as an employee’s illness or leave.

4. Skills Management

In the continuous improvement process, skill management is of great importance. If you want to focus on improvement processes, you need to know what your employees are doing and not doing. This will give you detailed information on what you need to do to monitor and develop employees’ knowledge, skills, expertise and experience.

Skills management will also help your company in other ways. For example;

  • You can easily find extra manpower when an employee is sick or on leave.
  • Your business processes will not be interrupted.

5. Time Control

One of the most important resources of a company is time. For this reason, you need to arrange the time of the employees so that they carry out their business processes as efficiently as possible. Measuring the time it takes employees to complete a job is a good way to determine where a process needs to be optimized. With these metrics, you can save time for an employee, reduce a time for an employee, and even automate a process through software.

With the Continuous Improvement Solution, it is possible to manage your continuous improvement activities efficiently and effectively.

Continuous Improvement Solution is a platform that brings companies’ continuous improvement processes to digital. Platform; It brings together seven different modules on a single platform: Suggestion System, Kaizen, 5S Audit, Near Miss Reporting, Lessons Learned, Action Management and Help Desk. Company employees can easily access the system via mobile, web or QR codes, share their valuable suggestions anytime, anywhere and easily manage continuous improvement processes.

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