People often see Lean Six Sigma as a method to ‘make a better workplace’ instead of realizing it is equally an important tool for improving employee engagement. Therefore, it’s important to understand that while selecting the right projects is important, ensuring employee engagement is critical to Lean Six Sigma success.

As a continuous improvement strategy, LSS methods, tools, and processes have the potential to improve employee productivity and performance by engaging them at all levels. In fact, according to the December 2011 post, “Incorporating ‘People Improvement’ in Lean Six Sigma Initiatives,” traditional process improvement methodologies have heretofore focused primarily on driving business performance and customer satisfaction. However:

What is needed to boost lean Six Sigma’s effectiveness is a measurement-based approach to managing and continually improving the contribution of another powerful driver of process performance: people. 

A 2010 study by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and Metrus Group found that  the “organizations receiving the highest marks for successful implementation of quality initiatives and resulting business results are those that”:

  • Have support from top leadership
  • Develop a quality-focused culture
  • Effectively manage employee contribution to performance

The findings from this survey further confirmed that organizations that “focused on and managed employee performance contribution,” saw the biggest success.

During the past few years, there has been considerable research on the relationship between employee engagement and organizational performance. Engaged employees—those highly connected and committed to their organizations’ goals and values—dramatically outperform their peers on numerous measures, including their attention to quality and service.

What Lean Six Sigma has taught us is that the right initiatives develop and teach employees how to eliminate waste, build process consistency, and attain cost savings. The result is higher employee satisfaction and less absenteeism.

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