To remain competitive, companies are improving employee health, happiness and effectiveness
The Toyota Effect series from Toyota highlights the car company’s fundamental mission to share good ideas to positively impact the world. Over the next month, PSFK and Toyota will demonstrate how the company and other thought-leaders are using the power of the collaboration to innovate, and create change for people, society, and the planet. Watch the entire video series to learn how joint efforts are helping organizations approach problems differently to move the world forward
Manufacturing is as ingrained in the American identity as amber waves of grain, and the industry continues to drive a sizeable portion of the U.S. economy even after outsourcing and global competition continues to chip away at it. As we look toward the future state of manufacturing and business processes, organizations are finding new ways to innovate and build upon rather than rest on that history. A part of that process requires that the American worker feels supported in shaping business practices and systems.
ACE Metal Crafts is one legacy company whose success lies in the quality of its employees’ effectiveness. At one stage of its organizational history, ACE recognized how contingent its organizational longevity was on hundreds of team members and their stake in the manufacturing processes, a challenge for many companies operating at scale in a competitive marketplace.
Jean Pitzo, CEO of ACE Metals, admits that when she first took over the business she felt ill-equipped to navigate the new business environment. “From the beginning, I didn’t know how to turn the machines on, I didn’t know how to fabricate anything, I don’t know how to weld, so I had to trust everybody around me because they knew more than I did.”
Commonplace among organizations that operate across multiple departments, ACE’s leadership saw room for improvement and reached out to Toyota for partnership. Through the collaboration, ACE was able to bring to light small and simple steps that could lead to more seamless operations, inspired by the Toyota Production System. With Toyota-assisted tinkering in its manufacturing process, the greater ACE Metal Crafts team members began to view themselves as a company powered by 116 innovators, rather than 116 employees.
The Toyota Effect’s “116 Innovators” film documents how an an organization can fine-tune their processes and take on more business by expanding and empowering its workforce, such as the case for ACE Metals.
As Pitzo puts it, “The entire workforce is more engaged in improving processes, and helping each other. I believe they feel more in control of their own destiny as well as the success of the company.”
The spirit of improving employee happiness and effectiveness can be seen at the core of both small and large businesses, and particularly so as every industry experiences a disruption by technology. As ACE realized, adopting new practices and experimentation is important to improving upon existing company culture.
Some companies are looking to the emerging concept of ‘People Analytics’ as a powerful form of HR. Tech startup Humanyze is a smart employee badge being leveraged in diverse industries that is designed to monitor individual work habits. The tracking tool collects 40 pieces of data daily through a microphone, sensors and Bluetooth in order to help companies understand how behaviors impact overall performance. The wearable, which hangs around an employees’ neck on a lanyard, captures conversation, measures proximity between colleagues and deciphers speech patterns. Data per individual is fed into a dashboard against company-wide data and analyzed in order to provide rapid feedback for areas of improvements. The results of such a tool help leaders understand how employee communication impacts overall business process, empowering bosses with actionable insights to alter longer-term policies and collaboration.
In the vein of wearable technology being leveraged in the workplace, companies are also exploring new avenues for improving safety and efficiencies on the job through augmented reality. AR specialists DAQRI created a Smart Helmet to offer industrial workers physical protection infused with mapping and data capturing to improve the ability to navigate through a construction zone.
The connected work-wear integrates a transparent heads-up display, a 360 camera and sensors to help employees monitor conditions of the environment in real time. Relevant data can be shared across teams to optimize how workers make sense of their environment. The connected tool marries protection and data so organizations can guide their employees to work with quicker processes and fewer errors.
In line with a rising trend to better integrate employee feedback and ownership into company DNA, these organizations are empowering their employees with platforms and tools to help inform best practice systems for the future.