Friday, April 11, 2014

Beyond Compensation: Countering the ‘Checked-out’ Worker

Engaged Employees, Human Capital, Invested Workforce, Holy Grail? That’s what you’d believe if you read the headlines. Finding and keeping employees actively engaged and connected to your business vision is becoming harder to find than the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Types of Workers
Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report identifies three employee types. 
  1. Engaged – These employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward. Some define it as those workers that are psychologically invested in the business and apply discretionary effort in their daily tasks.
  2.  Non-Engaged – These employees are essentially ‘checked-out.’ They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time – but not energy or passion – into their work.
  3.  Actively Disengaged – These employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.
While the global report revealed that only 13% of the world's workforce is in category 1 above, this number gets higher when we look at the U.S., where 30% are actively engaged in the workplace. However, the remaining 70% indicates there is still work to be done.

Today’s working environment
According to a recent report from our friends at Cornerstone On Demand, titled Reimagine Work, today’s work place is more Multi. It’s multi-generational, multi-geographical, and multi-cultural. Much has been made about the substantial number of boomers that will retire in the next 5 – 7 years. This absence will only increase the diversity.

Technology advancements are another driver of change. The constant connectedness we have through social media and personal devices results in more work/life blurring rather than balancing.

What’s a Business to Do?
With the changing face of the American workforce, some of the things that employees desire in the workplace may surprise you. While it would be wrong to not consider adequate compensation, it’s certainly not the sole motivator for employee buy-in, nor is it necessarily the #1 factor in determining job satisfaction. 
  • Team Play and Collaboration – This is one of the top traits employees love about their co-workers. Cornerstone's survey indicate that employees desire a more dynamic workplace, which is more social and fun, particularly because of the aforementioned work/life blurring.
  • Peer to Peer Recognition - is also valued. MTV’s ‘No Collar Workers’ report provides some insight indicating that 92% of Millennials or Gen Y, in the job market think their company is lucky to have them as employees, but they expect feedback and recognition.
  • Deep Desire to Generate New Ideas and Contribute to the Organization - Before the above stat sours you on Millennials understand this, one-third would prefer recognition or a promotion over higher pay. Perhaps a little recognition and feedback from managers and peers would go a long way in keeping them engaged.
  • Constant Learning - In fact, 89% think it’s important to be constantly learning at their job, which gives career ladders and professional development a pivotal role in an employee’s personal job satisfaction ranking. Only 1 in 4 employees surveyed had established career goals with their manager or employer.
Opportunity for Successfully Engaging Your Workforce
The biggest opportunity for businesses is to engage the non-engaged employees. Companies with high employee engagement tend to be significantly more profitable, have higher productivity, with fewer safety incidents and lower turnover. 
  • Lower Turnover – Engaged employees are more satisfied with the job, in tune with the company mission and vision and far less likely to leave the company. If you were to estimate the average cost to recruit and train one employee as 2.5% of the anticipated salary, the cost of losing just one employee would be significant. This doesn’t begin to identify the cost of business strain from carrying actively disengaged employees.
  •  Increased Profitability/Productivity – These two concepts are intrinsically linked. Engaged employees are happier, more invested in the business, and more importantly, actively looking for a better way to get things done. They are incredibly efficiency focused. Organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 147% higher earnings per share compared with their competition.
  •  Lower Absenteeism and fewer safety incidents – Satisfied employees, invested in and recognized for, improvement efforts and contributing new ideas, are more inclined to come to work. If processes are running smoothly and efficiently, there is less opportunity for accidents and violations to occur. According to OSHA, workplace injuries and illnesses have a major impact on an employer’s bottom line. It has been estimated that employers pay almost 1 Billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. 
Next Steps
Before you can act, you have to analyze and understand your current situation. An employee survey is a great way to take the pulse of your organization. From there, you can form an action plan to implement.

Still not convinced? Don’t take my word for it. Instead, come and join us on May 1st for a breakfast briefing and panel discussion as your peers share the benefits they experiences from successfully engaging their workforce. Click here for more information or to hold your spot at the table.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Competitive Advantage of Quality Certifications

A Michigan business that provides high-quality design and engineering concepts to the aerospace industry experienced a 30% increase in revenue. The reason? The organization obtained AS 9100 certification, a recognized and well-respected quality management certification.

There has been a renewed focus from Michigan’s manufacturers on quality management systems (QMS)…and rightfully so! As manufacturing expands in Michigan, competitive pressures have also increased. Customers are looking closer at registration or certification to particular standards as a differentiator in supplier selection. Which means if you want to keep your current customer, or attract new ones, you may need to be registered or certified to the appropriate standard.

When a manufacturer obtains a certification, particularly a well-respected and widely recognized one such as ISO, AS or OHSAS, it signifies that the company is complying with international standards. Industrial customers use these standards as the bottom line factor to validating that suppliers can meet their quality needs. These standards are designed to ensure that a manufacturer is dedicated to consistently delivering quality parts, products and services, embraces continuous improvement and is committed to customer satisfaction throughout the entire manufacturing and distribution process.

ISO Standards are also reviewed at least once every five years to verify that they remain compliant with any applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and continue to be a relevant document instilling consumer confidence that compliant organizations consistently provide quality products and services.

In its last report, the International Organization for Standardization noted that the number of organizations opting for ISO certification is steadily increasing. If you do not currently have a certification, you should consider its key benefits:

Market Advantage

Since industrial customers use QMS registration or certification as a bottom line or deciding factor, registration can be a market advantage. More precisely lack of registration is often the difference between winning the work or not. Without registration, you might not even get a chance to bid on a job. Having multiple registrations allow you more flexibility and a greater chance for market penetration success.

Reduction in Quality Audits

If industrial customers are not comfortable, or confident in your abilities, they often will perform an audit at your location. Their purpose is to protect their product and their customer. More often than not, multiple customers will result in multiple customer audits. Achieving registration and demonstrating a properly functioning QMS could lead to fewer and less dramatic customer audits. To be sure, you will be auditing yourselves, and your registrar will be auditing you, but those audits are generally planned and tend to be a lot less intrusive. If you are regularly auditing yourself, even an unexpected surveillance audit should see you passing without a single nonconformance.

 Improve Employee Engagement and Communication

A crucial component of quality management systems: employee involvement. Raising quality awareness among employees and making them part of quality management systems will improve communication across the company, and help management teams find better ways to address and solve issues hindering organizational progress. A properly maintained QMS will tie business goals directly to employee tasks so they will have a better understanding of why things are done. This increases their personal involvement and job satisfaction, particularly if they are invited to play a role in creating and maintaining the QMS. Additional benefits include overall quality improvements, scrap and rework reductions, increases in on-time delivery, and potential retained and additional sales from customers seeking certified partners.

Start the Process Today

MMTC provides Michigan’s manufacturers with a cost-effective approach to take the necessary steps to achieve certifications. MMTC can help with the following: 
  • ISO 9001 (CEU Credits: 2.1*)
  • ISO/TS 16949 (CEU Credits: 2.1*)
  • ISO 13485 (CEU Credits: 2.8*)
  • AS 9100 (CEU Credits: 2.1*)
  • ISO 14001
  • ISO 17025
  • ISO 50001
  • Nadcap
  • TL 9000
  • OHSAS 18001
* CEUs are earned during the Internal Auditor training portion only

For more information about MMTC's Quality Management programs, please visit our Quality Management System Preparation and Implementation page or contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five Things I’ve Learned from Michigan Manufacturers

As a training and consulting organization, our staff interacts with a lot of Michigan businesses of all types and sizes. Either we’ll send our people out to the plant floor to conduct some hands on training or manufacturers send their people to us, for simulations, working groups, and interactive learning in our Real Factory . . . but when we’re together, we’re often working toward a goal or implementing an improvement project so we don’t get the whole story.

Thankfully, there are times when we host a tour or invite guests in to hear the whole story. And gratefully, I’ve been able to participate in quite a few. As an avid reader, I love a good story. As a manufacturing specialist, I love manufacturing success stories, especially when they’re from our clients.

This week we opened our doors to some very special guests. Bill Henderson was here from Aircraft Precision Products, Patricia Yulkowski came down from Total Door, and Ed Terris popped in from Peckham. They came to share their stories, and what great stories they shared. Allow me to make a brief shout out to our February guests, Kurt Hochrein from Dexter Research, Erick Stewart of Stewart Industries, and Bryan Domschot from Tec-Option.

Now, on to lessons learned. 
  1. Just because something doesn’t work the way you expect it to, is not a guarantee that it doesn’t work at all. One of our panelists talked about a product modification for a client. In the process of trying to address the need, an idea was born that, while not addressing the need directly, has led to a new, direct to consumer, product launch, its first of many.
  2. Be certain you really are working toward the same goal, before you launch an initiative. Another panelist, was quick to reference MMTC as a partner on their improvement journey. As an objective observer, with a depth and breadth of knowledge about manufacturing processes, MMTC can definitely help. However, the lessons is this - each one of those partnerships worked because the company’s team was in agreement on what they wanted to accomplish. If you need to make a change in your facility but can’t get your people on the same page – it won’t matter how good your solution is, or how tried and true your improvement, or even how great your partner is, chances are it won’t be sustainable.
  3. Change, for the sake of change, is doomed to fail, but so is not doing anything at all. Improvement projects sometimes take on a ‘flavor of the month’ feel and can be met by skepticism. You can’t make a process change without spending a little something, whether it’s time or money, and there’s a limit to both. If you say yes to one thing, you have to say no to another. Common sense, right? So, if it makes good business sense to do something, then it makes good sense, period! Organizing your plant floor into work cells, tracking work in process (WIP) to visually see where process bottlenecks exist, these are things that can make sense if implemented, but you’ll never get that opportunity, if you don’t try.
  4. Finding the right partner can make all the difference. One of our panelists shared its market struggles and the need to completely recreate its business model, from upgrading equipment to revamping the plant layout and rewriting process steps. This company contracted with MMTC for the layout and process improvements, but they also worked with other great and knowledgeable partners about machine upgrades, new technologies, and construction expertise. All these partners, working together and sharing information, helped to make the move to the new facility a virtually pain free experience.
  5. Implementing a business solution does not guarantee you the same results as the company next door, but it does guarantee you results. Every company thinks its process, product, or industry niche makes them unique and special. And while this may be true, it’s also true that process improvements apply to every business, no matter how special. While we can't say that improvements will be the same from shop to shop or even from work cell to work cell, one thing that is assured, there WILL be positive impact. It’s hard not to see bottom line improvements or increased throughput when people are recognized for their achievements. When everyone is working together to make things better, employees catch the enthusiasm and excitement from each other. Each positive outcome creates more opportunity for improvement.
For more on these and other great Michigan companies, check our success stories or our Proud to Manufacture in Michigan pages, highlighting manufacturers and our friends around the state.

We’re scheduled to do this again with different customers but similar great stories, on May 1st.  The focus is on employee engagement. Come learn with me. I hope to see you there.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at