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Amazing ways Lean Six Sigma can reduce workplace absenteeism

By kyle toppazzini
Posted Jul 11, 2012 in Business
This blog describes ways in which Lean Six Sigma can be used to reduce workplace absenteeism.
The facts are:
In 2011, the Huffington Post reported that U.S. businesses lose 153 billion dollars a year in productivity related to employees taking time off due to illness.
In 2012, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation revealed a Canadian Federal Government report stating that sick days cost the Government one billion dollars per year.
The same report indicated that Canadian businesses paid approximately 400 million dollars in lost productivity related to employee absenteeism due to health reasons
Can Lean Six Sigma Help to lower absenteeism?
People do get sick; however, Lean Six Sigma is one of the possible tools to decrease lost productivity due to sick days, and hence the cost to the company. Here is how:
1. Increasing employee satisfaction and moral
Many empirical studies (Hrebiniak & Roteman, 1973, Oldham,1986, Nicholson, 1971) have found a negative relationship between job satisfaction and the number of sick days taken by an employee. In other words, employees who have higher job satisfaction, take fewer sick days.
Lean Six Sigma initiatives focus on developing and teaching employees the tools that can be used to eliminate waste, reduce process variation, and achieve cost savings. Employees with these capabilities are able to quickly identify process issues, develop and implement solutions, and see how their contributions play a role in organization’s successes. All of the above result in higher employee satisfaction and less absenteeism.
2. Increasing employee engagement
A study conducted by Right Management in which nearly 30,000 employees from 15 different countries were surveyed, it found a strong positive relationship between employee engagement and organizational performance and a positive relationship between engagement and employee attendance. Furthermore, there are more than 100 studies suggested that the positive relationship between organizational performance and employee engagement as stated in Tony Schwartz’s article published in the Harvard Business Review , entitled “What it takes to be a great employer”.
Lean Six Sigma has been a contributing factor to the success of many organizations, such as 3M, Amazon , General Electric, Home Depot, Xerox, the US army, Marine Corps and navy. Organizations around the world have saved millions of dollars and have seen improvements in performance through the deployment of Lean and/or Six Sigma process methodologies, e.g. General Electric claimed 2.5 billion dollars in annual benefits, Motorola saved 16 billion over 11 years, Honeywell saved 1.87 billion over 3 years, and Ford saved 1 billion over 2 years.
Since Lean and/or Six Sigma improves organizational performance, which leads to increasing employee engagement that correlates with employee attendance, it is reasonable to conclude that Lean and/or Six Sigma engagements would likely to improve employee attendance.
3. Increasing capabilities to deal with operational pressures
Factors, such as stress, long work hours, and overworked, are possible to contribute to increased employee absenteeism. To avoid this from happening, aside from mandated vacation time, health and wellness programs in the workplace, employers may control the amount of over time performed by an employee and hire more employees. This, however, increases cost to the employers.
Another possible less costly option is to use Lean Six Sigma techniques, which are used to eliminate unnecessary and non-value added tasks within the process that often add to employees’ stress levels. Lean Six Sigma can also be used to optimize the flow of production, balance employee demand loads, increase process throughput and decrease the amount of variation in the process.
Lean Six Sigma projects, if implemented correctly, result in stable, predictable processes with increased capacity and performance. Employees are able to complete their tasks in less time; as a result, over time is not needed. The probability of burnout is reduced, and so is absenteeism.
Concluding thoughts
Lean Six Sigma is not the only solution that is required to lower employee absenteeism, other solutions, such as programs/initiatives promoting positive office environment, and employees’ health and wellness, should also be in place. Lean Six Sigma, however, provides many positive benefits that would lower the amount of absenteeism in the workforce.
This post has explained another reason why companies should consider implementing Lean Six Sigma.

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