Shift thinking and great things are possible.

To avoid closure, head office of a manufacturing and assembly plant did something radical. As a result of this radical thinking they managed to:

Reduce accidents. 
Reduce absentees. 
Reduce turnover. 
Reduce customer complaints. 
And become the most productive assembly facility of five, after being first considered for closure.

HOW? By implementing what can only be described as a SOFT initiative:

Against all odds, code name 'Friends at Work' program was begun.
 The operations manager of this 10-year old manufacturing and assembly plant was instructed to sit amongst employees at lunch and on breaks and talk about community events, about bowling and baseball, about weddings and gatherings, about knowing the names of each others family members about coming together on the baseball field or at work. The early conversations were strange and not well received but the manager persevered as she was instructed by head office in a CHANGE or CLOSE order. Beyond the conversations, the company organized a baseball team, they paid for uniforms and pizza gatherings afterward. The company served snacks in the lunchroom at mid afternoon and celebrated birthdays, there was a design contests for each job function to design 
t-shirts which the company produced and then gave 5 t-shirts to every employee - one for every day of the work week.

The budget for the program was $18,000 over one year but there had to be significant enough change at the six month mark to warrant continuing. At about the five and a half month mark the employees started to exhibit comraderie. Once the friendly atmosphere gathered momentum it was unstoppable.
Here is what happened: 

When one person was sick the others took up the slack.

Customer complaints fell dramatically as quality control went up.

When there was down time on a shift, people stood together discussing life or baseball instead of trashing the company.  

Spirits soared.

Turnover dramatically reduced.

The productivity of the assembly line was unequalled in the history of the company – at any plant.

When visitors would come for a tour of the facility they heard whistling and could sense an overall positive vibration.

Employees became a community eating together, working together, playing together. And so what was called the 'Friends at Work' budget, a budget that would never have been approved by a traditional model of RETURN ON INVESTMENT... became the happiness and productivity budget – a true investment in people and the bottom line. 

Can you imagine? Will you imagine it working in your company?
Shift thinking and great things are possible.


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