LEAN Helps Improve Productivity and Morale with Olympic Pride

January 16, 2009

By Wil Lington

When the economy starts heading for trouble many companies immediately start looking for ways to cut costs. Unfortunately, one of the first things they do is reduce their work force since labor is a one of the larger costs most companies, especially manufacturers have. The irony is that labor is also a company’s most valuable asset and that the more people that lose their jobs, the worse the economy—and their bottom line—will get. This is something that The Willington Companies is critically aware of. They realize there are better ways to reduce costs and are determined to make cutting labor the last possible choice.

The Willington Companies began its Lean manufacturing journey back in September 2007. Lean manufacturing is a practice that allows a company to look at the source of their expenditures and find logical ways to decrease costs by reducing waste and increasing productivity. Willington knew that it was vital to eliminate waste and increase efficiency to become more competitive in the global marketplace, but they also looked at Lean manufacturing as a growth strategy. They had made remarkable accomplishments which have created room for greater capacity without increasing costs. Of course, business always has cycles and no company is immune to the ups and downs of the economy.

A poor economy creates stress for employees and business owners alike and that stress can hinder productivity and creativity. In order to combat this negativity and increase employee morale the Willington Companies held a Lean Olympics back in early December. The Olympics took place two hours each day over a five day period and every employee was involved on a team. The teams all evaluated each other’s progress at the end of the week as to which teams accomplished the most. Gold, Silver and Bronze winners were chosen and each team received an appropriate reward. Of course, everyone who participated won in more ways than one and were awarded an extra paid day off during the holidays.

Recently, the University of Connecticut honored The Willington Companies as the Best Family Business of 2008. Willington has always been a great place to work and they were honored for the respect and recognition they provide their employees. Beyond that, they have made great strides with the implementation of Lean manufacturing processes that have greatly improved efficiency. The Willington Companies is positioning itself for a promising future when the economic tide turns back towards more profitable conditions. Meanwhile, they’re defying conventionality by continuing to invest in their employees and working towards continuous improvement.