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“For All” Culture Lands Manufacturers Spot on Best Workplaces List

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Fortune Magazine, with its research partner Great Place to Work, has published its list of Best Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production. Now the magazine is celebrating those companies that are sourcing improvement ideas from the frontline to improve value for customers and engagement for employees.

Stryker suggestion boost sustainability, saves millions in supply costs

The medical device manufacturer landed a number one spot on Fortune’s best workplaces list thanks in part to its Shark Tank-inspired innovation challenge. These challenges encourage all employees to present suggestions for improvement to company leadership. Those ideas that show promise receive funding and support for testing and implementation.

It’s an idea that’s hugely helping the company’s bottom line. One of those suggestions, Pulse Ox for the Planet, is saving the plant and saving the company $340 million in supply costs.

The idea came from a suggestion that Stryker ask healthcare organizations to return used pulse oximeters, which check patient heart rate and blood oxygen levels. By reprocessing the single-use devices, the company saves on the cost of manufacturing new devices. Plus, in 2018 alone it diverted 13.2 million pounds of waste from landfills as a result of the program.

JM Family Enterprises shares improvements with Toyota team

The automotive sales company made the Fortune Best Workplaces list for the fourth year in part thanks to its commitment to kaizen. This year, JM Family launched its Doing It Better Showcase (DBIS) as part of its new Associate Appreciation Day. DIBS encourages associates to share ideas for continuous improvement during the executive management team’s annual visit to celebrate branch employees.

At one parts warehouse, the executive team learned that local associates were tracking the parts that frequently arrived damaged. Upon identifying the most common casualties of damage, the team designed packaging improvements. Next, they invited Toyota to visit the plant to learn how they could reduce damaged product.

Given that Toyota has inspired millions to participate in kaizen, we figure the automaker appreciated the input and opportunity to reduce waste.

Mars encourages employees to learn from others’ innovation

Mars Food North America has long celebrated has long appreciated employee innovation—after all, plants within its petcare sister company benefit from the Rever app’s streamlining of employee suggestions. Now the company is looking further afield.

Mars’ Seeds of Change Accelerator provides funding to food and beverage industry startups with potentially disruptive ideas. In 2019, the company reviewed over 200 applicants to select six companies in which to invest.

Mars invited employees to attend its announcement on the six winning companies to get inspired by others’ innovation. As an added bonus, Mars associates will mentor the winners — while learning news ways of operating from their mentees.

How can you harness little improvements that drive big ROIs?

More big manufacturers like these are recognizing the huge benefit that comes from listening to frontline operators. However, companies of any size can benefit from continuous improvement. All you need is a framework through which to encourage employees to suggest, evaluate, test and implement ideas. All that improvement, over time, generates a far greater ROI than waiting for a single innovation.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to structure your Kaizen approach , try a demo today.


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