Best practice club – No.1

Personnel Today’s new monthly series by the Best Practice Club reveals how
managers tackle business problems and enhance performance. In this issue John
Aizelwood, improvement manager at McBride, explains how the company transformed
morale at its site in Burnley.

– McBride is a leading international developer of laundry, household
cleaning and personal care products. The company’s factory at Burnley is one of
six manufacturing sites in the UK, employing 350 people and producing household
cleaning products, toilet cleaners, surface cleaners and laundry sachets.

In 1998 the company held its first public opinion and employee morale
surveys. The Burnley site’s results were disappointing and way behind the other
sites within the group. Not only were the staff opinion surveys results
worrying, but the site at Burnley had a poor reputation within the town. This
was attributable to the perceived hire and fire culture at Burnley; backed up
by statistics revealing a labour turnover of over 4 per cent per month.

Soon after the survey, a number of key managers left the group or moved on
to other sites, allowing a new management team to be formed, presenting an
opportunity for change.

How was the problem tackled?

The management team decided that the way forward was to hold listening
groups with a cross-section of colleagues across the site to identify what the
real issues were. This period highlighted three areas for improvement: pride,
communication and involvement.

In response, the company drew up an ambitious 47-point improvement plan.

As a result the Burnley site has introduced a formal appraisal system for
everyone on site, a newsletter, a sponsorship committee that awards money to
local organisations, visits to customers, and annual fun and sports days.

It has also created listening groups and an open business plan that cascades
down into the appraisal system.

The changes include daily team talks and increased visits to the shopfloor
by management, health and safety hit squads, back-to-the-floor management and a
suggestion scheme.

What was the outcome and how will the organisation benefit?

The site’s overheads are now the lowest in the group. Labour turnover is
down to less than 2 per cent per month, which is half the original figure.
Absence levels are also down to 4 per cent. The increased levels of employee
involvement have led to improved efficiency, higher productivity, fewer
problems and better quality.

The success of the progress made by the company was recognised in November
this year, when McBride won The North West Excellence Award for People and
People Results.

How will the project be developed in the future?

The culture has improved to such an extent that creativity and innovation
are actively encouraged among all employees in the pursuit of new ideas.

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