Monday, March 16, 2009

Improve a process, boost productivity and morale

If you’ve been traveling recently, you’ve probably taken notice of an interesting change in the way airlines do business - cashless flights. Many major airlines are no longer accepting cash for in-flight services and only taking credit.

On the outside it may seem like a simple business decision that modernized a dated process, but for those on the inside it has made a considerable impact on the way they work.

Mark Mader at the Smartsheet blog told a story last week about how Alaska Airlines improved a process that was working “just fine” and found that the change impacted more than just the cost of doing business.

“As I saw the flight attendant slowly make her way to row 26, I thought, "why would Alaska give up the 2-4% margin to the credit card companies?". Following the first beverage service, I headed back to the galley to ask Cindy, the lead flight attendant, what she thought of moving away from the simple cash transaction.”

He asked the flight attendant how the new process has impacted the way she does her job. She answered, "I LOVE it!"

Switching to the cashless process made her job significantly better by eliminating the chance that she’ll forget to give someone their change, having to remember who rented digital movie players and putting an end to the tedious and stressful process of managing cash throughout the flight.

Though most processes are a necessary part of business, some may be more of a burden than a blessing when it comes to helping employees get their jobs done.

If we can find ways to simplify people’s jobs and reduce their stress, whether it’s through streamlining a work process or through employee training, they’ll appreciate it and be happier at work because of it.

Fixing that one tiresome process can snowball from happier employees to an overall improvement in productivity and morale across the company. Find ways to help employees get their jobs done more efficiently and they’ll be saying ‘thank you’ in the quality of their work.

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