In 2018, Pella Corporation suffered high turnover as a result of employees working as many as 58 hours a week with only 1 day off to rest and recover. The normal schedule for both day and night shifts was 8 hours from Monday-Friday, with the night shift starting on Sunday night. As demand increased seasonally, employees worked as many as 10 hours on weekdays and/or an additional 8 hours on Saturdays. The plant management team at the Murray, KY plant took steps to give employees a break from the relentless workload by ensuring they were given at least 1 out of every 4 Saturdays a month off and by limiting Wednesday shifts to 8 hours. Demand for certain product lines meant that this level of work would continue into the foreseen future. Turnover was high and very costly for Pella.
INDUSTRY: Manufacturing (doors & windows)
WORLDWIDE EMPLOYEES: approx. 7,000 employees
REVENUES: $1.6 billion
PRODUCTION: 15 manufacturing plants
HEADQUARTERS: Pella, Iowa
Most of the windows and doors produced by Pella are custom orders with a very short delivery time.
That means that production demand can swing from very high to very low without warning. The workforce had to be flexible to best match the daily workload. The existing practice meant that some weeks, plants were cutting employees back to 32 hours and other weeks, employees were expected to work 56 hours. Studies consistently show that work in excess of 48 hours a week for five or more consecutive weeks results in a significant reduction in productivity. Analysis of various production lines in Murray confirmed that there was as much as a 20% loss in productivity on the lines when demand was heaviest. In fact, the facility had experienced lower production rates in 2018 than in 2017 as a result of compounded overtime and
obvious burnout of employees.
The new schedule at Pella gives employees a minimum of 104 and as many as 156 days off per year.
Within a month of implementing the new night shift schedule, average output increased 18% and
efficiency was up 19% over the same period prior to the change. After implementation of the new
schedules, Pella saw a reduction in turnover by more than 50%! As new jobs have been posted,
applications are up over previous months, pointing to the new schedules as one good reason to work at Pella. Hiring for the third shift went from nearly impossible to an increase of 35 hours from an applicant
pool that is greatly improved. By blending Business Needs, Employee Desires and Health & Safety,
Coleman Consulting Group was able to implement a schedule at the Murray, KY site that not only meets
their current demand but can also be adjusted to meet future demand and growth. These results are a
long-term win for both Pella's management team and their workforce.
One of the biggest challenges that Coleman Consulting Group faced was convincing operations leaders that reducing employee work hours would actually increase efficiency. The second big hurdle was striking a balance between the need for increased capacity and the need for flexibility in production to handle
the big swings in demand. The new schedule solution allows production demand to vary from as low as
80 hours and as high as 119 hours per week. Additionally, it gives the management team a way to
increase capacity by 50% in single-shift production areas without adding an entire shift of people. The night shift schedules had become very hard to staff, so Coleman consultants designed schedules that gave third shift employees very predictable time off. With employees getting up to three days off per week and still earning a 40-hour paycheck, interest in being a third shift employee was expected to rise significantly. The transition to new schedules would require support areas to adjust so that product flow and work in progress could keep up. The entire facility had to be trained to support the change.
“The Coleman Consulting process analytically showed us that our (old) schedules created inefficiencies and lost productivity. Surveying and involving the workforce allowed us to focus on schedules that helped us improve productivity and efficiency without creating the risk of overstaffing.
We really created a great model for future product growth and product line expansion.”
-Joel Dobson, Senior Productivity Manager and former Plant Manager for Murray site