I love it when we make a real difference for both the employee and the company! This story starts out like so many others in manufacturing plants all over the world. Demand for the product being produced grows, so a facility that might traditionally run Monday through Friday starts doing work on Saturdays. Demand grows further and suddenly production is happening seven days a week.
This was the situation at Keystone Foods’ processing facility in Eufaula, Alabama. Growth was great for business and initially, employees loved making extra money with the overtime that came with the growth. But after a few months of operating everyday – with the only downtime being holidays or unplanned maintenance – employees were getting tired. In a manufacturing environment, tired employees can impact morale, health and safety, and productivity.
Over the course of the previous year, this facility had shut down for only 33 days. That meant that unless an employee took vacation or called in sick, they were only off of work 33 days out of 365!
Keystone’s management team wanted to change that. They wanted to think differently about how employees worked while still maximizing productivity. They brought me and the rest of the Coleman Consulting Group team into the plant to work with both employees and management to find a better schedule. And we did!
The new schedule gives employees a minimum of 104 – and as many as 141 – days off per year. These days off include built-in overtime that many employees requested as a way to maintain higher levels of income. And the new scheduling system gives every employee the ability to work more overtime on a volunteer basis. This was a big success for employees. Jamison Smith, the company’s VP of HR, told us: “We implemented a system that gives everyone what they want – overtime to the people who really want it and more time off for those who don’t. Everyone gets more time off and has the ability to spend more time with family. As a result, we’ve seen a decrease in turnover and have received lots of positive feedback about the new schedule.”
While it may seem that a facility would need to sacrifice production time to give employees more time off, that’s not the case. It’s about finding a more efficient way of scheduling the work, looking at processes, collaborating with the supply chain, and maximizing the hours in a day, week, month, and year. The new schedule allows the plant to do in six days what it used to do in seven, and gives an additional 18-24 hours of capacity for future product growth.
This is why I do what I do. I want to see businesses do things better so more people can spend time with their families and have stable, predictable jobs.