Continuous improvement and employee attitudes in a manufacturing concern
Vahed Prevashini, Prevashini
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Continuous improvement as a business philosophy and quality management strategy has become the choice of many organisations world-wide. It is a concept filled with the promise for excellence in quality, customer service distinction and business efficiencies. Continuous improvement philosophies like Lean Manufacturing, promote tools, techniques and a culture of quality values that have the potential to create a dynamic business environment, capable of seizing opportunity, predicting failures and surpassing competition. Why then, are these organisations that are so vehemently pursuing continuous improvement initiatives with concerted efforts not reaping the rewards that have been successfully achieved by a monumental few great organisations? According to the literature study, failure to implement continuous improvement (CI) programs successfully stems from a lack of focus on the soft side of continuous improvement efforts. The soft issues that are considered vital to successful implementation include an employee’s quality cultural values and an organisations soft key success factors for CI implementation. This study focused on how these soft variables have an impact on employee attitudes such as job satisfaction, employee commitment, intentions to quit and work success. The theoretical research conducted in this study focused on continuous improvement cultural values and the key soft success factors for CI implementation impact on work related attitudes like job satisfaction, employee commitment, intentions to quit and work success. The empirical study was conducted on 149 employees in a multi-national manufacturing company. A questionnaire was distributed throughout the entire company to verify how the theoretical and empirical data compared. The study concluded that the specific cultural value of shared vision and goals was a significant predictor of all four work related attitudes, whilst other cultural values of purpose and continuous improvement also proved to be significant predictors. The study concluded that key soft success factors like leadership, training and development and job security were significant predictors of employee commitment, whilst communication and job security were significant predictors of job satisfaction. Thus, work related attitudes like employee commitment is greater when employees identify and exhibit favourable quality cultural values and also when employees perceive that their organisation possess essential key soft factors for successful CI implementation. Incorporating these findings into recommendations will allow for organisations implementing CI programs, to develop the soft issues of CI that have a beneficial impact on work related attitudes that lead to successful and sustainable continuous improvement efforts.