Workforce Productivity Figures
Investment in workforce communications and larger change programs has a clear, quantifiable impact on corporate returns. Although the preponderance of related research speaks to the more general or indirect association between such initiatives and corporate performance (e.g., Entrepreneur, Society for Human Resource Management, Grant Thornton, Harvard), the research team curated eight examples of leading organizations that have realized quantitative gains in workforce productivity and safety as well as overall organization returns through discrete communication and change initiatives. The details of these programs and their tangible results are summarized below.
- FedEx achieved returns of between 1,447% and 1,660% related to both employee productivity and safety through a series of communications initiatives targeting the company’s export sales, claims and trucking teams, per the International Association of Business Communicators, communications consultant Poppulo and leadership development consultant Jim Shaffer Group.
- In response to the findings of an executive communication assessment, FedEx’s CEO and larger executive team initiated a new program with the company’s internal communications organization to “improve business results” through targeted employee communications.
- As a first step, the team implemented a plan to “reduce or eliminate communication breakdowns” that were hindering the performance of the company’s export sales team in Los Angeles.
- Notably, this trial communication program resulted in a 23% increase in sales from the export team in just 90 days and an overall return of 1,447%.
- Subsequently, the communication program was replicated across five additional FedEx export sales teams, which resulted in a $6.1 million increase in associated sales and a 1,660% overall return on investment.
- Ultimately, the scope of the new initiative was broadened to include employee communication programs for other divisions within the FedEx organization, including claims and trucking.
- These efforts achieved similarly substantial improvements in employee productivity and safety, such as the 25% reduction in truck freight claims at FedEx’s Memphis hub and the 54% reduction in truck accidents at the company’s Houston operation.
- Manufacturing company ITT Inc. realized a 1,148% return through workforce productivity improvements following the implementation of a new financial literacy communications program, according to the International Association of Business Communicators.
- After recognizing that most of its workforce didn’t understand how the company measured performance or how employee decisions influenced profitability, ITT’s internal communications organization designed a “business and financial management communication strategy” for the workers in its Lancaster, PA manufacturing plant.
- In particular, the communication program emphasized meetings with employees, which included sharing the details of ITT’s financial reporting and explaining how worker decisions could directly affect ITT’s operating income.
- Not only did the initiative improve overall workforce well-being by supporting the financial literacy of employees, but it directly translated into a 38% increase in on-time deliveries, a 7.1% productivity increase and an overall return of 1,148%.
- ConAgra Brands is another widely cited example among industry experts (e.g., International Association of Business Communicators, Poppulo, Jim Shaffer Group) for how companies can achieve measurable improvements in employee productivity and well-being through larger change programs.
- As part of a wider effort to improve worker safety across the company, ConAgra’s communication team established a working group with the company’s operational leadership and employees to understand and address the root causes of safety issues at the company.
- One outcome of the working group was a “comprehensive communication strategy” on accident reduction, including the installation of safety scoreboards in prominent plant locations and the execution of related daily huddles among plant employees.
- Additionally, the company added specific positions to focus on safety and adjusted incentive compensation to prioritize accident resolution.
- These comprehensive changes resulted in significant productivity and safety gains at the program’s pilot location, including the reduction of incident rates at the plant from 10 to 2 within one year, the elimination of $150,000 in workers compensation and inefficiency costs and gains of $150,000 due to improved enhanced production quality.
- Overall gains at the Midwest US operation amounted to a 65% reduction in damage, a 35% improvement in workplace injuries and a 16% jump in productivity.
- Following these results, the program was expanded to ConAgra Brands on a “companywide” basis.
- BMW was similarly highlighted by advisory company Grant Thornton for the substantial return on investment it achieved through a larger change initiative targeting worker well-being and productivity.
- As part of the company’s larger “Today for Tomorrow” initiative, BMW invested in creating a better working environment across its factories in Germany.
- Specific enhancements included installing flooring that would be healthier for workers’ joints, providing ergonomic chairs with telescoping capabilities for workers who regularly spent all day standing and supplying older employees with orthopedic shoes.
- In parallel, BMW paid for physiotherapists to spend time in BMW factories and provide counseling for employees on “stretching, ergonomics, and nutrition.”
- The company also made organization shifts to facilitate a healthier working environment, including pairing older and younger workers as part of teams on assembly lines.
- Notably, the initial cost outlay associated with these changes amounted to only $45,000, but yielded immediate health and well-being benefits for employees, who in return delivered a 7% increase in productivity.
- In a fashion similar to ConAgra, the change program was deemed a success and subsequently implemented across BMW’s “factories around the world.”
Other Noteworthy Examples
- Earthgrains/Sara Lee achieved an 8% productivity improvement in its Chicago bakery after launching a joint communications program involving both the company’s leadership team and its internal communications department, per the International Association of Business Communicators and the Jim Shaffer Group.
- Google implemented a new program to help new hires “get settled,” resulting in a 2% productivity improvement valued at approximately $400 million annually, according to LinkedIn.
- Owens Corning realized a 700% return on investment through a communication and change program, including an 8.5% productivity improvement and $737,400 reduction in annual costs, per the International Association of Business Communicators and the Jim Shaffer Group.
- Kiewit launched a communications program in a large distribution center in Indiana which successfully reduced damage by 65% and improved worker productivity by 16%, according to the International Association of Business Communicators and the Jim Shaffer Group.