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ResourceMFG | Manufacturing Workforce Specialists
Employee burnout: What does the Shingo model really offer?

As an employer, you're always going to battle fatigue and disinterest within your workforce, whether someone's new to the business or they've been there for 30 years. Yet, we all know that burnout is a rising concern. The coming recession will make it worse as people look more closely at what they're getting from a job, both in terms of sufficient pay and satisfaction. How can your culture cope with more stress, even compared to the pandemic's fallout?

As the UK's Manufacturing Institute articulates, "People are questioning what they value, how they are treated, what brings them happiness, what's worth the fight." In response, the Institute suggests following the Shingo Model: a framework for positive culture change. This was first designed by Dr. Shigeo Shingo, an influential behemoth in the manufacturing industry. Over time, his institute has researched and refined ways to beat burnout at its core, overhauling a culture that employees can feel supported by.

So, what does the Shingo Model propose? And how might it apply to your organization? Let's analyze some key principles:

Lead with Humility

According to Shingo, "A leader's willingness to seek input, listen carefully and continuously learn creates an environment where associates feel respected and energized." In practice, you might want to field quarterly or bi-annual satisfaction surveys with open and closed questions. Once workers fill them out, invite them for a one-to-one catchup with management, digging further into any positive or negative feedback about their job. Watch for any trends and, if necessary, address them in more general team meetings, explaining how you'll improve.

Think Systemically

This helps you understand connectivity between people and processes. In manufacturing, everyone must know how their work affects other roles up and down the conveyor belt. So, in practice, you might aim for additional power, less energy consumption or more reliable components in a machine, but fail to communicate why that outcome forces other tasks to change. Thinking systemically reduces mistakes and stress on the production line. Workers will appreciate the heads up on new goals and methods. They might even proactively assist other, more intensive parts of the process.

Improve Flow & Pull

If employees have what they need when they need it, they're less likely to grow resentful of your management style. Flow and Pull, in the Shingo sense, refers to the tasks that satisfy real demand with minimal waste — both of materials and effort. For example, a just-in-time (JIT) inventory system relies on having the precise materials ready to meet demand, which means you'll have fewer breakdowns and bottlenecks. As long as you have accurate sales forecasting, it's a better blueprint for the work at hand, ensuring staff are never overburdened.

Embrace Scientific Thinking

Leave room for experimentation. What ideas are your junior and mid-level recruits eager to share? A scientific mind set, whereby people enjoy testing new ways to complete their work schedule, can inform your hiring strategy. This is a wonderful trait to look for, because it can empower and inspire everyone they're working with. Plus, it might pay off. Invest in training for the latest manufacturing technology or host creative problem-solving sessions before a team event. Then, if an employee comes up with their own solution, carve some time out to try it.