According to your Webster's Dictionary, morale is defined as the state of the spirits of a person or group as exhibited by confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and willingness to perform assigned tasks. How important is "good morale" to your business? How detrimental is "poor morale"?
As all of you Lean Leaders know, one of the primary ways Toyota regularly measures morale is by the number of employee suggestions. When the number of employee suggestions are low, one can conclude that the "state of the spirits" of your group is low. Their confidence, cheerfulness, discipline and willingness are also low! So, how many employee suggestions do you average per shift? Per day? Per week? Per year? I like to think of suggestions as how to measure the sense of ownership in your business. Conversely, it can also be a terrific measure of employee-ism (we just work here).
If you are like most, you can count the number of employee suggestions easily. TOO easily. To change that, we tried giving prizes for suggestions. We encouraged and encouraged some more. Still an empty box. Then I started doing A3.
A3, as you know, can also be called rapid kaizan. Small continuous movement toward flow. Do you REALLY want to know what the problems are? Then REALLY listen after you go ask. These ARE employee suggestions. (Half the time, people won't bother telling you because they know you won't really listen). Think of the process of A3 as the ability to MAKE a suggestion to improve a process, plus the license to get it DONE. Not alone, but with a handpicked temporary work team of between 3 and 5 people. Everyone learns how to solve problems and share what they've learned with their peers. People are together more....this alone will impact morale in a positive way.
Approximately half of the hundreds of A3s I have been involved with are assigned. The other half are people volunteering to fix your business! And all you have to do is listen, then support them any way you can! Show me a company doing dozens (sometimes hundreds) of A3s per year and I'll show you a fast, fun company with a high measure of ownership!