We were invited into a Midwestern galvanizing operation to conduct a supervisory training course for foremen. During the training, the first-line supervisors expressed some concern about the “fact” their bonus system was unfair. They also said that the diverse workforce was dissatisfied with the bonus plan. Workers believed their efforts received inadequate reward and that most of the financial benefit went to supervisors.This galvanizer had several plants. Customer surveys conducted by the management indicated that rapid turn-around time was the key criterion for customers. Since the galvanizing process was the last step before the weather-proofed steel parts were delivered to job sites, construction contractors blamed the galvanizer. The real problem was that many of the fabricators that cut and formed the steel were often late in their deliveries. This fact was ignored by the final customer. As a result, the galvanizer was forced to schedule an excessive amount of overtime to handle rush work. Higher productivity, measured in pounds of product galvanized per hour worked, would ameliorate this problem and speed customer shipments.
Imberman and DeForest again worked with a joint employee/management committee. We devised a single Gainsharing plan that included first line supervisors and hourly employees. It reduced employee suspicion that supervisors were earning an unfair share of the bonus pool. Once workers saw their efforts were fairly rewarded, employee productivity jumped, and on-time shipments reached an all-time high.
The attached chart shows the results.