Kaizen impact on job satisfaction in manufacturing

Kaizen is the philosophy that everything can be improved: Through many small changes from the workers themselves instead of changes made from other departments, notable research and development. The ideas put forth by workers are small, easy to put into practice requiring low costs to implement. The process of continuous improvement incorporates the whole employee base of the organisation, requiring them to constantly improve their performance.

It helps encourage workers to take ownership for their work, and can help reinforce team working, thereby improving worker motivation

negative impacts: ?

Overworking employees?

Safety at risk from cost cutting?

Fear of change/ losing job through increasing efficiency leading to a decrease in the need of their job.

Positive impacts: ?

Empowerment of employees?

Each employee is more involved in the company, meaning more commitment, interest and job satisfaction.

Based around Toyota

Dee-side, Clwyd plant or Burnaston, Derby plant

Aim of research:

Continuous improvement is a major part of quality management in the UK manufacturing industry. Toyota, for example, has put kaizen to good use to improve the quality of their products for decades however this research project aims to discover if this increase in quality comes at a benefit or negative cost to employee job satisfaction.

research objectives:

1 To identify the positive or negative impacts of kaizen on job satisfaction in the UK.

2 To create a basis for comparison of job satisfaction in the UK from kaizen with other cultures.

Overview of the literature:

How changes in job demands and resources predict burnout, work engagement and sickness absenteeism: A longitudinal survey of 201 Telecom managers supports the job demands-resources model that postulates a health impairment process and motivational process. Initial work engagement predicts an increase in job resources leading to increase in work engagement. This contributes to the study because it demonstrates the relation of changes of job demand and stress. The job demand in this study would be the introduction of kaizen to employees.

Job satisfaction in older workers: This paper analysis the relationship between job allocation, wages and job satisfaction from Data for The Netherlands. This study came to five conclusions: That the satisfaction with the job content is the main factor explaining overall job satisfaction; the effects of individual and job characteristics on job satisfaction differ by the aspect of the job considered; it is relevant to consider the joint relation between wages and job satisfaction; and skill mismatched do not seem to affect job satisfaction. This is relevant to my study because it suggest that a percentage older people may not find kaizen helpful or want to welcome the change because they see it as an increase on job demand. However this study took place in The Netherlands, so can be used in comparison to this UK study.

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The Relationship between job satisfaction and national culture: Taking data from the European Employee Index and the Hofestede’s national scores on five dimensions of national culture, this paper aims to report on the differences between job satisfaction and national culture. The analysis demonstrates that national culture does influence result of job satisfaction studies. This study helps build a basis for comparison of job satisfaction from kaizen with other cultures. A Further reference to pursue is ‘Hofestede’s national scores on five dimensions of national culture’.

The effect of Japanese kaizen on employee motivation in U.S. Manufacturing: The US Manufacturing industry has witnessed great gains in productivity as a result in the adoption of kaizen: This paper determines if this has had any effect on increasing employee motivation. A study of 236 production employees from three facilities suggest that this adoption has lead to job enrichment and a rise in motivation. The relationship between job enrichment coupled with motivation and that of job satisfaction is interlinked, therefore can assist in this study. This also serves as a resource for comparison for achieving the study’s third research objective.

Kaizen strategy and the drive for competitiveness: challenges and opportunities: This paper revisits the model of Kaizen to evaluate how much of an impact its adoption has made on the competitiveness between organisations. The kaizen model can substantially contribute to continuous improvement. However for its adoption to be successful their must be a suitable culture instilled in the organisation that promotes creativity .This provides the theory behind what kaizen is and to provide a thorough understanding of how Kaizen should be undertaken.

Organisational culture and Job satisfaction: This research analyses the impact of different organisational cultures on job satisfaction. They found that job satisfaction was positively related to clan and adhocracy cultures, and negatively related to market and hierarchy cultures. This research paper presents the framework of different organisational cultures and their affect on job satisfaction. Therefore making this relevant to this study. By understanding the framework of an organisational cultures effects, whether that culture includes the use of kaizen or not.

Kaizen and technology transfers instruction as work-based learning facilities in overseas transplants: This study involve the concept of kaizen and its implementation in overseas Toyota facilities. This case study also discusses the problems that have to be overcome by the instructors as they face different cultures. This is an applicable case study to this research proposal because it documents the cultural differences that Toyota kaizen instructors had to overcome, the changes that it made would lead to a change in job satisfaction as each job role is augmented with additional responsibilities.

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Personal goal facilitation through work: implications for employee satisfaction and well being.: This study is bases on the premise that ‘one’s job facilitates the attainment of one’s personal goals’. This study involved a questionnaire study of 1,036 health care workers. This gives quantitative evidence that job satisfaction is made through making and for filling personal goals. This gives evidence that Kaizen can have a positive impact on job satisfaction.

The Japanese management model: This article gives a detailed insight into Japanese management styles and their distinct interest in workers knowledge. To provide a background in theory and to act as a framework for how kaizen works, its development and how it is meant to be employed in its home culture.

Measuring the intangible: Development of the spirit at work scale: This proceeding has put forth the spirit at work scale, this explores four factor: encouraging work, sense of community, spiritual connection and mystical experience. The relevant part of this proceeding is the one of its factors: engaging work, which is done through continuous improvement (Kaizen). The findings of this work show a great improvement in job satisfaction

Research Design:

The study will be conducted with the participation of the production workers at the Toyota production plant in Dee-side, Clwyd in Wales near Cheshire.

Social surveys will me handed to the production workers and not managers. This survey will be carried out by four groups (each work group in Toyota totals thirty members) equalling one hundred and twenty workers which would provide a sufficient sample size for this study. To tackle to time constraint problems, these surveys will be in a multiple choice format. Aimed to be quick and simple for the production workers so that it doesn’t interfere with their work, therefore allowing easier negotiations with Toyota to conduct study there. This will be conducted in one day at the employees break times.

This study will also conduct some qualitative research to complement the quantitative results. This is to improve understanding of the level of job satisfaction felt by the production employees. This will involve interviews with production employees with in depth questioning of their opinions experiences and feelings towards kaizen and their job satisfaction. The interview process will question one work group of thirty workers- chosen at random out of the four work groups who were involved in the survey, each for ten minutes totalling 5 hours in interview time. This will be conducted in one day from nine o’clock to one o’clock that afternoon.

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The benefits of using interviews in this study are: A lot of depth of information regarding personal feelings and opinions can transferred more easily by the interviewee rather than completing multiple choice questions. Interviewee can be questioned in more detail specific to each person, to probe and to understand their thoughts, feelings and opinions better. This can however be time consuming and would be harder to negotiate with Toyota to allow their workers time off from their duties. Therefore these interviews will be short aimed at ten minutes each. Their will also have to be time set aside to decipher the answers from interviewees if they are misleading or difficult to standardise and relate to the surveys.


Honesty and integrity must be attained from the interviewees. Problems therefore may be encountered as they may feel their jobs are at risk if they speak ill of company policies and practices. To overcome this problem this issue, each survey and interview will conducted in strict confidence with informed consent from each worker allowing them to refuse the interview. In this situation another work group will be randomly selected until all groups agree to be interviewed. No camera equipment will be allowed into the room where the interview takes place, only a tape recorder and laptop to write the transcript to protect their identities.

Problems and risks:

Potential problems that could surface in this study include: The refusal of access to Toyota’s facilitates in Dee-side, Clwyd and their employees. To overcome this, the study would take place at their alternative Toyota manufacturing site located at Burnaston in Derbyshire. This change would have little to no effect on the outcome of the study.

In the event that the interview transcripts are lost or the sound recording data is damaged, back up sound recording equipment will be sourced and transcripts will be Continuously save work onto portable hard drive. Additional surveys will be taken on site, in case of replacements being needed.

Upon the occurrence of the refusal to questioning at interview level by workers the work group would be offered anonymity instead of confidentiality, if this doesn’t succeed a new work group will be random selected out of the other three work groups.

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Type of Paper
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(275 words)