5S: Improves Productivity and Safety… AND Makes Your Employees Happier

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Blog

By: Bruce Ennis, MEE Cluster Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Have you heard of Lean?

Lean is a business methodology developed by Toyota. It is enormously successful. Today, many of the most successful businesses in the world practice Lean – Boeing, Caterpillar, Starbucks, Nike… and many more.

In the 1980’s American researchers, engineers and academia studied Toyota to find out why they were dominating American giants like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.

They discovered a lot of things. Perhaps the simplest, most impactful thing Toyota did differently was that they were fanatical about cleanliness and orderliness. They had a name for their cleaning and organizing program: 5S.

This was not the case in North America. Here, businesses are commonly crowded, messy, dishevelled and chaotic.

Have you ever worked for a messy and disorganized company?

It is depressing. Like coming home to a messy house, it wears on you mentally – even if you don’t realize it.

It also affects productivity – significantly. Employees spend an inordinate amount of time struggling to find the tools, work instructions, customer information, etc. they need to do their job. 

Let’s look at the benefits of implementing 5S at your workplace.

The Benefits of 5S:

  1. First Impressions Matter
  2. Productivity Improvement
  3. Reduces Fatigue
  4. Improves Mental Health
  5. Improves Safety

1. First Impressions Matter

People make immediate judgements about your business. The first time someone walks into your workplace, they form an opinion.

Maybe that’s not right – but it is how we are wired.

And it’s not just your showroom. It’s your receiving area, manufacturing floor – everywhere. Studies show consumers form strong allegiances and are more likely to patronize your business if it’s clean and organized. That’s a fact!

2. Productivity Improvement

Productivity improves when employees don’t struggle – and the results can be dramatic. Productivity improvements in the order of 25-50% have been realized just by getting clean and organized. When the work area is clean and organized, employees don’t struggle to do their job.

3. Reduces Fatigue

A 2017 study investigated the impact of clean work environments on worker fatigue. Researchers found that improved cleanliness and hygiene in the workplace was associated with reduced fatigue amongst workers. This is a “hidden” benefit of 5S. You are fresher and more alert when surrounded by orderliness –  free from chaos.

4. Improves Mental Health

In a 2011 study conducted by the National Safety Council, researchers found that an organized and clutter-free workplace can improve worker morale and reduce stress, which can in turn lead to fewer accidents and injuries.

The study found workers in an organized workplace were more likely to report feeling productive, safe, and engaged in their work.

5. Improves Safety

When power cords are not strewn across floors, when employees don’t have to climb over things to get what they need, when tools and machinery all have a “home,” safety improves. 5S is a great compliment to any company’s safety program.

The Verdict:

5S improves workplace productivity, mental health and employee morale. It reduces fatigue AND improves safety.

Bosses like it. Employees love it.

Customer’s notice too. The perception of “world class” becomes associated with your business.

5S transforms a business. It costs very little.

What are you waiting for?

The MEE Cluster is committed to helping Western Canadian businesses improve. If you are interested in launching a successful 5S Program at your work area, email us at info@meecluster.ca or call us at 1.403.356.4935.