Human Resource Policies and Practices

A critical important issue in Lean success in gaining the focus of leaders is the relationship between the human resources (HR) policies and practices and Lean implementation. These policies and procedures can serve as a tool that supports the process or a barrier to process improvement. Human resource policies set the stage for whether an employee believes that engagement in the organization is supported and safe. These policies can provide empowerment to employees when it comes to giving them a feeling of safety in giving open and honest feedback to management on innovative ways to improve process and on issues as they arise. The HR department interacts virtually with every part of the company, which makes it an ideal group to be a powerful ally in Lean implementation. For example, The HR department can help in conducting training sessions and awareness campaigns for employees. It is very important that employees understand how to perform their roles after process changes have taken place. One of the most important things that must happen in implementing Lean is the awareness of workers on the activities taking place in the organization. It is essential that the HR department actively supports all aspects of Lean transformation. A list of the critical roles that the HR department may perform that can impact Lean implementation is documented in Table 4.1.

Human Resources Role in Lean






Train employees on the new process or technology or training to be able to take on another role in the company

There are times when implementing Lean, the end result is that employees may be displaced because systems and processes are operating more efficiently and therefore require less manpower to operate

Job placement

Provide different assignment for displaced employees

Employees who are displaced by Lean implementation will be in need of securing other positions. It is preferable if the position is internal to the company. Internal job placement put at ease other employees when it comes to Lean implementation


Keep current employees on changes and how and if they will be impacted

Communication can relieve the fear of the unknown. It is normal for people to be concerned with how implementing a new efficient process will impact them and potentially their family

Job counseling

Provide assurance to employees that they will have a role in the company if feasible. In the case where an employee will be displaced, provide him or her information on what the company is willing to do to assist him or her in locating employment internal or external to the company

Displacement of employees at times is a reality when implementing Lean, if not addressed adequately, a lack of trust and fear of uncertainty can result

Policy and procedure development

The new process may result in a change to policy or procedures

Ensure that policies and procedures are modified early in the process and employees are briefed

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