Aerospace manufacturer Boeing outdid Wall Street’s expectations in April, reporting a 29 percent surge in net income on the back of a 12 percent jump in revenues. The good news follows years of lackluster performance. While favorable market changes account for some of the company’s change in fortunes, credit must also go to an employee incentive and recognition program that shows ergonomic thinking.
Boeing, which designs, builds and tests air and space craft for military and civilian markets, employs over 150,000 people across the United States and in 67 countries. Any company-wide program must work across a vast range of cultures.
The MSN Money program reported in April that Boeing’s impressive results were driven by a big jump in commercial airplane deliveries. The program also said the 10 percent jump in operating margins indicated that the company’s productivity enhancements are having the desired affect.
A key enhancement is the Pride@Boeing program, put in place in 2000 to boost employee productivity, motivation and morale. It replaced a long-running employee-of-the-month system that was scrapped as ineffective.
Conceptually, Pride@Boeing has ergonomic potential but Boeing found the system unworkable. It was complex, expensive and ineffective, according to an article in May in WorkForce Management. There was a lag of up to 28 days between a commendation for an employee’s work and the actual reward, and the program didn’t accommodate the individual cultural, educational and occupational differences in the workforce.
According to the article, the revisions put in place in January fixed these flaws. The revised program recognizes individuality and cultural differences. What is perceived as a reward on the factory floor may be valueless to employees in an executive suite or laboratory. The changes also recognize that employees in one culture in the company’s 67-country empire might be insulted by a gift or recognition regarded elsewhere as a supreme accolade.
And the new system is Web-based, automated and streamlined. It offers formal and instant appreciation, and makes service awards and cash rewards easier and faster to administer.
The apparent financial boost for Boeing shows that ergonomic thinking pays, so Pride@Boeing 2006 is likely to have staying power.
Sources: Boeing; MSN Money; Workforce Management