The Bullseye - November 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

In This Issue:
Lean Manufacturing,
5 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance,
Social Etiquette at Work Functions,
September Unemployment Report

Lean Manufacturing

Americans are facing the harsh reality that for over two decades the United States has been losing manufacturing jobs to foreign competitors. According to Lean Works Inc., “an estimated 2.8 million factory jobs have been lost since 2001.” It is evident that low labor costs and less government regulations in foreign countries are the cause.

The question then, is how can U.S. workers keep their jobs at home? One of the most efficient ways, according to Lean Works, is to “think lean.” Thinking lean involves viewing materials, as opposed to labor, as the biggest opportunity for cost reduction while focusing on productivity improvements to increase output. Typical results from companies that have adopted this mentality show a reduction in inventory by more than 80 percent as well as a 35 percent increase in labor productivity. 

Experts caution, though, that lean manufacturing does not provide the instant gratification that outsourcing labor can. On paper, outsourcing appears very attractive because cash flow gets an instant “one time” increase and labor costs are instantly reduced. Thinking lean involves patience and a bigger picture mentality. Lean enterprises are built with hard work and dedication that will benefit U.S. corporations and workers in the long term. 

Many companies, such as Lean Works, Inc., offer tools to help companies succeed at lean manufacturing. One of the most well known tools is Six Sigma, a system originally developed by Motorola that “systematically improves processes by eliminating defects, or, nonconformity of a product or service to its specifications.” Many companies offer courses and training in the Six Sigma process. Regardless of the company or process used to implement lean manufacturing, the process clearly and systematically provides companies with improved manufacturing processes and benefits the U.S. economy by keeping jobs on U.S. soil.

Interested in the Six Sigma process? Click here to learn more.

5 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance

Concentrate on your priorities. Make a list of your top five priorities and focus on them one at a time. For example, leave work at work so that you are able to give full attention to your family when at home.
Reduce your schedule. Activities and commitments not included on your list of top priorities tend to draw attention away from what is important to you.
Protect your private time.  Setting aside time for yourself is an important aspect of success. The number of hours you work is not necessarily in direct correlation to your value as an employee.  In actuality, allowing yourself personal time enhances your ability to excel in the workplace.
Accept help to balance your life. Allow family members or partners to help when extra time is needed to focus on your top priorities.
Plan fun and relaxation.  Schedule time during the week for fun and to enjoy something that truly interests you. Make plans and take care of any arrangements beforehand.

Social Etiquette at Work Functions

To succeed in today’s business place, networking with co-workers and business contacts is a necessity. Social activities and functions range from golf outings, dinners and holiday parties to after hours networking events. No matter the affair, the environment is likely to be more relaxed than the regular office. So how can an employee keep things professional and avoid Monday morning shame and embarrassment?
Follow these simple tips:
Skip the Eggnog –Realistically, most of you won’t follow this advice. So, if you must consume alcoholic beverages, keep it to a minimum. No one is more annoying than the guy who drank too much at the office party.
Dress According to Office Policy – Some people think that because an event isn’t in the office, it means they can dress more casually or provocatively. Stay away from golf course attire, open collars, or anything else better saved for an evening with friends, not co-workers.
Don’t Pull an “Elaine” – All Seinfeld fans will remember the episode where Elaine made a fool out of herself because she danced at the office party when she had no business doing so. If you cannot dance, stay off the dance floor. And no, dancing on tables is not appropriate!
Don’t Overstay Your Welcome – Stay a few hours, do not stay for last call or close the party. Mingle and make business contacts. Nourish business relationships, but leave them wanting more.
Avoid Office Romance – It is estimated that we spend up to three quarters of our lifetimes at work. With that much time spent in the office, relationships  are bound to form. At many companies however, romantic relationships are frowned upon, if not officially prohibited. At social events where inhibitions may be lowered, keep any flirtation to a minimum.
Following these simple five tips will ensure you avoid the Monday morning “walk of shame.” Remember, work events are still work. They may be more relaxed and fun, but events should still be viewed as work time and a chance to impress fellow co-workers and executives.

September 2007 Unemployment Report

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly Employment Situation Report for September that showed a slight rise in employment, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.7 percent.

Job gains were reported at 110,000 in September and average hourly earnings continued to rise, up 4.1 percent from September 2006. The following industries added jobs:health care, food services, and professional and technical services. Employment trended down in manufacturing and construction. Average hourly earnings rose by 7 cents, or 0.4 percent.
Total employment, at 146.3 million, and the civilian labor force, at 153.3 million, rose in September. The employment-population ratio was 62.9 percent and the labor force participation rate was 66 percent. Both of these were only slightly changed over the month.
 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
“Nearly 1.3 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attached to the labor force in September, about the same as a year earlier. These individuals wanted and were available to work and had looked for a job sometime during the prior 12 months. Among the marginally attached, there were 276,000 discouraged workers in September, little different from a year earlier. The nearly 1.0 million remaining persons marginally attached to the labor force in September had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance and family responsibilities.”
Overall the September Employment Situation Report was stronger than expected. The projected downward revision (to be included in the January report) was also smaller than expected. October’s report will be issued in early November.