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Can You Have True Lean Logistics Without an Employee Engagement Program?

Posted by Marti Donovan

This isn't the first time we have stressed the importance of employee engagement with lean logistics, nor will it be the last. While most people may think of technology or statistical analysis when it comes to lean logistics, it is the "outside-the-box" thinking that really makes a difference.

Bringing us to workforce motivation and engagement—something most companies sweep under the rug or have trouble quantifying and improving.


Kenco's practice of lean logistics helped us realize how important employee engagement is. Let's dive into some of the reasoning and tactics you can use to implement leaner logistics through employee engagement.

Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?

To begin, Gallup has seen a direct correlation between employee engagement and 9 key business areas:

  • profitability
  • turnover
  • productivity
  • quality
  • safety
  • shrinkage
  • absenteeism
  • customer ratings
  • patient safety incidents

The more engaged employees are, the more productive they become. They work faster, feel more motivated, act safer, and produce higher quality work. This alone makes a strong case for employee engagement in the workplace.

Furthermore, when looking at specific areas like turnover, Gallup determined that high-turnover organizations can decrease their rates by 25% if they engage employees. Low-turnover organizations who engage employees see an even bigger decrease—up to 65% less turnover.

Lean Logistics and Employee Engagement Go Hand-in-Hand

Though lean logistics, as a term, is more engineering and best practices in terminology, its parallels to employee engagement cannot be denied.

Lean logistics is about creating efficiencies, which is exactly what employee engagement does. One ends up feeding off of the other. The side effects of engaged employees (decreased turnover, increased productivity, etc.) are exactly what you would like to see in a lean logistics environment.

Can You Have True Lean Logistics Without Employee Engagement?


It's the short but true answer. Not if you really want to dive into a lean logistics process—across all instances in your company.

Engaged employees are the backbone to a truly lean workplace. Without engaged employees, you are not practicing lean logistics because you are not optimizing the time and talents of your workforce.

How Do You Know if Your Employees Are Engaged?

When trying to answer this question, Kenco turned to Gallup and its Q12 survey. Gallup helped us break down our employees into three groups:

  • Engaged
  • Not Engaged
  • Actively Disengaged

Engaged employees are those who go above and beyond—you can trust them to be active and responsible. Not engaged employees sit along for the ride—they do the bare minimum to get by. Then there are actively disengaged employees. These employees are the complainers—their glass is always half empty, and they actively recruit the engaged and not engaged associates.

Simply put, you want the majority of your employees categorized as engaged. Not engaged employees and actively disengaged employees will actively work against a lean system.

To Sum It All Up

If you want to improve continuously, employees need to be involved and enthusiastic—which is what engagement is made of. When employees are engaged, they feed perfectly into lean logistics.

For the two practices to marry, employee engagement can't just be a program. It has to encompass what you do on a daily basis. At Kenco, employee engagement aligns very well with our company culture.

It is more than a program—it is a part of our guiding principles.

While Gallup's Q12 will help you understand your employee engagement, the real work falls on the organization to engage employees. If you want to get a peek into Kenco's results, check out the 5 takeaways we found using the Q12 survey. The results may surprise you.


Marti Donovan

Written by Marti Donovan


We'd like to hear about your supply chain and discuss ways Kenco can help address your business needs.

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Kenco provides integrated logistics solutions that include distribution and fulfillment, comprehensive transportation management, material handling services, real estate management, and information technology—all engineered for Operational Excellence.