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Ask the Expert: Human Resources

Incentive pay system

Q: I am researching different types of pay systems. We’re currently using a combination of hourly pay and incentive pay (based on units produced). I would like to create a system that rewards all employees at a particular site. What suggestions do you have?


Herzberg's theory

Q: How far can we apply Herzberg’s two-factory theory in our apparel manufacturing organization?


Inspection accuracy

Q: Is there a standard on how time and content affect human inspection accuracy? Our production shifts are nine hours long with rest periods every two hours. What steps should I take to improve error detection and prevention?


Lost hours

Q: I am trying to come up with a different efficiency calculation for the company I work for. We currently measure efficiency based on the number of hours above the standard hours used to make the product. However, since reporting is done manually, the supervisor hides hours in indirect labor to make the efficiency look good. Is there another type of formula that can be used for packing operations?


Measuring R&D

Q: My department primarily deals with work measurement and cost reduction for our food processing plants. Our area of expertise is the measurement of the short-cycled, highly repetitive jobs of the production lines.

I have been asked to provide assistance to our corporate laboratory and research services department in assessing their staffing levels. The labs are staffed with chemists and microbiologists who perform a wide variety of research and analytical testing. Are there any guidelines or assessment tools to evaluate laboratory staffing?


Indirect labor needs

Q: I work for an automaker at a manufacturing facility that produces transmissions. I need to figure out how many indirect labor people we should have in the plant. By indirect labor I mean any hourly personnel whose main job is to support the production of transmissions and not to assemble or machine parts. For example, an electrician or a tool maker would be indirect labor, whereas someone working on the assembly line would be direct labor. Material handling personnel are indirect labor.

We calculate the direct labor content by developing a standardized work plan for every job in the plant. This is purely math-based, with the initial data taken from direct observation; however, the indirect labor plan seems to be based on experience, not data. Is there a data-driven way to compute the quantity of indirect labor required in a plant?


Tuning in to productivity

Q: Does listening to the radio decrease employee performance? I have found studies that indicate listening to instrumental music increases concentration but none about the effect of other types of music. Do you have any insight from human factors, psychological, or managerial points of view?


Shedding some light

Q: I need some help looking for references about lighting effects on human productivity.


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