The primary aim of this team project was to design a Performance Measurement System (PMS) for the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design (CPULD) using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and to make their use a regular part of CPULD’s organization and performance validation systems. Currently CPULD only uses quarterly financial reports to track employee performance (based on hours worked and projects completed). This continuous improvement project was designed to begin helping CPULD to better quantify its processes, measure its overall performance, and keep track of individual employee performance. The project was conducted by graduate student Yu Yang Huang.

This project’s methodology was first to define the importance of creating a PMS for the organization and to outline the basic functioning model of CPULD. This step is called SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, and Customers) and the diagram (Image 1) shows the organizational outline of CPULD that the project team created.

After outlines were created, a SWOT analysis was conducted that defined the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to overall company performance and individual employee performance. CPULD has many strengths and opportunities, such as many of its employees have a high education level, the work environment is set up well for experiential learning, and the lab itself already has many national and international certifications. Prior to this project, CPULD knew many of its weaknesses and had a rough picture of where it was lacking. This project confirmed that individual performance had never been highlighted, quantified, and documented. CPULD embraced this project, as it understood that having an overall PMS is the best option to provide a clear picture — both of its strengths and of areas needing improvement — and that knowledge is beneficial for growth.

A standard “balanced scorecard” of metrics was used to analyze the SIPOC, SWOT, and CPULD’s outline. This approach has been proven to be a good platform under which to develop and implement growth strategies for an organization. The cause-and-effect relationships between different strategic objectives can be of great importance to managers when it comes to visualizing a business model for organizations like CPULD. A balanced scorecard helps to have a consensus between the interrelated strategic objectives and helps to create a complete picture of what strategies need to be implemented. It looks at all of the aspects of a business from four perspectives and tries to “balance” the organization by having equal effort put towards each (Image 2).

Image 2. Balance scorecard showing consensus between interrelated strategic objectives

Image 2. Balance scorecard showing consensus between interrelated strategic objectives
Image 2. Balance scorecard showing consensus between interrelated strategic objectives

After finding that more defined metrics needed to be employed for both overall performance and for individual performance in the lab, the project concluded that the Financial Perspective should not be the only aspect looked at for performance ratings; the Customer Perspective was already being handled well, based on the retention of long-term clients and the regular surveying of said clients for satisfaction; and the Internal Business Perspective had already been looked into by other projects. Therefore, the team decided this research project would focus on bettering the Learning and Development Perspective. Once this focus was decided upon, the project then moved on to Phase 2, which was designing and implementing a series of surveys distributed anonymously to CPULD employees in order to discover their levels of satisfaction and engagement with their jobs in the lab as well as how they feel they can develop/grow within their job.

In order to facilitate the best performance possible from employees, it’s necessary for the organization to have a strong mission statement with which the employees can relate and base their work around. Although CPULD does have a strong mission statement, it was not found to be communicated well across the different levels of the organization.

The initial survey asked 52 specific questions, but was then reduced to 19 questions, all of which fell into the following main categories: 

1.      Employee Satisfaction:

a.       Does the employee feel valued at his job?

b.      Does the employee fit his job both qualification-wise and personality-wise?

c.       Has the employee learned things through his job that will help in life?

2.      Employee Development:

a.       Is the employee capable of/skilled in performing his duties?

b.      Does the employee feel he brings improvements to the job?

c.       Is the employee provided with enough training to do his job?

3.      Employee Engagement:

a.       Does the employee feel there a sense of teamwork amongst his peers?

b.      Does the employee feel his feedback is appreciated by the job?

c.       Does the employee know and relate with the mission of CPULD?

d.      Is the employee proud of being associated with CPULD?

Employee Satisfaction is defined as a measure of whether an employee’s needs are being met at work and how satisfied they are with their overall work experience. The focal point in Employee Satisfaction is on the employee’s feelings, positive or negative, about their employment relationship. The questions in the Employee Satisfaction section are a means of gaining insight into the employee’s emotional state of happiness with their job and the organization in general.

Through the survey, the project found that 100% of employees agreed (slightly agreed, agreed, or strongly agreed) that their work was valued by their supervisors, they’re treated with respect by their supervisors, the supervisors are genuinely interested in them and their careers, and their own personal research projects are helped by their work in the lab. Also, 100% of employees felt they were comfortable with their current roles and could be themselves at work. When asked if they liked their work and if they were challenged by it, 87% of employees agreed. However, 25% feel they don’t have the space/freedom to express their opinion in the workplace, and 13% don’t feel that good work is fairly recognized by management.

Employee Development is defined as a process during which employees, with the support of their employer, go through professional training to improve their skills and grow their knowledge. The Employee Development questions ask about employee competency in their current jobs and their perceived value to the organization.

Through the survey, the project found that 87% of employees agreed (slightly agreed, agreed, or strongly agreed) that their supervisors facilitate their learning new tasks in their work, 87% agreed that their peers help them learn as well, and 87% believe that working at CPULD has helped them grow as a person. However, this also means that 13% feel their peers are not contributing to their growth as an employee, and the project also found that 26% of employees felt that their job is not helpful in their personal education/research.

Employee Engagement is defined as the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work. The Employee Engagement questions ask about the levels of collaboration among the employees and their sense of belonging in the organization.

Image 3. Scorecard showing 100% agreement that CPULD has a great team mentality among the workers.

Image 3. Scorecard showing 100% agreement that CPULD has a great team mentality among the workers.
Image 3. Scorecard showing 100% agreement that CPULD has a great team mentality among employees.

Through the survey, the project found that 100% of employees feel good (slightly agreed, agreed, or strongly agreed) about the work they do as a team at CPULD and that CPULD is a great place to learn (Image 3). In addition, 100% feel they receive support from their team whenever they need it and that they offer support to others, 100% feel communication and collaboration among team members is one of the greatest strengths of the workplace here, and, 87% claim that the strong feeling of teamwork they have with their peers is one of the main motivations for doing good work. However, 26% feel that upper management doesn’t do enough to communicate a strong sense of vision/mission for the work, and 26% don’t even have a clear idea of CPULD’s objectives as an organization. Also, 13% of employees stated they feel that they aren’t encouraged to give their opinion on issues that involve them, and that they aren’t given enough feedback about their work.

As these types of questions/metrics had not been measured by the organization before, it gave the project team a fair chance to conduct an unbiased pilot test of their survey with the employees at CPULD and then to conduct analyses that could be used to further optimize the surveys to make them better to deploy in the future. Many analyses were done on the survey responses, including Factor Analysis, Correlation Matrix, Scree Plot, Cronbach’s Alpha, and Varimax and Oblimin Methods.

The overall conclusions reached through analyses of the survey results are that CPULD employees feel valued in their jobs and that the environment is set up well for teaching and learning. They also feel they work with a strong team of collaborative peers and that they all receive adequate training to feel good at their jobs. The main issues revealed by the surveys is that many employees would prefer to be included more often in decision making about the tasks/procedures that involve them and would like to receive more feedback about their individual performance.