Getting Up to Speed
At UPS, more than 1,000 industrial engineers use time studies to set standards for a myriad of closely supervised tasks. Drivers are instructed to walk to a customer’s door at the brisk pace of three feet per second and to knock first lest seconds be lost searching for the doorbell. Supervisors then ride with the “least best drivers” until they learn to finish on time.
“It’s human nature to get away with as much as possible:’ says Michael Kamienski. a UPS district manager. “But we bring workers up to our level of acceptance. We don’t go down to their level.”
If UPS isn’t quite a throwback to old-time work measurement. It nevertheless runs counter to the drift of many U.S, companies. To increase productivity. others are turning more often to employee-involvement techniques that stress consultation and reject the rigid monitoring of worker.
“Workers are better educated and want more to about what happens to them:’ says Roger Weiss, a vice president of H. B. Maynard & Co., a consulting concern. “Time study is a dark-ages technique, and it’s dehumanizing to track someone around with a stopwatch.”
UPS dismisses the criticism, “We don’t use the standard a, hammers, but they do give accountability:’ says Larry P. Breaking. the company senior ice president for engineering. “Our ability to manage labor and hold it accountable is the to our success.”