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How ISO 9001 Benefits Employees

7 September 2020

When considering the pros and cons of ISO 9001, business leaders often wonder how the program will affect their workforce. Will it have a positive effect on staff morale, or will there be lingering doubts and opposition that offset other benefits? In this article we show you how a well-implemented ISO 9001 system is good for both your employees and your company.

How ISO 9001 Is Good for Employees

There is no question that ISO 9001 affects employees. By its nature, an ISO 9001 quality management system touches on all work processes – and by extension on all employees. There is the direct impact when ISO shapes individual work flows, and there is an indirect component that contributes to the work environment.

Numerous academic studies have analyzed top-rated companies to determine how they attract and retain excellent staff. In almost all cases, five key factors are identified. This article examines how these factors are addressed by a well-implemented ISO 9001 system.

Rewarding Growth Opportunities through ISO 9001

Opportunities for personal growth and development is one of the most commonly-cited reasons for employee satisfaction. Staff at all levels of the organization respond positively to training programs, staff reviews and evaluations, additional responsibilities, and career progression. ISO 9001 achieves exactly this for your employees. It gives managers a dedicated framework that:

Expands the scope of employee reviews to include consideration of development goals and career objectives.

Encourages goal-oriented employee training, along with comprehensive training evaluation.

Recognizes and develops competencies, skills and interests, and rewards them with more challenging and responsible positions within the organization.

More Satisfying Work Environment through ISO 9001

No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job at a company that adheres to outdated practices, uses antiquated technology, and pays scant attention to the cleanliness and safety of the work environment. Top-rated employers recognize these issues and make the workplace as safe, modern and vibrant as possible.

The ISO 9001 standard places great emphasis on forward-thinking practices and mandates a thorough assessment of the work environment. Indeed, it includes an entire clause devoted to the provision of resources that support activity, output, and productivity, all of which (if properly addressed) will result in a more modern and efficient workplace.

How ISO 9001 Empowers Employees

Another important aspect for employees is a feeling of being valued and that their contributions matter. Top-rated companies recognize achievements; some even make it a habit to thank their staff at the end of every shift. The net result is a workforce that feels cared about and supported, and most of all, valued.

Involving and engaging employees is one of ISO's core principles and reflected in several of its clauses. Take for example the section on continual improvement, it fosters employee contributions and involves staff in improving their own work processes. The requirements to measure and analyze work processes and customer satisfaction provide a basis for improvement initiatives and a positive feedback loop for employee efforts. And the standard's focus on defined responsibilities and authorities ensures empowerment is not subject to the whims of managers.

Competent, empowered and engaged people at all levels throughout the organization are essential to enhance its capability to create and deliver value.

Corporate Culture that Supports Employees

The importance of corporate culture shouldn't be underestimated when it comes to employee satisfaction. Employees respect leadership that communicates focus and vision. They also appreciate involvement in areas outside their direct responsibility. Add a feeling of passion, and employees will go the extra yard to contribute. ISO 9001 helps to establish a positive culture in several ways:

Leaders communicate policy and direction throughout the organization.

Fact-based decisions – which contribute to an environment of trust – are supported on all levels through systematically established goals and performance measures.

The process approach, a fundamental concept of ISO 9001, helps employees recognize how their activities affect other parts of the organization.

Root cause analysis and risk-based thinking foster employee contribution and lead to a more creative and forward-thinking culture.

A well-implemented ISO 9001 internal audit program enables staff to learn about the rest of the organization and share best practices.

Job Security through ISO 9001 Certification

Job security ranks high among the needs of employees, and the stability of the company is a main factor. It's not unusual for the ISO certificate to pave the way to national and international contracts that inspire confidence in the future of the organization and better job security. Less obvious are the internal mechanisms that increase the stability of the organization. Noteworthy is ISO's focus on the management of risks that, if ignored or not properly addressed, could have a potentially devastating effect on the company.

Conclusion

Despite the numerous ways that ISO 9001 is good for employees, employee criticism of the standard is possible. The cause, however, is the application rather than the words of the standard. The benefits of ISO 9001 for your employees – and your organization – depend on how you implement the standard. To get an idea about how to do it right, read our practical 5-step guide to certification.

It's also important in many ways that your employees fully buy into your plans for ISO 9001 before you start implementing. So, give your employees a basic introduction to ISO 9001 as early as possible and discuss the benefits that they can expect.

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