Job security is the feeling of safety that one’s job will be there in the future. Because job security is so closely linked to basic needs, like shelter and food, people react with strong emotions when their job security is threatened. In fact, job security falls into the first level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
On the surface, Lean and other continuous improvement efforts seem to be contrary to a person’s job security. Often, managers are excited about the prospect of improved productivity and faster employees, which loosely translates to workers as, “We won’t need as many of you to work here.”
In truth, Lean enhances a person’s job security. It makes the company more competitive, which improves its odds of survival.
Once a company is well-established with Lean and employees have evidence that job security can coexist with continuous improvement, the issue tends to dissipate. In organizations that are just starting, though, the fear is real and pervasive. Leaders need to plan how to address the issue and promote Lean without making people worry that they will be casualties. Some companies go so far as to formally declare a “No layoffs due to Lean” policy. A Lean company that reduces its need for workers should use attrition to lower headcount, and will obviously limit hiring during periods of growth.