For many companies, getting ISO 9001 certified is simply a matter of opening yourself up to the many clients that require the certification as a requisite to doing business.
For many others however, ISO 9001 certification comes with an array of benefits for a company’s employees.
While putting a Quality Management System in place will have a number of benefits for your customers, the benefits it will bring to your employees should not be overlooked. These benefits to your employees will help to propel growth and success for your company and should be strived for.
All companies share at least one common goal. That common goal is success, and for many, that goal is closely followed by growth. For companies that are looking to grow and improve as a company, getting the most out of your employees is a must. Maximizing your workforce is a necessary component of growth.
Implementing a quality management system can help companies achieve this. By building out a quality management system that is in keeping with ISO 9001 standards, a company is giving itself the toolkit to grow and succeed as a company. Increasing employee performance and productivity is a major part of this.
One of the main premises of the ISO 9001 standard for quality management systems is the idea of setting up documentation and record keeping practices for just about every process that goes into the everyday operations of your business.
The idea behind this is simple. By keeping detailed records of a business’s operations, trends, patterns, and weaknesses can be spotted with greater accuracy. Being able to spot the weaknesses in a business’s procedures helps a company act and improve upon them more quickly, thus improving employee performance and productivity.
This blends with the entire purpose of implementing a quality management system with the stated mission of improving upon a business’s outcomes. By working to build a system that ensures consistent, high-quality outcomes, companies are committing to the concept of constant improvement and growth.
The only way this can be achieved is by submitting all facets of a company to the mantra of constant improvement. If the concept isn’t applied to every area of an organization, then its potential is not being fully reached. Employees, of course, fall under this umbrella.
For a company to live by the ISO 9001 standard, they need to take an active role in improving the performance of productivity of their workforce. This can take many different forms. Whether it’s through increased engagement and agency for individual employees or through increased trainings, growth in this area is critical to improving a company’s processes.
With the ISO 9001 putting an emphasis on the constant improvement of your business, it’s only natural that improved employee performance and production will stem from the implementation of a quality management system.
Businesses with any familiarity with the ISO 9001 standard will know that it emphasizes a process approach to operating a company. This means an emphasis on creating a consistent and repeatable process that will in turn maximize the likelihood of preferable outcomes created by that process.
The key to a process approach is the recognition that a good process is repeatable, while a good outcome is less repeatable without a comprehensive understanding of the process that achieved it.
One of the key ways that the ISO 9001 standard addresses this is by expressly stating that the goal of the standard is not to compel uniformity of all quality management systems under its certification. The idea being that quality management systems implemented under the standard should just be a set of practices designed to meet the standard’s requirements.
Instead, these quality management systems should be built with the core concepts of the ISO 9001 standard in mind, of which, the idea of process being central. Quality management systems should be designed for and tailored to the company implementing them, but under the ISO standard they should all hold the idea of process as a core tenet.
The ISO 9001 standard further expands its definition of a process approach by outlining the PDCA cycle, or the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. This approach is the embodiment of the ISO 9001 standard. By acting in accordance with the principles behind this cycle, organizations can ensure that their quality management systems are meeting the necessary standards.
So, how does this emphasis of process benefit a company’s employees? The main way this focus on process benefits the employees of a company is by giving them insight into how the company is run and how its procedures can be improved upon.
The idea behind focusing on process is that these processes can be observed, documented, and improved upon. By giving everyone within an organization an idea on how these processes are designed to work and how to record their outcomes, employees are empowered to form their own ideas on how to improve upon these practices and given the opportunity to do so.
This is where the PDCA cycle also offers some guidance and clarity. By outlining a clear set of principles for assessing any system within a company, employees can know how to examine problems and go about addressing them.
This clarity on how things within the company operate will engage your employees and make them stakeholders in the everyday operations of the business. When employees feel like they have a stake in the performance of the company they are more likely to put forth more energy and passion in trying to improve the business and help it grow.
As the premier standard for quality management standards, the ISO 9001 standard can help a company become incredibly effective at recognizing areas for improvement and then building out plans to address those improvements.
Taking an approach that is geared towards constantly seeking out improvement, locating inefficiencies and potential places for improvement comes almost as second nature to companies operating under this system.
The ISO 9001 standard can help companies reduce inefficiencies and improve work-flow by giving them the tools to recognize and address potential inefficiencies as they arise.
Working at constantly reducing inefficiencies will help to improve the overall quality of both your product and your company. This focus on improving the overall level of all facets of your company will have a trickle-down effect on the business as a whole.
One way that this improvement in addressing inefficiencies can help the business overall is by improving your employees experience of working at your company. An improvement in your employees’ experience will have far reaching impacts in a number of areas, many of which will roll into other benefits listed in this article.
A reduction in inefficiency will demonstrate to your employees that you take improvement seriously. This will in turn illustrate to they should feel empowered to bring potential improvements to your attention, with the understanding that you’ll take their suggestions seriously.
Another benefit of reducing inefficiencies is creating a better work-flow Having a better work-flow will have a similar trickle-down effect on a number of areas of your business, many of which you might never expected.
A cleaner work-flow will also benefit your employees. By having an efficient and clean work-flow, employees will understand the way the business is supposed to operate, and in turn will be able to recognize problem areas as they arise. This in turn enables them to take their own initiative to address these problems.
The beauty of improving the work-flow of a company from an employee standpoint is that it creates a self-sustaining feedback loop. Illuminating the work-flow within the organization empowers employees to see the inefficiencies and address them. This further enables them to understand the work-flow and begin the process over.
An improved work-flow will also have the benefit of clarifying employee roles, thus preventing any one employee feeling like they’re being stretched too thin. With more defined work-flows and employee roles, anyone within a company can recognize an issue and know who to talk to about addressing it.
Any leader of a company knows that getting consistent employee engagement can be a tough thing to achieve. They also likely know how important it can be the growth and success of a company. The question becomes how to foster engagement in their workforce on a consistent basis.
In addition to the overall benefits to your company that a quality management system provides, implementing a quality management system that complies with the ISO 9001 standard will create a work environment that is more conducive to employee engagement and performance.
This concept is addressed directly in the ISO 9001:2015 update, where engagement is defined as “the involvement and contribution to, activities to achieve shared objectives.”
This is further expanded upon in Clause 5.1.1 which states that top leadership is required to demonstrate leadership and commitment by engaging, directing and supporting persons to contribute to the effectiveness of the quality management system.
The ISO 9001 standard puts an emphasis on leadership playing the pivotal role in building employee engagement within an organization. One of the ways leaders are encouraged to do this within the ISO 9001 standard is in Section 7.3. This section directs leaders to make the company aware of company procedures and their role within these systems.
The standard also discusses how leaders should encourage employee participation in the process of auditing the company’s processes, therefore making them stakeholders in the operations of the company.
These suggestions for how to build employee engagement are in line with the spirit of the ISO 9001 standard at large. Taking a holistic approach on how to get employees engaged at every step of the process is in line with the ISO standard being an all-encompassing standard for quality management systems.
For leaders within a company looking to encourage more employee engagement, there are a few tips that can help achieve this.
The goal of any leader should be to get their team fully engaged with the task at hand and how to accomplish it. This engagement will pay dividends for your employees. Being more engaged at work will give your employees a greater sense of satisfaction with their job and will lead to higher retention rates, allowing you to hold on to your top talent longer.
All of these benefits to your employees culminate to achieve the thing that everyone in your organization striving for: an improved customer experience.
No matter the industry, organization size, or type, improving the customer experience is the main goal of any business. The ISO 9001 standard is designed to give a company the tools via their quality management system to consistently produce high-quality customer experiences.
The ISO 9001 standard helps to improve the customer experience by holding companies to a high standard in the development and implementation of their quality management systems. This allows companies to create a highly consistent process, which in turn helps maximize the potential for their desired outcomes.
By developing a system for consistency, a company is helping to ensure that they provide their customers with an experience in line with their expectations. When customers come to expect high-quality it is crucial that a company is able to meet those expectations. The ISO 9001 standard is designed to help with that.
Delivering a high-quality customer experience will have benefits for your employees, not the least of which will be the increased frequency with which they deal with satisfied customers. Anyone who has functioned in a client-facing position knows how much easier and more satisfying the job is when the customers are satisfied.
Improving the customer experience will give your employees a sense of pride. Knowing that they’ve contributed to delivering a quality product to the customer, employees will take a sense of pride in both their work and the company as a whole. This will add to their engagement, productivity, and satisfaction.
This last point should also not be overlooked. Anyone who has managed an organization before knows that employee satisfaction plays a huge role in everything from talent retention to overall company productivity. A dip in employee satisfaction can quickly have an impact on the final product if not addressed.
Conversely, satisfied employees can cause ripple effects across the company. Knowing that what they’re doing is working will push employees to continue putting effort and passion into their work, both of which will show up on the back end.
Satisfied employees are more likely to stay with their company rather than search for better opportunities, as well as more likely to try and improve the company rather than taking a more passive stance towards growing the company.
As one can plainly see, improving the customer experience can reverberate throughout different areas of the company.
And this is where the beauty of the ISO 9001 standard lies. Because it is such an all-encompassing system, its principles all start to bleed into and reinforce each other. By improving work-flow, you increase employee engagement, which boosts employee performance, which ultimately improves the customer experience.
All of these factors act off of each other to create an ecosystem within the company where improvement is always being sought out, something that will lasting benefits for your employees.
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Benefits of ISO 9001
Written: 15th September 2021
Author: Richard Keen
Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
Learn more about Richard