‘Lean’ Training For Gravenhurst Staff Results In Significant Savings, Improved Customer Service


In the last two years, more than 100 Town of Gravenhurst staff have completed what’s known as ‘Lean’ training, leading to over $450,000 in savings for the organization.

“On behalf of council, I congratulate all our staff who have completed ‘Lean’ training. Through these learning opportunities, staff have carried out several important projects, resulting in significant improvements, including better customer service,” Mayor Heidi Lorenz said. “We’ve also seen valuable savings for the organization.”

‘Lean’ is a continuous improvement approach, originally established in the manufacturing sector.

Staff began learning about ‘Lean’ in September 2020. The town retained Leading Edge Group to provide the training. Since then, 89 employees have trained as Lean-level White Belts and 20 have earned next-level Green Belts. The town is the first municipality in the District of Muskoka to start an organization-wide Lean program.

As part of the training, staff have completed 12 continuous improvement projects.

“Those projects have identified 4,407 annual hours freed up in capacity or an equivalent of $275,822 in time value,” director of finance Ross Jeffery said. “In addition, there were other absolute savings and revenue recoveries of $174,740 for a total value savings identified to date of $450,562. For a small municipality, that would equate to not having to increase the budget by 2.5 per cent. What it has done for the corporate culture is harder to measure, but we feel that it took a good culture and made it better.”

Elaine Harkiss-Laird, senior manager of human resources, said ‘Lean’ training has been a significant development opportunity for staff.

“We wanted to create a corporate culture where continuous improvement is entrenched, creativity is encouraged and acknowledged, and employee engagement and morale is enhanced,” she said. “Our employees who do the work every day are the experts. They are the best people to identify waste and inefficiencies while adding value to our customers. It’s been exciting to build capacity, see our staff and our organization grow and improve, and to see the ‘spin-off’ projects that staff have worked on.”

Scott Lucas, chief administrative officer, is pleased with the overall results of the ‘Lean’ training and proud of staff for the tremendous contributions they have made to the organization, which serves the people of Gravenhurst.

“Delivering a high-level of customer service is an ongoing priority for us at the Town of Gravenhurst and through ‘Lean’ we have been able to greatly enhance what we do,” he said. “We will continue our ‘Lean’ journey and will report future updates when appropriate.”

The town is advocating other municipalities invest in ‘Lean’ training for staff given the substantial benefits.


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