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The Links Between Quality and Wellness

Nicole Radziwill

Quality Management Systems aren’t just for the manufacturing plant. They can be used to promote health and wellness.

By Nicole Radziwill

Human resources (HR) departments in many organizations invest in health, mental health and wellness programs to ensure that employees bring their best to the office or plant. In addition, safety programs aim to protect the bodies and lives of workers. 

What you may not be aware of, though, is that quality management systems (QMS) also can promote health and well-being by reducing stress. Defined as the “psychological and physical state that results when the resources of the individual are not sufficient to cope with the demands and pressures of the situation,” stress can arise if (Michie, 2002): 

  • Work hours are too long 
  • Work requirements are too excessive and/or pressure is applied 
  • Control over work cannot be secured 
  • Participation in decision making is limited 
  • Social support is limited or absent 
  • Management and worker roles are ill defined 
  • Ownership and decision-making authority is unclear 
  • Unpredictable, uncontrollable or ambiguous situations 
  • Unclear or shifting performance expectations 

Quality management systems can alleviate many of these issues. By defining work processes, roles and responsibilities, clarity is added to day-to-day activities. By establishing decision processes, people understand how their contributions relate to overall goals. By providing mechanisms for measuring and evaluating key factors, progress can be assessed on a continuous basis, and adjustments made with the inputs of all key stakeholders taken into account. 

A full QMS isn’t even required. Simply following a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process in everything your organization does can bring enough clarity and predictability to reduce stress -- and significantly improve mental health and well-being. 

Quality tools also can be used to achieve personal health and wellness goals. In 2016, Florida resident Jennifer Stepniowski described how she used quality tools to meet her physical fitness goals. First, she performed a SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis -- it revealed she didn’t like exercising in the gym or outdoors.  

“I’m all about strategic planning, and any good quality professional knows that’s step No. 1.” -- Jennifer Stepniowski 

Because she’s motivated by mutually beneficial projects, she partnered with a personal trainer who was building a new business, and who could also reinforce accountability. She identified high-level goals and sketched out a Gantt chart to understand how and when to take action. At the end of three months, she reviewed her actions and progress and made adjustments. By getting into a PDCA loop, she was able to meet her goals and get on track for long-term wellness. 

Additional Reading

American Heart Association (2018, Sep 24). Managing Stress at Work Can Help Employee Well-Being, Productivity. Intelex Community. Available from https://community.intelex.com/explore/posts/managing-stress-work-can-help-employee-well-being-productivity 

Michie, S. (2002). Causes and management of stress at work. Occupational and environmental medicine, 59(1), 67-72. 

Stepniowski, J. (2016, April). Quality and Wellness: Using quality tools to improve your health. Quality Progress. Available from http://asq.org/quality-progress/2016/04/quality-in-the-first-person/quality-and-wellness.html 

About the Author: Nicole Radziwill, Vice President, Global Practice Leader, Quality & Supply Chain

Nicole Radziwill is the Vice President, Global Practice Leader, Quality & Supply Chain at Intelex Technologies. Before Intelex, she was an Associate Professor of Data Science and Production Systems, Assistant Director (VP) End-to-End Operations at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and manager and consultant for several other organizations since the late 1990's bringing quality management to technologically-oriented operations. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) with a Ph.D. in Quality Systems from Indiana State University. Nicole serves as Editor of Software Quality Professional (SQP) journal and is a former Chair of the ASQ Software Division. She is an ASQ Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB).

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February 20, 2019 @ 01:40 PM EST Quality

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