Nissan aims to use human resources strategies to propel its Sunderland site into the top five most productive car plants in the world.
According to personnel director Philip Ashmore, Nissan UK has cherry-picked the best Japanese working practices. But he said many of the work practices at the plant, such as flexible hours and training schemes offering staff continuous improvement of skills, were created in the UK.
The plant’s productivity improved 7% to 105 vehicles per worker per year in 1998 – top of the European league, according to figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit. But it is 10th in the world, behind plants in Korea and Japan. The top-producing factory, which is yet to be named, produces 160 cars per employee.
`We deliberately bench-marked ourselves against our parent company in Japan,’ said Ashmore. `Success is down to a combination of human resources practices and investment in capital. Much of it is due to systems of working and striving for continuous improvement.’