n Journal of Contemporary Management - The effect of Lean on staff morale in a rural district hospital outpatient department in KwaZulu-Natal

Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1815-7440



Ineffective operations management in health care facilities contributes to poor service delivery and a lackluster work environment. Non-value-adding activities result in job discontentment and low staff morale. This operational action-research aims to identify the effect of Lean on staff morale. The sample consisted of all service nodes and employees of a rural district hospital outpatient department in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A pre- and post-intervention assessment of staff morale was conducted. At the 95% confidence level, pre- and post-intervention scores were compared using paired t-tests or Wilcoxon paired signed-rank tests depending on data distribution. Bivariate analyses for proportions were carried out using Fisher's test. The implementation of Lean had a positive impact on the proportion of staff satisfied with their jobs (increased from 21.1% to 77.8%; p<0.0001) and those that felt motivated (increased from 15.8% to 77.8%; p<0.0001). The proportion of staff who felt that things were getting better in their department, increased from 21.1% to 83.3% (p<0.0001). Pre- and post-intervention scores for communication strength (p=0.0003) and staff attitude toward teamwork (p=0.002) significantly improved. The application of Lean has a positive effect on job satisfaction and staff morale. The lessons learnt from this study may be emulated for staff morale improvement across similar hospitals.

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