The Workplace Challenge Programme by the DTI

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Workplace Challenge Programme The Workplace Challenge Programme (WPC) is a focused supply side intervention by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), managed by Productivity South Africa, aiming to actively encourage and support negotiated workplace change towards enhancing productivity and world-class competitiveness, best operating practices, continuous improvement, and lean manufacturing while resulting in job creation.

The WPC assists South African manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing, mining and beneficiation businesses. WPC is operated in the context of enterprises participating in regional clusters that are made up of five to seven companies in the industrial areas of all the provinces. The clusters are facilitated over a period of 24 months by Productivity SA coaches called Change Facilitators. The WPC is a joint initiative of the National Economic Development Labour Council (NEDLAC) and the DTI.

The key objectives of the WPC include:

  • Implementing leadership practices in participating enterprises that promote teamwork, participation, continuous learning and flexibility.
  • Focusing on simultaneous improvement of quality, speed / delivery, cost and morale in participating enterprises.
  • Establishing close links with customers and suppliers of participating enterprises.
  • Driving both linear (kaizen) and non-linear (kaikaku) improvement initiatives within the participating enterprises.
  • Eliminating all forms of waste and making value flow within participating enterprises.

The Workplace Challenge Cluster Programme utilises five Workplace Transformation Toolkits to effect development within companies participating Workplace Challenge clusters.

Workplace Challenge Programme

Management System Toolkit of the Workplace Challenge Programme

The Management System of the Workplace Transformation Toolkit aims at helping organisations to make a successful transition to a culture of continuous improvement. The Management System teaches participants to apply the principles of PDCA (plan-do-check-act or plan-do-check-adjust)- to plan, to implement according to plan, to review plans, to take corrective actions, and to celebrate achievements. It teaches participants about consistent and regular communication, and to start off on the right foot by having a purpose and a vision for the transformation of their workplace.

Goal Alignment Toolkit

Performance is only possible if common goals are owned and pursued by all teams. Goal alignment is often the first Toolkit implemented by the WPC coaches. The toolkit aims to encourage communication and aligning goals and targets throughout the organisation, down to first-line team level; aligning top-down and bottom-up management; and creating effective organisation structures so that everybody will know where they fit in and what they are responsible for.

Cleaning and Organising Toolkit of the Workplace Challenge Programme

Cleaning and organising is one of the most important foundations for continuous improvement. Cleaning and organising is about making work easier and creating a functional, visually organised workplace of which people are proud. A sustained, high level of implementation supports high levels of safety, quality and productivity, low cost and fast, on-time delivery. Cleaning and organising is also known as 5S: sort and discard, set in order, shine, standardise, and self-discipline.

Teamwork Toolkit

Teamwork is one of four foundational elements of the Workplace Transformation Toolkit. It aims at creating an understanding of the importance and role of teamwork in workplace and business improvement; it helps to create a culture of continuous improvement; the toolkit equips teams with the knowledge to implement small group activities and Kaizen projects; it equips teams with the knowledge to apply basic problem solving techniques.

Leadership Toolkit

The aim of leadership is to strengthen the skills of every first-line manager to develop, lead and inspire productive teams to ensure that all team members are developed to their full potential. The managers of team leaders play an important role in the successful implementation WPC, they need to coach their team leaders on an ongoing basis, on the skills introduced by the WPC, as well as provide support for implementation of other elements of the Workplace Transformation Toolkit.

Green Productivity Toolkit

Workplace Challenge Programme The WPC coaches use the Green Productivity Toolkit to coach participating enterprises to implement Kaizen projects, aimed at improving their own carbon footprint, water footprint, chemical footprint, paper footprint and human energy footprint.

Productivity SA uses Continuous Improvement / Best Practice Coaching and doing regular audits to assist Cluster members with the implementation of Workplace Transformation Toolkits. The coaching process focuses on developing capacity in companies to understand operational problems and implement a Continuous Improvement Culture and solutions by themselves.


  • Participating enterprises are assisted to focus on business objectives and alignment throughout the organisation.
  • Enterprises are coached towards improved competitiveness and service delivery through continuous improvement of quality (improving customer satisfaction), speed (ensuring on-time delivery), cost effectiveness (reducing reject rate / waste) and morale (reducing absenteeism).
  • Enterprises often see immediate results in the workplace, in the form of a visually clean and well-organised workplace.
  • Leaders and teams are equipped with the tools and skills to implement world-best practices. Companies are coached in implementing world-class manufacturing principles.
  • One of the results is enhanced teamwork and spontaneous participation, continuous learning, and useful product or process innovations from the shop floor.
  • Attendance of Milestone Workshops where participants can benefit from mutual sharing in the lessons learned by each.

Any stable enterprise from micro-, small, medium sized up to large or corporate companies in the manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing, mining and beneficiation sectors may approach the WPC contacts in the regions to sign a contract with Productivity SA for participating in the 24 month programme. The regional WPC will make an appointment for discussing the implementation of the WPC, before contracting. Participation fees payable.

Participation is subsidised by the DTI, on a sliding scale as follows:

Workplace Challenge Programme

  • Black-owned SME’s smaller than 50 employees – 90 % subsidy. The enterprise pays 10 % to Productivity SA, based on the number of coaching / support days needed.
  • Small enterprises between 15 to 100 employees – 78 to 76 % subsidy. The enterprise pays 22 to 24 %.
  • Medium enterprises between 101 to 400 employees – 67 to 64 % subsidy. The enterprise pays 33 to 36 %.
  • Large enterprises between 401 to 700 employees – 53 to 49 % subsidy. The enterprise pays 47 to 51 %.
  • Corporate enterprises between 701 to larger than 900 – less than 38 % subsidy. The enterprise will pay more than 60 %, based on a customised quote.

Contact us for more information on how you can access the Workplace Challenge Programme for your business.