Innovation is paramount for remaining on the cutting edge in today’s business climate, and companies realize the key to innovation is having a team of talented, hard-working individuals. And according to a recent survey conducted by Express Employment Professionals, businesses are getting more and more creative to retain and develop their top talent. Express, the nation’s largest privately held staffing firm, surveyed businesses to learn how they are taking action to stay competitive in today’s economy, while still maintaining a happy, productive workforce. Of the innovative things businesses are doing, most focused on developing a skilled workforce, improving access to healthcare, and fostering a positive work environment. Here are some examples of what real companies are doing to focus on their biggest asset – their employees.
Developing a Skilled Workforce
Wolverine Coil Spring, a metal products manufacturer in Grand Rapids, Mich., takes part in the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership with Grand Rapids Community College, which allows employees to earn their associate’s degrees and have the education paid for by their employers. The student-employee gets a quality education and in-demand credentials, and Wolverine Coil Spring gets a more skilled, educated workforce.
Companies in the Rochester, N.Y., area partner with Rochester Community and Technical College, United Way, and the local Express Employment Professionals office on an internship program for welders. The program allows participants to hone their skills and then helps them find full-time work after a two-week internship. “Welders are in short supply and strong demand throughout New York and the rest of the country,” said Peter Brown, Express franchisee in Rochester, N.Y.
Improving Access to Healthcare
ProClinic, which runs health clinics in Gulf Breeze, Milton, and Pensacola, Fla., recently launched a “Medical Membership” program. It functions much like a gym membership and gives members access to basic health services for a flat rate of $25 per month. The membership includes unlimited access to all three clinics, a free annual flu vaccine, a 10 percent discount on lab work, and unlimited visits with a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant for a $10 co-pay. The visits include basic tests, treatments, and procedures at no extra charge. While the Medical Membership is not insurance, it does provide patients basic health care – and peace of mind – at a reasonable and predictable cost of $300 per year.
Fostering a Positive Environment
At the Tupelo, Miss., office of window blinds manufacturer Hunter Douglas, all temporary employees are included in the company’s employee appreciation events. As a result of being treated like full-time employees, many of them opt to take a full time job with the company when a position becomes available. Express franchisee Jim Goodwin reports, “We know of many of our former associates who started at Hunter Douglas as temps more than 20 years ago, who have been working there as full-time employees and have been supporting their families and communities ever since.”
At Marian, Inc., in Indianapolis, employees are treated to a monthly employee appreciation lunch. But it’s no ordinary lunch. The executive team cooks the food and dishes it out. “Such a gesture can make a world of difference. Bosses show appreciation for employees’ service by serving their employees,” said Mike Heffner, Express franchisee in Indianapolis.
A Shift in Focus
Business leaders know that they’re only as strong as their employees who are on the front line every day working directly with customers and raising awareness for their brand. So as the work atmosphere evolves, companies across North America are pouring more time and energy into keeping their teams productive and creative with fresh, innovative ideas. Businesses like Wolverine Coil Spring and Marian, Inc., are setting the standard for retention and employee development – and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
What have you done to show employee appreciation? Do you have any innovative ideas you have implemented at your office? Let us know in the comments section below!