2-4-6-8: How Do You Appreciate?


2-4-6-8: How Do You Appreciate?

Employee appreciation and incentive programs can lower turnover rate

You likely spend considerable time and resources in the process of hiring each new employee, but how much are you investing in keeping them? A recent poll of component manufacturers (CMs) indicates labor shortages and high turnover rates continue to be significant pain points. 

“Retention of employees is so important, you’ve done all the work to recruit them and now you want to retain them,” says Justin Richardson, sales manager at Richco Structures in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. “We do a ton of social events, grill outs, brat fries and ice cream trucks,” adds Justin. “I had an ice cream truck come in the winter, it was three dollars an employee, and they loved it. It was one of the best hits we’ve had.” In addition, Richco Structures does employee appreciation days and brings in Qdoba or pizza. “Just little things like that can show you notice and appreciate your employees.”

Appreciation program graph

The Editor’s Message in the January/February 2020 issue of SBC Magazine pointed out that 74 percent of CMs consider labor to be the biggest obstacle they face in trying to either increase production capacity or improve current production efficiency. Another SBC poll conducted recently shows that the top reasons CMs offer employee benefits is to retain staff and minimize turnover. Given its importance, let’s explore how a few CMs are using incentives and appreciation events to lower their turnover rate and keep their employees happier in the workplace.

In a recent SBC poll, 89 percent of CMs indicated they offer healthcare and a number of other benefits. Drilling down into the additional benefits, 79 percent said they host social events for their employees, 54 percent offer production bonuses, and 48 percent provide stipends for equipment such as boots and PPE.

People gathered to eat at Shelter's appreciation day

Shelter’s Employee Appreciation Day featured a grill out and a variety of entertainment including a dunk tank, bean bags, volleyball, and kid-friendly activities like face painting and bouncy houses. 

Respondents felt that the highest valued benefits are healthcare, production bonuses, and bonuses for exceeding other key performance metrics. Close behind are company profit-sharing, equipment stipends, and social events.

Randy Rickels, the safety officer at Shelter Systems Limited in Westminster, Maryland, says employee benefits have a very real impact at his company. “Our company does a gym membership once you’re out of your 60-day probation period,” says Randy. “We just did our first employee appreciation day a while ago and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I advise if you do that, get a dunk tank and sit in it and you’ll see which guys really love you.”

Randy explains that these social events don’t have to cost much, but they do get you involved with your employees in a fun way. “When it’s really hot, we bring in a snow cone truck. It only cost 150 bucks and we give employees an extra fifteen-minute break.”

A man throwing a softball at the dunk tank target

Shelter Systems also does a $100 boot stipend. A boot truck stops at their plant and employees can choose from a selection of approved boots.

Randy suggests that performance-based incentive programs are also a good way to recognize your employees for the work they do when they hit goals. “I’m sure most companies do an incentive program but they may do them differently,” says Randy. “At Shelter we have a projected number of trusses to be built for the week and the entire team, including maintenance and shipping, gets an incentive for reaching that goal. The team’s progress appears on our incentive board and it updates every nine minutes, which helps motivate our team members to get trusses built and out the door. Shelter has also given opportunities to double, triple, and even quadruple the bonus, which they did in the summer of 2019.”

Keeping employees motivated and invested in reaching company goals can go a long way with new employees too. “The new guys coming in see us reaching these goals and they’re like ʻwow this is a great, great company,ʼ” says Randy. “Anything like this or other appreciation activities you can provide to make them happy is worth it and it helps you connect with them.”

Both Justin and Randy point out that offering employee incentives and appreciation events can help build community among employees and keep morale up. If you don’t know where to start, check in with your employees and see what they would appreciate and find valuable. 

To learn more about CM strategies for hiring and retaining employees, go to SBCA’s web pages on training and retention and read other workforce development case studies

About the Author: Laura Soderlund explores business and manufacturing best practices to help component manufacturers advance the use of their innovative products and grow their workforce.