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34 PalletCentral • May-June 2015 ccording to the Aberdeen Research group, best- in-class companies cite their #1 driver of employee engagement as employee recognition. That includes reinforcing positive behaviors or helping employees feel appreciated and in turn they will be motivated. However, putting a recognition practice in place takes discipline and a little bit of extra effort. It means creating a culture where recognition becomes commonplace throughout your company and is an expected part of all managers responsibilities. Understanding engagement, along with employee retention, communication and the bottom line in the workplace environment, are ongoing and important topics of discussion in business, especially in any manufacturing environment. From the Shop floor to the top, engaged employees drive performance. With engagement at an all-time low, what are employers in the pallet industry doing to build a better workplace environment for their workers? Industry experts Louise Dickmeyer, president of PDP Solutions; Kathleen Dietrich, operations manager of Commercial Lumber and Pallet; and Howe Wallace, CEO of PalletOne share their insights. Employee Recognition: Top Driver of Engagement According to Louise Dickmeyer, there are many things you can do both small and large that are great ways to recognize employees. Make it a discipline and an expectation, and in no time engagement levels in your company will start to climb. The best and easiest way to be recognized is in person. Verbal, on the spot recognition offered immediately when something worthy of notice was done, is really powerful, and shouldn't be overlooked. That recognition can come from a colleague, a peer, a leader, or someone a pay grade or more below you. It doesn't matter where the recognition originates. Saying "job well done" helps build a positive work environment, therefore increases retention. Having had the privilege of serving on a panel addressing employee engagement with industry leaders Kathleen Dietrich, operations manager of Commercial Lumber and Pallet, and Howe Wallace, CEO of PalletOne, "I called on their expertise regarding retention and they had plenty to share," said Louise. Below is a sampling of initiatives being used by these fellow pallet manufacturing operations. • Recognize employees monthly, at a safety meeting for example, highlighting all the birthdays in that month. • Provide a free lunch for employees around major holidays like the Fourth of July or Christmas. • Use a monetary reward for teams and individuals after 30 days without an injury. The longer the period of being accident-free, the higher the reward. • Introduce all new employees at a monthly standing meeting. • Safety Related: > Conduct safety walks to review if personal protective equipment (PPE) standards are being met, and instead of writing people up who do not have all their PPE, reward those who do. > Pay safety bonuses for achieving safe workplace objectives. > Provide new safety shoes to every employee once a year. Industry Thought Leaders Building a Better Workplace Environment By Louise Dickmeyer and Annette Ferri HR A

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