In this series, I want to highlight steps I took in my past organization to support an inclusive culture.
English as a Second Language
My organization, MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc., had a significant barrier to finding qualified employees. This organization was a manufacturing organization. We were seeing a significant amount of employee turnover, absenteeism, and other quality issues on our second shift. The job performed on the 2nd shift was not a very desirable job. It was dirty, hard physical work, and it was a challenge to retain new employees. Quite frankly, the work sucked, and we were seeing almost 100% employee turnover every year.
We could not find enough applicants to fill the open spots, let alone qualified applicants willing to perform the work.
Instead of whining about "no good applicants", we instead changed our thinking to "how can we find good applicants". We approached this by expanding the talent pool we recruited from. We reached out into their community and partnered with a local nonprofit, EMBARC, that was working directly with individuals who had a barrier to successful employment.
In this case, the barrier was the English language. Many of the individuals that the nonprofit was serving did not speak English as a first language. Instead of focusing on what these individuals could not do, this organization focused on the skills that they had, and instead invested in training for the English language.
We hired a certified trainer and translator, Poe (pictured), to help lead a crew of individuals who are learning how to speak English, effectively. This individual trained and translated in the area in need. He also referred over 20 employees to come work in this area.
We partnered with Hawkeye Community College, our local school, and started teaching classes on site for those who wanted to learn English. We saw an overwhelmingly positive response to this program.
The results of this program resulted in a zero percent turnover rate in the group over a six month period of time, compared to the previous turnover rate of 100%. The overtime in the department reduced by 75%. This is equated to roughly $12,000 in savings. The unplanned absenteeism rate within this area was 50% lower than the average absenteeism rate at the rest of the organization.
In this case, inclusion became the strategy to address workforce needs, and became a wonderful Human Experience for all involved.
Inclusion = Workforce solutions.
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