Success coach program helps employees at Michigan molder

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Jeremy Carroll Diane Hiles, director of finance and administration at Anderson Technologies, discusses the company's success coach program at the Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference.

Indianapolis — Diane Hiles noticed employees at Anderson Technologies Inc. weren't taking advantage of the company's employee assistance program.

"We were lucky to see one or two people use it in a quarter," Hiles said. "It's free. It's confidential. Why weren't people using this program?"

That's when Hiles, director of finance and administration, decided to try a different approach. The injection molder in Grand Haven, Mich., teamed up with several other area businesses and hired a success coach. The success coach is employed by the state and comes to the facility at least once a week to meet one-on-one with employees who might be having issues at home.

Hiles outlined the program during the Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference organized by the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors in Indianapolis.

The success coach is connected to various nonprofit and assistance agencies to help with people who could be struggling in any number of areas including childcare or simply falling behind on bills.

Hiles said there's a loan program through a local credit union that gives employees $1,000 and a year to pay it back in small increments. The worker is also required to put an additional $10 a month into a savings account that can't be touched until the loan is paid back in full.

Hiles said the program costs about $100 per employee and has helped break down barriers that might be holding employees back.

"Two years into the program, and we're seeing a difference in our workforce," Hiles said. "They are making better decisions, personally and professionally."

Jeremy Carroll Cynamyn Williams, human resources manager for Harmony Systems and Service Inc.

Hiring for attitude

Cynamyn Williams, human resources manager for Harmony Systems and Service Inc., also discussed workforce development issues at the conference.

The injection molder in Piqua, Ohio, has about 100 full-time employees and 50 temporary employees, and retaining good help has been difficult.

"We struggle daily to find a good, productive workforce," she said.

Instead of looking for specific skills, it is now focusing simply on attitude. And it has partnered with RT Industries to hire individuals with developmental disabilities.

"They have the mindset and the attitude that we look for," Williams said about the workers they've hired with developmental disabilities. "They have the 'I can, I will, I want to,' attitude every day. And when you have the right attitude, you can fill the right job."

With the partnership, RT Industries sends over a job coach with each new hire to help them adjust to the work and help the company work the individual.

Currently, Harmony Systems has 10 RT Industries working full-time with benefits. After a few years of the program, Williams said the retention rate for these employees is astonishingly high. Currently, the RT Industries employees have a retention rate of 760 days, way above the retention rate of regular full-time employees of 436 days.

"These employees are not just getting by, they are excelling," Williams said. "They are a really valuable part of our workforce."