At Ellington, Conn.-based Dymotek Corp., CEO Norm Forest makes sure employees are rewarded for all their hard work by planning monthly fun activities, both on-site and out of the office.
Every summer, Dymotek plans a picnic for employees and their families as a day of appreciation.
"It's kind of like an Employee Appreciation Day," Forest said. "We'll raffle off some gifts for the employees and treat their families."
The last summer picnic was held at a farm, where hayrides, pumpkin patches and corn mazes were involved. Another previous picnic included zip-lines and various games.
Dymotek was ranked No. 8 for Best Places to Work 2016, but it comes in at No. 6 for 2017.
Each June, Forest organizes a barbecue for his 100-plus employees.
"What I'll do is come in every lunch break for every shift and just cook burgers, hot dogs and chicken and make a summer barbecue on their lunch break so that they can participate," he said. "I feel strongly about doing it myself because it's a way to give back for all of their hard work throughout the year. I know a lot of folks look forward to that as well."
Monthly activities at the injection molding company involve some training or information sessions, such as discussing hygiene and the spread of virus during the fall months.
"We hand out little Purcell [hand sanitizers]," Forest said. "We do those types of things every month."
For American Heart Month in February, employees would wear red hairnets. They also wore green hairnets in March for St. Patrick's Day.
But it's not all fun and games at Dymotek.
"In my mind, a fantastic employee is an owner," he said. "I talk about it a lot. I want folks that are engaged and that own their role. We set the expectation of what we're after. We train so that they know how they impact [the company].
"With owners, everyone feels a sense of accomplishment and a sense of family and so on. It's owners through engagement. It was taught to me a while ago: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," he added.
Forest, who joined Dymotek in 1997 as a plant manager, said listening and open communication are the core values he stresses with employees.
"I feel that I have a relationship with every associate in the company," Forest said. "I don't get the opportunity to walk the floors as much as I would like, but I walk the floor whenever [possible]."
At least twice per year, employees are able to have face-to-face time with the CEO to ask any questions they have.
"The roundtables are just in an office or conference room where I'll give some brief highlights of what's going on in the business, and then I'll accept any questions that they have. If they don't have questions, then I'll ask them a question. The reason I ask them a question is just so that they get used to participating," Forest said. "Then, we post all of those things. It's gotten so popular that, a lot of times, people are fighting to get into the next roundtable because they truly like to be a part and get their questions answered."
Forest said management roundtables and employee surveys have helped provide significant feedback to shape its current company culture. He added that Dymotek is "always trying to make things better."
"As far as the employees, I really do push folks for better improvement for making things better," he said. "What I really love about them is, even at the direct operator level, they're not afraid to push me. It makes it a great relationship. It's not me; it's all of them who make me who I am."
Dymotek Corp., Ellington, Conn., injection molder, 102 employees.