By Jeff Kerlin, President & CEO & Nicole Richard, Director of Human Resources

TLP’s Keys to Employee Engagement

Have you seen the quote floating around your social network, “Pay attention to how companies treat their employees during this time. It speaks volumes to their core ethics.”

Getting and keeping employees engaged and connected during normal times is challenging. These days, when our teams are stressed, scared and weary, it can be even more challenging. I’ll argue, it can also be a bit easier. People want something to believe in and something to rally around. Keeping each other safe, and keeping the company that supports all the associated families viable, is a cause that most people can grab on to.

Using our core values and our company ethics, as a guide, here are three things that TLP is doing to weather the storm.

Keeping Employees Engaged at TLP:

  1. Reigniting continuous improvement initiatives: Using these slower times to tackle projects and training we’ve been putting off can make our companies and employees stronger, create a bond between team members, and better prepare us for the road ahead.
  2. Maintaining internal and external communication and transparency: Regularly checking in with our team members / customers / vendors and asking them how they and their families are doing is powerful. They want to know we care about them and that our company will be OK.
  3. Employee Engagement, Tailored Label Products

    TLP Employees Enjoy a Summer Treat!

    Don’t forget the FUN: In the midst of all of this, I believe it’s important to have fun as well.This week, I’ve been recording myself telling quick “Dad joke” videos and sending them out to the whole company. We also have theme days for work attire. Sweats day, Tie Dye day, etc… It’s corny stuff but I believe our folks appreciate the effort and the intent.

We want our employees, customers and vendors to remember, after all this has passed, the stability and support they felt within the work environment at TLP and within their relationship with TLP.

Our goal for our company, and for others, can’t be simply to survive. We should aim to thrive, coming out of this nightmare stronger than we were before it came.

Find out more about how we do business at TLP by clicking over to our ABOUT US section. 

By Jeff Kerlin , President & CEO at Tailored Label Products, Inc.
Milwaukee Business Journal Leadership Trust
When it comes to employee engagement, we often think of things like profit sharing, celebrations, communication and recognition. While these things are certainly important, we’ve found that having a robust cross-training culture not only allows us to better serve our customers, but it also increases the engagement of our team members.
My company uses a cross-training program that we call 3×3. The goal is to have three employees (at least) trained to “rock star” level on every machine or process in our plant — and the same for every office position as well.
We have a large matrix that lists each machine or process on one axis, and then every employee on the other axis. Each employee’s level of training is denoted by an A, B, C or T, or it’s left blank. We want every employee to be at a level A in at least three different areas.
  • A is a fully trained rock star.
  • B is someone who can do approximately 85% of the work.
  • C is someone who can do the basic, routine work.
  • T is someone who has just begun training.
  • A blank space denotes no training in this area at all.

Benefits of Cross Training Employees

The benefits of a robust cross-training system are obvious. Staffing flexibility and increased machine uptime are immediate wins that pay huge dividends when you’re constantly reacting to changing customer demands.

There are several side benefits, however, that we didn’t anticipate:

  • Competitive, high-achieving and self-confident employees love this program. Employees compete to see who can have the most A’s in a particular department.
  • It’s an easy way to identify strong learners and not-so-strong ones.
  • It reinforces the idea that no one exclusively owns a process or machine. Gone are the days of “This is my press,” or “This is my customer, and no one should touch the account while I’m out.”
  • Employees may discover that they absolutely love a new process and would like to work more in a particular area.
  • Employees are often surprised by what they learn about themselves as they take on the challenge of learning something new that they’ve never been exposed to.
  • Employees who are being cross-trained in a new area or process quickly develop an appreciation for what their teammates do each day. And they often offer up new ideas as a result of their fresh perspective.
  • Employees genuinely appreciate the investment you’re making in them as individuals as well as the investment you’re making in the company as a whole.
  • Employees understand that cross-training allows the company to keep headcount as low as possible and thereby share the profits with fewer folks.

cross training employees, benefits of cross training employees

If you’d like to implement a similar system in your own company, here’s my advice.

First, conduct a risk assessment of each department in which you’d like to implement 3×3. The assessment should reveal your current level of risk for each process/role, answering questions such as: What is the likelihood that there could be no trained employees on this process? How big of an issue is it if you are without a trained employee for a given time? How long will it take to train someone new in this role?

Once your assessment is completed, you can prioritize your cross-training plan according to your risks and the availability of existing employees who are capable of learning other roles. If you have a high-risk role and no one internally who can learn it, you may need to consider hiring someone.

For obvious reasons, getting a department completely trained in 3×3 takes a lot of time. Consider setting an initial goal of 2×2, and strive for a time when no process relies on just one person.

Remember, this program should not only mitigate risks and provide you and your team with peace of mind, but it should also be an exciting opportunity for your team members to learn new skills and help each other. As with any change in an organization, though, be prepared for resistance. Sell your team on the “why,” and maybe even incentivize them or make a competition out of it.

This program has brought us closer together as one big team and made it a whole lot easier for our teammates to have each others’ backs. Hopefully it can do the same for you.

Originally published in the Milwaukee Business Journal Leadership Trust: Original Article

Milwaukee Business Journal Leadership Trust is an invitation-only network of influential business leaders in our community. See if you qualify by clicking here

Have you registered for Manufacturing Matters 2020? This year’s theme, is Focus and Go and the day-long event on Thursday, February 27th will be filled with a variety of breakout sessions, networking opportunities and keynotes all in celebration of Wisconsin-based manufacturing. Knowing that we all have busy days, WMEP has jam-packed the day with six different break-out tracks so that each attendee can tailor the conference to their specific needs. During the breaks, chat with peers, take in a variety of exhibit booths and network with different suppliers and service providers that have sponsored the event.

As a long-time supporter and sponsor of the event, TLP will be on-site in both presenter and attendee. Finding value in the agenda of the event, several team members from TLP’s team will be in attendance, learning and networking along with our fellow manufacturers.

In addition, Jeff Kerlin, TLP’s President & CEO, will be presenting as a panelist for Growth with a Focus:

While technical expertise and an innovative drive propel TLP to the forefront of manufacturing, it’s our keen focus on the <em>right</em> customer that really sets us apart, something that Jeff drives day in and day out. Jeff and the team at TLP live by a “qualify fast” mindset in building quality partnerships with their portfolio of customers. Knowing that they are not a one size fits all label shop, Jeff and his team have continually honed their practice of prospecting, engaging and retaining customers. Knowing the exact makeup of their ideal fit for a customer is paramount. Defining the key characteristics, and sticking to them, while nurturing leads and growing current business is a constant strategic focus.

Focus & Go with TLP by registering now: