Tag Archive for: Workplace

No Limits Hiring

by June 26, 2017, 1:00 AM

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The Froedtert Hospital pharmacy handles thousands upon thousands of pounds of inventory each year – all of it needing to be stocked, sorted, labeled and distributed. When it comes to prescription medication, there’s no room for error.

Noah Franz manages the operation, and when he first learned a new program was coming to the hospital – one that gives people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to intern in various departments – he happily got on board. It would be a good opportunity for his technicians to help the interns develop their job skills, he thought.

Once the interns joined his team, those initial expectations proved too low.

“That idea radically changed,” Franz recalled.

While the program did provide opportunities for mentorship and training, the interns soon became highly valuable assets to the team, offering the manual labor needed to make the operation run smoothly. In fact, Franz hired on one of the interns and, within a year, he outgrew the position he was hired to do.

“They are some of the most independent and accurate people that work for me today,” he said.

The pharmacy industry – like many health care sectors – faces an impending demand for workers in future years, as the population ages and the need for care rises. The increased demand placed on pharmacies has caused the role of the technician to expand. And with pharmacies now needing workers to complete the tasks technicians once performed – stocking, labeling and sorting – it’s left an opening for new workers.

Enter the Project SEARCH interns.

“They have filled a gap in our organization of entry-level positions that we can’t find today,” Franz said.

The internship program at Froedtert, called Project SEARCH – a nationwide model coordinated in Wisconsin by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in partnership with businesses, schools, and vocational and disability services agencies – is offered at more than 25 sites across the state, including Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells, the Milwaukee County Zoo, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa and Waukesha-based ProHealth Care. About 85 percent of program interns in the state find employment after graduation.

“It’s about putting people to work; it’s not just a feel-good program,” said Gary Colpaert, vice president of clinical and support services at Froedtert, regarding Project SEARCH. “This is obviously a really great feel-good program, because you’re doing the right things and it matches our values. But it really is about putting people to work. And when you find somebody who is a great employee, who’s going to talk to your patients and colleagues with respect and learn something new, that’s just a win-win.”

Not just charity

As many industries face looming worker shortages, employers are beginning to view the employment of people with disabilities not as an act of charity, but rather as an important workforce development strategy.

And as Wisconsin’s unemployment rate drops to its lowest point in 17 years, the presenting challenge for employers is finding workers to fill openings. Conditions could be right for employers to begin adjusting their practices.  

“In the short term, we have a perfect storm between a shortage of employees and the need, especially for part-time or semi-skilled employees,” said Bob Glowacki, chief executive officer of Easterseals Southeast Wisconsin. “… (Easterseals) is actually trying to feed the economy. We’re trying to make sure places like Amazon and Uline have employees they need for their factories.”

While Wisconsin has seen notable improvement in the unemployment rate among people with disabilities, the gap between that demographic and able-bodied adults persists. In 2015, the national unemployment rate for people with a disability was 10.7 percent, more than double that of those without a disability (5.1 percent), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet Wisconsin’s employment rate among people with disabilities of 41.2 percent outpaces the national average of 34 percent.

Gov. Scott Walker has made the issue a priority. In 2014, his “Better Bottom Line” initiative was launched in an effort to encourage employers to hire workers with disabilities. As part of the effort, the state expanded Project SEARCH, backed by $850,000 in funding to grow the program from seven sites to a total of 27 as of this fall. That effort has seen promising results, with nearly 9,500 individuals with disabilities having found employment because of it.

In fact, Wisconsin recently broke into the top 10 states for its employment of people with disabilities. The state moved up from No. 16 in 2010 to No. 10 in 2015, according to the University of New Hampshire’s Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.

Evolving opportunities

Momentum may be increasing when it comes to the employment of people with disabilities, but such opportunities have not always been available to them.

Only in recent decades have people with disabilities found work in competitive integrated settings, thanks to the nation’s evolving disability rights laws and shifting employer attitudes.

For decades, sheltered workshops provided an outlet for people with disabilities to experience socialization, to have a safe place to go during the day, and to receive some – albeit sub-minimum wage – compensation.

In the 1960s, disability rights were folded into the civil rights movement and the establishment of laws to ensure protections for individuals with disabilities followed. For one, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provided equal opportunity for employment in the federal government and federally-funded programs, prohibiting discrimination based on physical or mental disability. Shortly after, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act ensured equal access to public education for students with disabilities.

Perhaps equally important has been the evolution of societal attitudes and beliefs related to the abilities of people with disabilities. The mainstreaming of children with disabilities in particular has helped destigmatize disabilities and foster more familiarity with them.

“People with disabilities have been mainstreamed and people are very comfortable with a person in the desk next to them having a disability,” Glowacki said. “We have the recognition that more people have challenges – and not just that they have a disability that people can see, but also invisible disabilities. Now, people are more comfortable having a person with a disability work with them because they’ve seen it their whole lives.”

As attitudes have changed, so have the expectations among those with disabilities for competitive integrated employment – aided by a host of services aimed at providing the training and coordination needed for them to be placed in the right job.

Ready to hire

Now, Glowacki sees the tide shifting, with employers seeking out help from organizations like Easterseals.

The organization recently hosted a “reverse job fair” at the Milwaukee County Zoo, during which employers were invited to rub shoulders with interns and see their job skills on display.

Elizabeth Strike was among the employers in attendance. A diversity and inclusion talent consultant at Associated Bank, Strike went in ready to hire.

Strike has had recent discussions regarding the employment of people with disabilities and veterans to reduce the turnover rate the company often sees in its teller positions.

“Hiring some of them that we met at the reverse job fair will help with that,” Strike said. “They have the skills we’re looking for and on top of that they’re stable, they will increase morale, they will reduce turnover.”

She left the fair having identified seven candidates for teller and IT positions.

As Associated Bank takes steps toward its goal of becoming the “employer of choice for individuals with disabilities,” it has established a new colleague resource network for individuals with disabilities, along with creating a more tailored onboarding process for those employees and raising awareness about disabilities in the company.

But the company has run into some challenges while launching the initiative, particularly the under-reporting of disabilities among employees.

“We sent out a survey to see who would disclose and only maybe five or six people disclosed that they have a disability,” Strike said. “So (maybe) they were afraid because we just established this network … . We’re hoping that our survey results will improve … because we want people to feel safe, we want people to feel that they can disclose a disability and we want to provide resources for them, as well.”

Glowacki said it’s common for disabilities to go unreported in the workplace, whether because an employee fears discrimination or because the employee simply doesn’t want to identify with a disability.

“I think there is a certain stigma in that ‘disability’ means I’m not successful,” Glowacki said.

A model employeeEnabled Employment, No Limits Hiring

Every morning, Patrick Young is ready for work with impeccable punctuality.

A Tailored Label Products Inc. employee of nearly 12 years, Young works three shifts per week at the Menomonee Falls-based manufacturing company, where he primarily assembles products.

Young, who has Down syndrome, gets picked up in the morning by his coworker, Larry Harvey, who manages marketing and communications for the company.

“He’s always so excited to get in to work,” Harvey said. “He’s waiting there for me. I’ve never been there earlier than when he’s ready to go to work. He’s incredibly punctual.”

He’s also unparalleled in his efficiency. One of Young’s main responsibilities is assembling pizza boxes – a task he executes with incredible speed.

From his station on Tailored Label Products’ manufacturing floor, Young demonstrated on a recent afternoon a routine he’s repeated more than a million times. Taking a piece of flat, perforated cardboard, he makes a few quick folds and in the blink of an eye, he’s holding up the finished product, smiling.

He has even put his skills to the test, welcoming challenges from coworkers who want to race him. They haven’t come close to his speed.

Young’s colleagues are effusive about his performance and attitude. He’s a “model employee,” they said.

“Nobody can say a negative thing about Patrick,” said Nicole Richard, human resources director. “He’s reliable. He’s a hard worker. I think it has changed some mindsets about working with individuals with disabilities.”

“We’re as dependent on him as he would be dependent on us as an employer,” added Lindsey Muchka, a regional application engineer who’s supervised Young. “It’s not just a feel-good thing. He serves an important purpose here. He’s an employee through and through.”

In fact, the only challenge in supervising Young, Muchka said, is keeping his schedule full.

“What you think will take two hours might take 30 minutes,” Muchka said. “He’s very focused. If you give him a task, he’s going to do it and he’s going to do it quickly. The hardest thing some days is filling his day, keeping him busy.”

Meanwhile, for Young, his employment at Tailored Label has the meant the shift from dependence to independence. When he started with the company, he was living at home with his parents. These days, he has his own apartment and enjoys living his life in Menomonee Falls.

“I’m totally in the community,” Young said.

And that, Muchka said, illustrates the positive “ripple effects” of hiring individuals with disabilities – a significant return on investment for the community.

“He went from dependent to independent,” Muchka said. “And he now has the funds and ability to give back to the community where he rents and lives. He lives here, he goes to the gym here, he buys his groceries here, he benefits the companies that are also in Menomonee Falls. That’s a complete circle here.”


There’s evidence to suggest more employers are moving in the direction of Tailored Label Products and Associated Bank – making concerted efforts to recruit and retain employees with disabilities.

Beth Lohmann, employment and community services director for Easterseals Southeast Wisconsin, noted a recent call she received from a big-box store, seeking her help to train the store’s staff members who have disabilities. She considers that a shift in attitude from what she’s previously seen from employers.

“In the past, the employer would probably have let that person go because they couldn’t do their job,” Lohmann said. “But now they’re on the other side saying, ‘I’ve invested in this person.’”

At Tailored Label, Richard said, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Easterseals have been a valuable resource in helping the company navigate the HR side of employing someone with disabilities.

“Once you dip your foot in the pond, you’ll find it’s not as scary as you think it’s going to be,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for us and for them to make a good fit.”

For Young, it’s proven helpful to establish a designated group of mentors to whom he can go when he has questions or needs directions for his next task. If one person is unavailable, Young knows the next supervisor in line to help him.

While Tailored Label is a mid-sized company, Richard said these types of accommodations are scalable to larger and smaller operations.

“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” she said.

Lohmann encourages companies to think creatively about their job responsibilities. For example, could a full-time job be divided into two part-time jobs that play to different employees’ strengths?

“Sometimes when an employer is trying to hire someone, they want someone who can do everything,” she said. “So sometimes the first thought in their mind is, ‘That person can’t cashier, so they’re out,’ as opposed to splitting job functions.”

She also recommends rethinking the onboarding process for employees with disabilities. Rather than handing them a 10-page manual, why not offer a video tutorial instead?

Special abilities

Viktor Kreider was among the first round of Project SEARCH interns to go through Froedtert’s pharmacy rotation last year.

Kreider excelled at the tasks assigned to him and the hospital hired him on as a part-time employee following his internship. Initially, he was completing the distribution work technicians have become too busy to do, but he’s since outgrown the role and Franz is looking to fill that position with a new Project SEARCH intern.

“Viktor is now functioning at the level of an inventory technician for us,” Franz said.

So the department created a new position for Kreider, through which he has the opportunity to mentor the interns whose shoes he was in just last year.

In each of its hires, Colpaert said, Froedtert is looking for someone who will fit the hospital’s culture.

“We need people with special abilities, people who can take complex tasks and create standard work out of them, so it’s repeatable, it’s reliable,” Colpaert said. “We didn’t have context where we were hiring somebody with disabilities – we had a context here where we hired people with unique special abilities. And these folks have talent for being very accurate, following through and showing up on time, respect and courtesy, and a unique skill for wanting to learn. That’s right in our wheelhouse.”

Franz said finding the right employee for an opening simply requires an open mind.

“In the Milwaukee area, there is definitely a worker shortage,” Franz said. “And it’s easy to look at the surface and say, ‘Their communication skills aren’t great,’ … but if I were to speak to another employer, I would say look beyond the surface and see them in action and you will be blown away by their abilities.”

Meanwhile, Kreider, now in his tailor-made position, says he’s working at his “dream job.”

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(TLP) is a custom manufacturer of high-performance labels, tags, and die-cut adhesives. TLP provides custom engineered adhesive and label solutions for the electronics, automotive, aerospace, industrial, biomedical, medical equipment, hydraulic fluid and power industries. For more information, contact TLP at 800.727.1344 or visit www.tailoredlabel.com.

TLP Press Contact: 
Larry Harvey

Waukesha County manufacturers navigate tightening job market

Business in Waukesha County
by June 12, 2017, 1:00 AM

Tailored Label employee Jason Clark prints labels at the company’s Menomonee Falls facility.

Tailored Label employee Jason Clark prints labels at the company’s Menomonee Falls facility.

If you looked only at the job figures, it would seem Waukesha County manufacturing was in a slump for much of 2016. The county’s manufacturing industry averaged a year-over-year decline in employment of more than 2.6 percent, even as private sector employment was up more than 1.5 percent on average.

The Waukesha County picture is an exaggerated version of trends visible at the state level, and more recent data suggests the industry has rebounded to begin adding jobs again. But asking why employment in an industry that makes up about 20 percent of the county’s jobs was down as much as 3 percent at one point draws a number of different answers.

For starters, manufacturing itself faced challenges last year, especially for companies in heavy industries or those tied to oil and gas. Many business leaders also point to the presidential election, suggesting uncertainty about the direction of policy leads people and companies to hold on to their money.

Don Lavrenz, president of Sussex-based control manufacturing and system integration firm The Industrial Companies Inc., said after several years of growth, his firm saw a decline last year, which he attributed to factors like the election, oil and gas weakness, and a strong dollar.

“I think it was just a culmination of circumstances that made the situation worse,” Lavrenz said.

Initial unemployment claims were up almost 2.7 percent across all industries in Waukesha County, but remained below 2014 levels. Statewide, initial claims were down 2.1 percent. There also were six mass layoff notices filed with the state totaling 571 jobs, up from three notices for 176 jobs in 2015.

Harley-Davidson Inc. and Quad/Graphics Inc., two major manufacturing employers in the county, both faced challenges from industry trends. But Harley’s Pilgrim Road plant was spared from a round of layoffs in August, and Quad’s consolidation efforts have generally brought work to Wisconsin. Quad chief executive officer Joel Quadracci has spoken often about the challenges of finding employees to fill open positions.

Lavrenz said despite the dip in sales, The Industrial Companies had its best year ever for new customer acquisition, which he said might be the result of companies struggling to find engineering staff.

An increasingly tight job market is also among the explanations for the dip in job numbers. Unemployment rates have been on a steady decline – Waukesha County was at 2.6 percent in April and has been below 4 percent since mid-2015 – and older workers are retiring, leaving companies complaining that it’s difficult to find workers. With a dwindling pool of talent available, many companies are instead turning to automation to grow their business and keep up with demand.

“The amount of automation that people are using now, compared to plant tours that I did 10 years ago, it’s just night and day,” said Tim Casey, director of economic development at the Waukesha County Center for Growth.

When the Waukesha County Business Alliance asked its Manufacturing Executive Council members for their insights, the response was that tough hiring conditions mean employment is flat or down, even as production and sales grow.

“Job growth figures aren’t always the most accurate measure of that (growth),” said Amanda Payne, vice president of public policy at WCBA. “Companies are investing in technology and finding ways to be more innovative using automation, because the labor market is so tight that there simply aren’t enough people.”

Jeri Meyers, senior regional vice president at Brookfield-based QPS Employment Group Inc., agreed the labor market is getting tighter. She said the most drastic change has been the increase in pay rates, particularly over the past year. In the past, companies looking to make themselves more attractive would increase hourly pay by a quarter per hour.

“Now what has happened is it’s jumping by a dollar,” Meyers said.

Waukesha County manufacturing wages, already some of the highest in the state, have averaged a 2.6 percent year-over-year increase since the start of 2015, compared to 0.9 percent statewide and 0.2 percent in Milwaukee County.

Meyers said QPS regularly charts where jobs are available and from where people are traveling to fill those jobs. The farther west a company is located, the harder it is to staff entry-level candidates, she said.

Finding employees may be one challenge, but keeping current employees is also increasingly important.

“Right now, it’s a candidate market where they could leave a job and find a job the next day,” she said.

Among other things, employee retention requires employers to greet employees at the start of a shift, know and use employee names, and hold cookouts or raffles for staff, Meyers said, adding it sometimes requires education to make clients understand what they have to do to retain staff.

“I’m sure there’s plenty of companies who never had meetings about how to keep people happy on the floor,” she said.

Even with higher wages and a focus on retention, some employers still find it tough to fill open positions, and Meyers agreed those companies are especially forced to turn to automation.

“People are automating in whatever instances they can,” Payne said, noting some have specialized processes that don’t lend themselves to automation, but companies will find portions of production where they can use more technology.

Brian Sprinkman, president and chief executive officer at Waukesha-based brewery tank and equipment maker W.M. Sprinkman Corp., said his company is researching automation options, but ideally wants to use a combination of technology and an increased workforce.

“Our business is growing at a pace faster than the rate at which we can find skilled manufacturing employees,” he said, noting stainless steel sanitary welding is a bit of a niche skill set. “We could afford to bring on several workers right now, if the right candidates presented themselves.”

Companies are increasingly finding they need to bring on people who lack the skills they’re looking for and use internal training to help them acquire the right skills.

“We’re more than happy to hire and train,” said Michael Graf, president of New Berlin-
based commercial printer Letterhead Press Inc.

Jeff Kerlin, president and chief executive officer at Menomonee Falls-based Tailored Label Products Inc., said his company uses that formula, looking for people who will be a cultural fit and then exposing them to a variety of job functions so both the employee and company get an idea of where the person will fit best.

“Not rocket science, but this process is actually working pretty well for us,” Kerlin said, adding openings are posted internally first and the company searches its organizational chart for opportunities to promote from within.

He said many new employees come to the company through a referral by a current employee. While the challenge of finding new employees hasn’t necessarily reduced the overall headcount at Tailored Label, Kerlin said it has delayed making desired additions.

“It continues to be a difficult proposition to grow our workforce, but that’s nothing new,” Graf said.

He said “a good share” of Letterhead’s growth over the past 15 years has come from automation.

“We’re always trying to automate more; we just have to,” Graf said.

Tailored Label has added more technology to be cost effective and offer new capabilities to customers, Kerlin said.

“As a side benefit, we’re finding that this new technology is very appealing to the younger employees,” he added, noting even those who would be considered “non-skilled” take to it “almost naturally.” “This new technology often requires far less operator ‘finesse’ than the former analog technology that takes an operator years to become fully proficient with.”

Automation and new technology don’t always mean lost jobs. Meyers said many clients find they’re able to take on more business when they automate and headcounts stay the same.

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(TLP) is a custom manufacturer of high-performance labels, tags, and die-cut adhesives. TLP provides custom engineered adhesive and label solutions for the electronics, automotive, aerospace, industrial, biomedical, medical equipment, hydraulic fluid and power industries. For more information, contact TLP at 800.727.1344 or visit www.tailoredlabel.com.

TLP Press Contact: 
Larry Harvey

TLP received 6th consecutive 2016 Best Workplace In the Americas AwardMenomonee Falls, WI12-05-2016 – Tailored Label Products of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin and Suwanee, Georgia has been awarded the designation, Best Workplace in the Americas 2016, for its exemplary human resources practices.  This marks the 6th consecutive year that Tailored Label Products has received recognition from the Printing Industries of America as a Best Workplace. PIA created the BWA awards to specifically honor printing companies that provide a superior work environment.

A panel of highly respected HR print industry professionals judged the applicants on eight criteria: Management Practices; Work Environment; Training and Development Opportunities; Financial Security; Workplace Health and Safety; Work-Life Balance; Recognition and Rewards; and Health and Wellness Programs.

Michael Makin, president and CEO of Printing Industries of America, agrees.  “Best Workplace in the Americas winners routinely recognize that success is generated in many ways, and importantly, through their employees. Congratulations to Tailored Label Products.”

For more information about the Best Workplace in the Americas Awards, contact Adriane Harrison at 412-259-1707, aharrison@printing.org or see www.printing.org/bwa.

About Tailored Label Products (TLP) 
Tailored Label Products, Inc. (TLP) is a custom manufacturer of high-performance labels, tags, and die-cut adhesives. TLP provides custom engineered adhesive and label solutions for the electronics, automotive, aerospace, industrial, biomedical, medical equipment, hydraulic fluid and power industries. For more information, contact TLP at 800.727.1344 or visit www.tailoredlabel.com.

TLP Press Contact: 
Larry Harvey

Source: Printing Industries of America.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

TLP Awarded - PIA Best of the Best Workplaces in the Americas Award

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Printing Industries of America proudly announces the recipients of the 2014 Best Workplace in the Americas Awards. A total of 28 graphic arts companies, both members through Printing Industries of America Affiliate Organizations and non-members, were selected by a committee of distinguished HR experts from within the industry. The program is designed to recognize graphic arts companies for outstanding human relations efforts which contribute to a successful workplace.

“Since 2000, the Best Workplace program has recognized industry leaders throughout the U.S. and Canada from small, medium, and large firms in the graphic arts industry for their outstanding human relations practices. While this year we felt that every company that entered the competition had HR programs worthy of great pride, the Best Workplace program recognizes outstanding accomplishment,” said Jim Kyger, Assistant. Vice President of Human Relations for Printing Industries. “The Best Workplace program stands out as one of the most stringent HR awards programs available in any industry because it analyzes key HR metrics and program documents that firms submit with their entry. Too many programs today just rely on an employee survey as the basis for their judging.”

Entries are judged on the following criteria: management practices, work environment, training and development, recognition and rewards, workplace health and safety, health and wellness, financial security, and work-life balance.

Nationally, a total of 15 companies received the coveted designation Best of the Best, honors.

Best of the Best Category

Small Companies (up to 100 employees)

Tailored Label Products, Menomonee Falls, WI

>>Read more

Press release info taken from the Printing Industries of America official press release.