Matthew Figgie and Rick Solon: Productivity environment

Matthew Figgie, Chairman, Clark-Reliance Corp.

In today’s work environment, your employees need to understand how much they are appreciated and how important they are to business success. The right culture can create a great environment for productivity, innovation and commitment. At Clark-Reliance, we have maintained the philosophy that employees are our greatest asset, which has yielded a long-term commitment from employees, with many having life-long careers at the company.

In order to do this successfully, incorporate the following cultural building blocks:

Train employees

Make sure that you offer your employees continuing education and the opportunity to build their skill set.

Lifetime employment is difficult for any company to guarantee but you can help your employees build lifetime employable skills. In order to keep your employee’s skills sharp, it is necessary to motivate them to keep current on education, trends and opportunities. Our community is blessed with many formal academic options. A sound tuition reimbursement program for undergraduate and graduate level degrees combined with professional associations, seminars and online offerings like webinars, creates a great foundation for employee learning. Your on-boarding process for new employees should focus on these formal options as well as the on the job training that your company provides. We established Clark-Reliance University, which is a series of online interactive programs with specific courses ranging from leadership to tooling instruction. Learning and improving have to become a way of life in your company.

Continuously improve

Make technology and employee involvement a priority at your company. With all of the social media, blogs, Internet and changing technology, it is important to make sure that your employees are kept current and given the tools to stay at the forefront of technological offerings. Using technology is important to any business as not only a way of communicating, but as a way for your business to grow and to stay current both domestically and internationally. Younger employees love technology and have an interest in it, so it is wise to embrace it and build it into the everyday practice for your organization.

While technology may spawn ideas, it is important to have an open-door policy and a formal program for employees to approach upper management on ideas to improve the company. Many of our best ideas have been from employees. For example, our current recycling program was from employees. This program now recycles more than 519,000 pounds of material, which generated $79,957 that was applied back to employee activities. We have a program, IDEAS, which formally documents employee suggestions and provides feedback on implementation.

Create a charitable nature

Employees like an environment where they can make a difference. Getting a team behind a charity is a really good way to build camaraderie among employees while helping the community. Blood drives, holiday giving, sustainable programs and environmental causes are all team-building programs that help create a culture of caring and giving. Our main focus over the past two years was the National Kidney Foundation and more than 200 employees walked together and helped make the walk the fourth largest in the country. 

Reward hard work and promote a work-life balance

Showing appreciation for employees is important in employee satisfaction and retention.  Rewards can be shown in many ways: financial, simple praise, or fun programs at work.  Some examples of programs that have been successful for Clark-Reliance are bowling teams, fishing charters, corporate runs, doughnut days, a Halloween party and an outing for families at Cedar Point, but the list certainly does not end there. Any program that shows appreciation and respect for commitment will be well received.

Work-life balance is best created by promoting the “family” environment at work and demonstrating family values through your management’s actions. Working hard but having fun will help make your work environment productive and enjoyable.

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in over 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has over 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies.