Carrot or a stick? Featured

10:03am EDT July 22, 2002

Even in this slowed-down economy, it's no secret that people are working longer hours than ever before. Overtime, especially in manufacturing facilities, is the norm, not the exception. Solon-based Kennametal Inc. is no different.

But what distinguishes Kennametal from other companies, says human resources manager Ed Boeing, is that Kennametal doesn't make overtime mandatory for its workers, and there is no pressure to work more than 40 hours a week and no penalties for those who don't.

Instead, the company holds meetings year-round to keep everyone informed about the business and its needs. "We've had a nice increase in business, and we're trying to meet our customers demands in a timely way," says Boeing.

To meet those demands, Kennametal runs three shifts a day, Monday through Friday, and sprinkles in the occasional Saturday and Sunday shifts, whenever possible.

Each week, supervisors ask employees if they plan to work overtime so they can gauge whether they'll be running machines over the weekends or extending the eight-hour shifts to 10 hours. "We encourage people to help out when they can," says Boeing. "And the employees have responded nicely."

Which leads back to the old question-which works better, the carrot or the stick? For Kennametal, it's the carrot.