Valley Works: Focus on employees can pay off

Monday, May 21, 2012

The job numbers may be improving but it is still a very tight market. Many people are just happy to have a job.

But if you asked workers if they are happy on the job, you might be surprised by their answer.

Many company bosses say it's not easy finding good workers and even tougher to keep them.

Jim Witt, an expert on employee engagement, says it's all in the way you treat them.

Jason Wilson is a man who loves his job and loves the company where he works as a sales manager.

"I wouldn't work for any other company, the Briscoes treat us like family and I wouldn't give that up for anything," Wilson said.

The Briscoes, Jim, Leeann, Nole, and Nick, are the owners of Valley Iron, a steel distribution company they bought in 1983.

Jason is one of their 95 employees. Like many on staff, Jason started at the bottom operating a forklift. He has worked his way up to sales manager.

Wilson is loyal to this family-owned business because he says the company has a way of making each and every employee feel important.

"Here actually they know everybody's name, everybody's face and they make sure that recognize you for all that you do," Wilson said.

According to a recent survey, Wilson is in the minority when it comes to how people feel about their jobs and the companies they work for.

According to the Career Builder survey, 80 percent of employees said they were looking for a new job or would leave their current job if they could.

David Witt, a researcher and expert on employee engagement maintain that having employees who have basically quit but stayed with the company is not good for the business.

Witt was in Fresno to speak at a workshop on how employers can help their workers reach their full potential and be happy and productive on the job. More than 150 different local businesses participated.

"I would like to take away some ideas to help keep our staff interested in their jobs," Nancy Stern of Der Manouel Insurance said.

Why is that so important today?

Pridestaff, a temporary staffing agency that hosted the workshop, says its been a tough few years for workers, they have experienced lay offs, salary freezes, and have been asked to do more with less.

"It's kind of creating this environment we talked about where a lot of folks are keeping their heads down, they are not enthused, they are thankful for having a job but they are not going above or beyond," David Witt of Ken Blanchard Companies said.

Witt says managers need to have conversations with their staff on a weekly basis.

Susan Paredes, the human resources director for Valley Iron attended the workshop, and that's one of the recommendations she took away from the event.

"If we take the time to let them know they mean something to us, other than just someone who works here, that will make them more fulfilled in their job," Parades said.

Valley Iron's focus on people has paid off. Despite a down economy the company opened a second facility in Vacaville two years ago and says it's on track to do even better this year.

"Create a wonderful environment for employees and they will create a wonderful environment for customers and that will lead to bottom line results," Witt said.

Witt says most employers want their workers to go above and beyond, they want them to be innovative and creative and they want them to stay with the company.

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