By Debbie Bolla
âOne word defines our corporation and thatâs collaboration.â â Stu Thorn, CEO, Southwire
These words really struck me when interviewing Thorn and Southwireâs executive vice president of HR, Kathleen Edge, at the 2014 COMMIT!Forum in October. As part of the conferenceâs focus on building a sustainable workforce, our discussion centered around collaboration: between employees and peers, employees and managers,Â and Thorn and his own leadership team. Southwire encourages frequent meetings between departments and at all levelsâsometimes even with Thornâs presenceâto drive change. And feedback is taken seriously. Edge said this approach creates a feeling of empowerment across the workforce.
âCollaboration creates a real sense of glue between the organization,â Thorn explained. âIt creates an environment where people want to stay.â
But when employee attrition does occur, Edge had an interesting perspective. She used Millennials as an example. This younger group of workers is often reported for wanting to work for up to seven companies across their careers. This means a three-to-five tenure per organization. Since this attrition is inevitable, Edge urges organizations to reshape their thinking. What was the experience of the leaving employee? Would they recommend the company to their peers?
âSomeone leaving is not bad if they are touting the experience they had,â she said. âItâs bad if they leave running and didnât get what they wanted out of their relationship.â
Southwire also strives to get in front of problems before they occur. The Pulse Board initiative brings operations transparency to the workforce. In the companyâs facilities are flat-screen televisions that show real-time performance metrics. Quality, safety, and employee morale, among others, are measured on a monthly rotation. For example, for morale, Southwire polls employees on a specific questionâdo you feel engaged? Is the company friendly toward diversity? Then Southwire uses a red, yellow, or green light as an indicator of the result of the workforce feedback.
âIf things are red, itâs a collaborative discussion … of why it is happening,â said Thorn. âThen we assist (with) process to change it to green. We are using technology to create a sense of connectedness.â
To find out more about Southwireâs incredible approach to human capital management, see Sustaining Success.