INVESTING IN HUMAN CAPITAL — VALUABLE COMMODITIES
IT WOULD be foolish to overlook how valuable an experienced, committed and skilled set of employees is to a company. This is especially true in an industry such as the graphic arts, with its strong focus on technology, trends toward computer-based processes and a continued shortage of qualified labor.
The latter is an ongoing problem for Suttle-Straus in Waunakee, WI, admits President John Berthelsen, who adds that the lack of skilled workers in the industry has limited the company’s ability to grow and expand as rapidly as he would like.
“We have now geared ourselves much more towards identifying and hiring bright, motivated entry-level people and training them ourselves,” Berthelsen contends. “Whether they are just entering the workforce or are coming into our industry from another one, we’re having some success with this approach.”
According to Kris Haas, human resources coordinator, Suttle-Straus offers a benefits package that puts the company ahead of others in industry. Beyond providing the usual insurance coverage, Suttle-Straus adds things like flexible spending accounts, 401(k) benefits, and company-wide profit sharing plans. This year it implemented paid time off, allowing employees the freedom to use sick, vacation or personal time without specifying their plans, empowering employees to make their own decisions on how to use this benefit.
Also, in response to employees’ suggestions, Suttle-Straus made changes to its shifts, implemented a quad shift (three days on, four days off) and offers shift premiums for less desirable shifts.
Making sure employees feel appreciated is another detail that is important to the Suttle-Straus management. “We recognize employees for achieving service and craftsmanship levels,” Haas says. “We celebrate special occasions like having a record month in sales or setting production records. This has really helped us attract and retain good people.”
The printer also offers a uniform program, direct payroll deposit, group auto insurance, car dealership discounts, as well as discounts with health clubs, banks and restaurants.