Communication pays dividends

December 29th, 2003 by Julie Ferguson

From Wisconsin, land of many lakes, come three refreshing case histories depicting the many benefits that can accrue when employers heighten communication with employees. The unifying theme? “Aggressively listening to employees pays huge dividends.”

At a local corrugated box plant of the Weyerhaeuser Company, an employee-based safety campaign reduced accidents involving lost work time from 20 in 1999 to none in 2002, and only one in the past year. The company implemented the Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program with members of Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Union (PACE). This is an excellent example of how unions and management should be sitting on the same side of the table when it comes to worker safety.

The two other examples in the article aren’t directly related to workers comp, but are instructive nonetheless. An employee-based redesign of production process flow reduced in-plant idle inventory to the point where a furniture manufacturer could eliminate a warehouse and save more than $150,000 annually; employee-based innovations at a health network enhanced patient service, improved patient care, added employee benefits, and significantly reduced employee turnover.

We’ve seen the collective power of employee ownership many times in our travels. Are you listening hard enough to your employees? If not, it might be a good time for some New Year’s resolutions.