Good times come and go, but throughout all the ups and downs we’ve always made sure to treat our employees with the same unwavering respect. The mindset is stitched into the heart of our company culture since we began in 1990 and today we’re proud to welcome four more employees into our 20 Years of Service club. Today’s induction brings the total number of people with two decades or more of experience working with us in the contract sewing industry to 21.
The feet of attracting and maintaining such a dedicated workforce is even more impressive considering some of the changes the cut and sew industry has weathered since the 20th century. A few years back, when a tidal wave of imports flooded our domestic shores causing many companies in the industry to downsize, CustomFab USA took the opposite approach and doubled-down on investing in our employees. The move positioned CustomFab USA as the premier white-label “Made in America” contract sewing company, with a ready workforce that could skillfully satisfy large orders. When the demand for skilled manufacturing jobs began to return to America, we found the bet had paid off.
So what are the most important things we’ve learned about cultivating such an awesome employee base?
ASK WHAT THEY NEED:
Like any good relationship, encouraging others to share their short and long-term hopes is a great way to understand what motivates people. Even in a recessionary market, where a crimp on resources can make it hard to offer monetary incentives, we’ve found that there are always other ways to help people out. More education, cutting-edge machines, better benefits or a change in protocol that might help an employee do a better job are all great ways to invest in your people and your company. As an added benefit, getting different points of view from your employees usually uncovers some great productivity-boosting ideas you might not have noticed.
LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY:
Listening is a skill that can be a valuable resource. Often times listening to your employees will reveal that they might be facing a challenge you can help. Perhaps they are stressed about planning for retirement and you might happen to know a good financial planner, or they’d like to help their kids through college and you can help them access scholarship programs — the point is to think outside the box. The goal is to build mutual trust, and that is something that money can’t always buy.
Don’t keep people guessing! Strive to be transparent in your communication with your team and encourage an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with, not hidden until they become a bigger issue. Solicit project feedback and offer constructive feedback in return. People that feel heard are people that feel respected, and these are the type of people that will return the favor over the long haul.
To all those amazing employees that have been with us for so long and all those currently with us that are on-track to join the 20 Year club in the future — thank you! Without your skill, CustomFab USA is just a building full of machines.