From benefits such as flextime, compressed work schedules in the summer that enable employees to take Fridays off, tuition reimbursements, helping people with financial emergencies, and even having a workplace chaplain, the Holland Township firm strives to help workers strike the best balance possible between work and home.
Working to mesh the company’s needs with employees’ needs results in a healthier, happier, well-motivated, loyal and more productive work force, said Rich Kooiker, Fleetwood’s human resources manager.
“It’s pretty obvious. People cannot and will not separate their work life from their personal life. Things just naturally spill over,” Kooiker said. “So we believe doing the right thing is the best thing, and the things that can encourage and promote healthy lives at work and out of work will ultimately pay dividends down the road.”
For that effort, the company recently received the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual People-Friendly Work Place Award.
From a purely financial perspective, people-friendly practices result in greater productivity and customer service, as well as lower employee turnover and absenteeism rates that benefit the bottom line, Fleetwood CEO Doug Ruch said. Ethically and morally, it’s “the right thing to do,” he said.
“People just are performing to a higher degree in an environment where the company has a higher purpose,” Ruch said. “The way God worked it out, it’s the right thing to do to run a company.”
Fleetwood Group, an employee-owned maker of school furniture and electronics that employs 135 people, was chosen for the award because the company exemplifies “what businesses in West Michigan do for their employees,” said Steve Agocs, chairman of the chamber’s Healthy Workforce Committee that sponsors the award.
“They not only supply a salary, but the company helps employees develop as individuals and families,” said Agocs, of Agocs Chiropractic Health Center. “They have vision for the business and follow through with it; this includes improving their community, so it is a people friendly business for the community as well as the people who work there.”
Past winners of the People-Friendly Work Place Award include Sordal Inc., Holland Community Hospital, Johnson Controls Inc. and Progressive AE.
Many of the benefits Fleetwood Group offers are becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace today: flextime, job sharing between part-time employees, working at home, pre-tax withdrawals for health care, leave for new moms and dads, assisting with the cost of a health club membership, and so on.
Among the more unique benefits Fleetwood Group offers are a policy against scheduling production or work on Sundays, paid or unpaid time off for employees participating in mission trips, helping with a sudden financial need such as an emergency car repair or family crisis, providing up to $500 a year to workers to help them through a crisis or difficult situation, reimbursing up to $3,000 of expenses related to the adoption of a child, and a workplace chaplain who can help a person on a variety of levels including work, family, financial and spiritual matters.