While everyone in the manufacturing sector and the business world is consumed with news about inflation, supply chain and the lingering pandemic, I’m concerned about something far more important – the physical and mental well-being of our employees. They are our most valuable asset and we are doing everything we can to help them and protect them.
The last two years have been unbelievably challenging for our employees and current circumstances aren’t much better.
Masks may now be optional but the risk of getting Covid remains high. While the current strain of Covid is less likely to cause serious illness, being infected is still disruptive. We provide employees with as many paid days off as they need to be healthy and safely return to work but family members may get sick or have to isolate. That presents financial and practical implications. Just think about kids and school, grocery shopping as well as getting to appointments. The constant worry about getting sick is unprecedented and takes its toll on people.
The pace of production in our plant has been intense. We are often struggling to keep up with demand, particularly as customers are challenged by off-shore suppliers. That, in turn, puts immense pressure on our staff. Every part, every component and every caster is critical. There is little to no down time. The pressure to produce and meet customer requirements is unending. It’s really hard to sustain the physical and mental effort needed to be “on” all the time. As I walk through the plant, I can see the strain on employees’ faces and it worries me.
The price of everything from gas to groceries to health and beauty supplies is rising quickly. And, as interest rates climb, housing costs are going up. To offset some of the impact, we give our employees store gift cards every other month. While that helps, a pay cheque definitely doesn’t go as far as it did a few months ago. The financial pressure on employees is dramatic.
We are slowly bringing our customer service staff back to the office. Working from home offers lots of convenience and flexibility but being isolated from fellow employees creates loneliness. It’s clear that employees crave the camaraderie of being in the office together. In the coming months, we’re hoping to have everyone back together again and to restore the family atmosphere that was a hallmark of Algood. And I am definitely looking forward to our first summer luncheon in almost three years.
While we consider capital enhancements to mitigate supply chain issues and buffet us from inflation, we know there is no greater investment we make than in our human capital – our employees. Even though I am very concerned about their physical and mental well-being, I believe that, with a little help from us, our employees will weather the storm. They just want to get back to some sense of normalcy and I couldn’t agree more.