2015 Best Workplace in the Americas Awards and Key HR Metrics

A total of thirty-two graphic arts companies were recognized as recipients of the 2015 Best Workplace in the Americas awards by a committee of HR experts from the printing industry. The program is designed to recognize graphic arts companies for their outstanding human relations efforts which contribute to a successful workplace. In total, 10 companies were recognized as Best of the Best, while 22 earned Best Workplace honors.

Since 2000 the Best Workplace program has recognized industry leaders from small, medium, and large firms in the graphic arts industry for their outstanding human relations practices. While almost every company that entered this year’s competition has HR programs they should be proud of, the Best Workplace program recognizes outstanding accomplishment.

Entries are judged on the following criteria:

  • Management practices
  • Work environment
  • Training and development opportunities
  • Recognition and rewards
  • Workplace health and safety
  • Health and well-being programs
  • Financial security
  • Work-life balance

What are the keys to being a “Best Workplace” ? The judges noted that nearly every company that entered in 2015 had solid HR programs that would make a company successful, relative to their size. However, the judges looked for key programs and statistics that stood out and were above industry averages. Here are some keys practices the judges took note of in the 2015 competition.

  • Organization. In your hardcopy of supporting documentation, organize materials in the eight categories of the Best Workplace judging.
  • Supporting documents. While the employee handbook is the only required document, other supporting documents will go a long way to tell your company’s story to the judges.  However, limit the material to samples, outlines and table of contents. For example, one or two newsletters is fine. The table of contents for your Hazard Communication training is sufficient.
  • Overall Statement. If you mention a great program in your overall statement, send supporting documentation for that program, even if that program doesn’t fit into one of the eight (8) BWA categories. If something went poorly last year, mention it in your overall statement and explain what happened, or what we will see in the numbers. Then explain what you did about it and what you learned from it.  
  • Job Descriptions. Formats vary from firm to firm, but there are some basic features that the government and BWA judges look for. For example, note exempt/non-exempt status.  Not every job task can be an “essential function” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Physical and education requirements can help in your recruiting process.
  • Recognition and Rewards. Incentive plans have been proven to get the attention of employees, when designed correctly.  For example, incentive programs shouldn’t “cost” a company anything if savings are realized or revenue is increased. The more people eligible for an incentive the better. Recognition is much the same way. Informal recognition programs can be just as powerful as formal ones.  Each incentive and recognition plan should have some documentation on how it is run. 
  • Training. Hiring an employee who can walk in and run your equipment perfectly is a dream these days. Documented training and development programs will give your employees the realization that the company is interested in their career and help to increase retention. It will increase your profitability as well.
  • Turnover. A little turnover can be a good thing sometimes. However, firms should be addressing causes of voluntary turnover and taking action to reduce.
  • Safety. Ensuring that all the required OSHA-related training is done is a must.  Use your workers compensation carrier, local PIA affiliate safety consultant, or PIA national’s EHS Department to ensure your firm is covering all the requirements and know the thresholds for coverage (e.g., electrical safety, noise testing, hearing testing, first aid kits, bloodborne pathogens, etc.). Targeted safety training for your most frequent cause of injuries is a must for every firm.
  • Retirement Programs. Some type of retirement program is a must in order to attract and retain employees. A company contribution is a must these days as well. Most PIA Affiliates have a Wage and Benefit survey available for 2015. Know what the market is doing and at least match it.
  • Healthcare. Controlling health care costs is a top challenge, particularly if you’re self-insured. Aggressive wellness programs can help reduce claims and costs, and actually increase employee engagement. Consider getting covered dependents involved in your wellness programs. The local PIA Affiliate Wage and Benefit survey will note the industry trends for cost-sharing for employees. Supplemental programs can go along way too (e.g., Short and Long-Term Disability, dental, vision, FSA, HSA, HRA, etc.).
  • Work-Life Balance. Holidays, vacation, sick leave, PTO, etc., are all big issues for employees these days. The local PIA Affiliate Wage and Benefit survey will have this information for your market. Plus, a variety of employee activities that include some community interests is a must these days to be a good employer in your community.

For more information on the Best Workplace in the Americas program, visit www.printing.org/bwa or email HRQuestions@printing.org.

Best of the Best Category

Small Companies (up to 100 employees)
Syracuse Label & Surround Printing, Liverpool, NY
Vox Printing, Inc., Oklahoma City, OK

Medium-size Companies (101–250 employees)
Century Box division Gooby Industries, Methuen, MA
DISC Graphics, Inc., Hauppauge, NY
Hopkins Printing, Columbus, OH
MOSAIC, Cheverly, MD
Suttle-Straus, Inc., Waunakee, WI

Large Companies/Multi-plants (251+ employees)
American Packaging Corporation, Rochester, NY
Smyth Companies, LLC, St. Paul, MN
Weldon, Williams and Lick, Inc., Fort Smith, AR

Best Workplace Category

Small Companies (up to 100 employees)
Elk Grove Graphics, Elk Grove Village, IL
Lauterbach Group, Inc., Sussex, WI
Sundance Press, Tucson, AZ
Western Graphics, Inc., St. Paul, MN

Medium-size Companies (101–250 employees)
Boutwell, Owens & Co., Inc., Fitchburg, MA
Communicorp, Columbus, GA
CRW Graphics, Pennsauken, NJ
Midland Information Resources, Davenport, IA
Mossberg & Company, Inc., South Bend, IN
The Ovid Bell Press, Inc., Fulton, MO
Robbie Flexibles, Lenexa, KS
Royle Printing, Sun Prairie, WI
Tailored Label Products, Menomonee Falls, WI
Tap Packaging Solutions, Cleveland, OH
Think Patented, Miamisburg, OH
Thoro Packaging, Corona, CA

Large Companies and multi-plants (251+)
Flower City Printing, Inc., Rochester, NY
Hammer Packaging, Rochester, NY
Inland, La Crosse, WI
The John Roberts Company, Minneapolis, MN
Phototype Engraving, Cincinnati, OH
SmartPractice, Phoenix, AZ

2015 BWA Metric Averages

Management Practices
  Sex Harassment training?* Mgmt. Sexual Harassment Training?* Disaster Plan* Violence Plan* Job Descriptions* Performance Appraisals*
Small (2-100 employees) 83% 83% 67%




Medium (101-250) 76% 82%

88% 100%



Large (251+ & multi-plants) 100% 100% 100% 100%



All Firms 85% 88% 88% 100%



Work Environment
  Voluntary Turnover Rate Involuntary Turnover Total Turnover
Small 8.1% 6.9% 15.1%
Medium 6.2% 5.0% 11.2%
Large 6.6% 4.8% 11.4%
All Firms 6.7% 5.3% 12.0%

Training and Development
   Formal Cross Training Avg. % of Employees Cross Trained
 Small  83%  77%
 Medium  88%  70%
 Large  89%  84%
 All Firms  88%  75%

Recognition and Rewards
  % Employees Eligible for Incentive Plan % Workforce Recognized
Small 99.6% 71.8%
Medium 93.6% 76.0%
Large 88.4% 75.9%
All Firms 93.1% 75.3%

Safety and Health
  Injury/Illness Rate
Small 2.56
Medium 2.58
Large 2.48
All Firms 2.55

Health and Wellness
  Single Coverage/Medical Single Dental Single Vision Long Term Disability* Short Term Disability*
Small 100% 83% 67% 67% 67%
Medium 100% 94% 94% 100% 100%
Large 100% 100% 89% 100% 100%
All Firms 100% 94% 88% 94% 94%

Financial Security
  Offer 401(k) Average Employee Contribution
Small 100% 7.4%
Medium 100% 5.9%
Large 100% 6.7%
All Firms 100% 6.3%

Work-Life Balance
  Picnic* Child/School Leave* # of Paid Holidays
Community Activity Program*
Small 83% 67% 7.8 67%
Medium 94% 65% 9.3 94%
Large 89% 56% 9.1 78%
All Firms 91% 64% 9.0 82%

*Percent of firms that reported having such a plan/program.

Published on Monday, January 13, 2014 (updated 01/04/2016)