9 Questions with Jim Kyger

9 Questions with Jim Kyger, Assistant Vice President, Human Relations, at Printing Industries of America and compiler of Best Practices of the 2009 Best Workplaces in the Americas

Q: These are trying times for printers and employee morale at many companies; how will Best Practices of the 2009 Best Workplaces in the Americas (BWA) help companies improve performance and satisfy employees in these trying times?
A: The BWA Best Practices book series (dating back to 2006) is a collection of great ideas.The ideas are homegrown and typically cost very little to the company at first, yet often yield great dividends. The best practices highlighted in the book are those that our BWA judges found most interesting among the entries of winning companies in the Best Workplace program. Do you want to learn (and borrow) from the best? Here’s your resource.

Q: What are some of the key new trends in human relations that this edition examines?
A: Performance management is a key area highlighted in the 2009 version of the BWA Best Practices book. For example, improvement plans, self-evaluations, new hire checklists, and employee opinion surveys stand out. Plus, management ethics and leadership training stand out.

Q: Can you speak about the importance of best practices in the workplace in this climate and how the book can help provide a means for printers to establish such practices?
A: Best practices can be defined as a proven policy/program that has a higher return on investment.If your company is seeking a greater return on investment from your workforce, then this book is a great source of ideas that has worked elsewhere.

Q: What are some of the most complicated factors companies must consider when trying to implement best practices?
A: We do not recommend that companies implement these practices on an “as-is” basis, but rather as a source of ideas tailored to your company’s goals, resources, and challenges. If this is done, then your ROI will be much higher.

Q: Can you describe some of the recent trends in best practices that are available to companies?
A: Despite the difficult economy, Best Workplace firms did not waiver in their use of incentive plans for employees. Many firms used incentive plans to keep employees focused and motivated to reduce costs. Plus, injury and illness rates declined dramatically from the year, and safety-related training edged up.

Q: In your experience, what are some of the most costly mistakes companies make when it comes to human relations practices?
A: Not taking the time to properly screen applicants and “on-board” the new hires during the first few months is the most costly mistake.Sometimes the new hire is not the right fit for the job or is not properly trained and acclimated to the company’s culture. Recruiters, HR, trainers, and first-line supervisors all have key rolls to play in the success of a new hire.If a new hire does not work out, the costs can be seen in production and repeated in recruiting and “on-boarding” costs.

Q: How can companies use the examples in the book to make changes to their programs?
A: As I mentioned before, the readers should view this publication as a source of ideas, potentially one among many, as a general guide for structuring and implementing their own programs.Implementing any of the programs in the publication without considering your company’s goals, strategies for achieving those goals, company culture, management style, financial status, etc., won’t guarantee success.

Q: What are some of the significant changes in the workplace since your last edition, and how have they affected companies?
A: Wellness newsletters stood out, and two samples are included the 2009 edition. Most firms are focusing on keeping employees healthy with news, information, and health fairs. Plus, with the difficult economy, alternative work schedules stood out as a way to address company concerns while keeping valued employees on board.

Q: What is the best piece of advice that you have received as a human relations professional?
A: Ask questions.What initially appears to be a problem is typically not the underlying issue. This helps to address the cause, not just the symptom.

Q: Any final words on Best Practices of the 2009 Best Workplaces in the Americas?
A: It was very obvious to our panel of HR-expert judges, all of whom work in the printing industry, that the winners of the 2009 BWA competition were the “employer of choice” in their local job markets. Many used their BWA designation in their advertising and recruiting.

Published on Thursday, November 4, 2010 (updated 05/29/2014)

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