“Comfort” is an interesting word that we use a lot at Cambridge.  Since we are an HVAC company, it is usually in context with making sure the people in your industrial facility are breathing fresh, tempered air, or making sure that your employees in high-bay buildings aren’t freezing in the dead of winter. There’s also “comfort” in the realm of making sure your employees know that you’ve got their backs and have a genuine interest in their personal health and professional growth.  (see blogs on Dale Carnegie Leadership Training and Stretching Your Way to Workplace Safety to generate ideas of how to boost comfort both personally and professionally).
 

Still, most companies overlook the importance of physical employee comfort, and are losing real talent and real opportunity to grow with those employees when they leave to pursue a workplace that can meet and exceed their basic requirements of a healthy working environment.
 

Not convinced? Here are four reasons that we think will back us up.
 

Safety protocol alone is reason enough.

According to OSHA – your workers have the right to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.  The OSHA website starts with a dire warning: “The quality of indoor air inside … workplaces is important not only for workers' comfort but also for their health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.” This safety protocol is actually far, far above a “comfort” suggestion – and could be downright dangerous if ignored.
 

And even though we could stop after the safety reason, here are three more reasons to consider:
 

You can’t exist without them.

Unless you are a completely automated company or self-employed, you depend on at least one employee to get your product or service sold, produced, billed, you name it. Employees know that they have employment options – especially in trade professions, where there is a serious labor shortage. Don’t doubt that even if an employee feels fairly compensated, they might still leave because of continuing discomfort in their workspace.
 


 

Continuous improvement falls apart when it’s not the priority.

Imagine a humid July day in a distribution facility, when you can’t imagine doing anything but cooling off. We spend a portion of every day identifying opportunities for lean improvement in our processes and workspaces, but even we know that these can fall by the wayside when it is just too hot or too cold.
 

They are your brand ambassadors.

Client services to your customer.

Seasoned laborers to new hires.

Any employee to the world on social media.

Your employees can and should be your biggest advocates, because they are treated right (and physical comfort plays a big role) and believe in your product or service. The opposite of these two things can destroy every sales opportunity on your books this year.

There are so many ways to make your team feel comfortable – and they deserve it, so make it a priority to figure out the right investment to provide them a workspace in which they can reach their full potential.

This blog was guest-written by Meg Brown, Director of HR at Cambridge Engineering. 

The goal was 10 applicants for each opening. In a tight labor market? There’s no question: this is the most difficult time to build engaged teams in a generation. There are so many interests competing for attention. From finding workers, to upskilling them -- how can we make sure we attract the right people in the first place? We’d have to be crazy to attempt it!   

Then call us crazy because we have supersized our recruitment pipelines and enabled historically low turnover. Through a combination of people-centric leadership and innovative recruiting/development programs, we have redefined the employer/employee relationship. 

Allow me to explain. 

Cambridge doubles production in the 3rd and 4th quarter, especially on our S-Series HTHV heaters, which naturally coincide with the colder weather. For many years we have surged with seasonal employees who spend 4-6 months working for Cambridge through our busy season. A few years ago we began hiring for cultural fit over experience, believing we can provide thorough in-house training. While that helped, we were still struggling to find talent quickly enough using staffing agencies to help bridge the gap. In 2018 with the crazy goal of 10 applicants for every opening the message was clear - we had to find a new approach to attract and retain talent.     

Enter Cambridge Unleashed. 

We realized there is real value in spending time at Cambridge - even if it is only for a short period of time. So we created Cambridge Unleashed, a new concept which allowed us to start telling our story - describing the value working here can bring to each and every one of us. This program is intended for anyone interested in learning, leading and launching their manufacturing career. 

Reading 2-Second Lean by Paul Akers is a conscious step we require for all full-time and seasonal workers. This continuous improvement methodology reinforces autonomy for each person to make their work processes, and by extension, their jobs better and easier. 2-Second Lean, though, follows each person home and extends beyond the walls of Cambridge. We hear time and again how someone recognized waste or something that bugged them at home and exclaimed “Hey, that’s a lean improvement!” Exposure and practice of this mentality is quick and effective, and can help a person make their own experiences better for their rest of their lives.

We’ve found that when our 20 “Unleashers” dove into the given opportunities they end up unlocking their potential, feeling appreciated and in control of their own workspace. Here are some real life examples:

  • Many Unleashers found courage they didn’t know they had and volunteered to emcee the morning meeting. 
  • Our team reached a company record breaking production level of 13 units a day.  
  • All 20 Unleashers jumped into our lean system making videos showing highlights of their improvements. 
  • Zero lost-time accidents through the entire busy season.

You might be wondering what happens at the end of the program? Where do these seasonal employees go after Unleashed? 

We realized quickly that if Cambridge Unleashed is a program for anyone who wants to launch their manufacturing career, then we had better figure out how to do it.  Many of our Unleashers came into Cambridge having never worked in manufacturing, and after 4-6 months with us they had learned the daily habits necessary to be a dedicated lifelong continuous improvement/lean maniac. What company wouldn’t want to hire them?!? We just had to figure out a way to tell their story. So we used video – a well loved tool often used at Cambridge. 

We created a launching process which allowed us to work with our Unleashers to determine their best next step at the end of the program.  Did they want to apply for our open positions and launch internally or did they want to look for a job somewhere else launching externally? Either way we were in it with them every step of the way. Those interested in internal launch applied for those openings, completed an interview process and were considered for any openings available. Those interested in external launch worked closely with us to create an introduction and highlight video they could use when they applied to other companies. We helped them update their resumes, adding a link to their video so any recruiter could see the amazing work they had done at Cambridge. Then to help get the word out we blasted their videos to our entire network, letting them know we had some Unleashed graduates who were seeking employment. 

All in all, we launched all 20 Unleashers into positions they are excited to have, many here at Cambridge and a few elsewhere. We smashed the goal – achieving an average of 20 applicants for each opening!   We are beyond thrilled with the results of Cambridge Unleashed. Can’t wait to do it again in 2019!

 

Bringing #GloryandDignity back to manufacturing.

It’s an aspirational concept, one that you might not associate with manufacturing. We see it every day, though, through the companies that share their stories with us when they visit our facility or our colleagues at trade events. The goal of lifting our industry to a higher standard by giving back to the community and to employees might not be intrinsic to all leaders - yet, more and more, we see shining examples of our friends in this business doing just that.

  • The Seating Matters team is generating tools and resources to save lives before and after pressure injuries through an Injury Prevention Program aimed at correct seating, training, maintenance and education of staff.
  • BCI is providing high-quality packaging solutions to their customers through a system of creating meaningful employment and skills training for 250 adults with disabilities.
  • A structure of independent and interdependent teams at Vibco allows individuals valued for their strengths to complement and grow with each other while working toward the same mission.
  • FastCap continues to share their own manufacturing improvement ideas through 2 Second Lean to inspire other organizations or to even just provide a simple solution to a problem they might be facing.

We see it every day, though some might not associate these amazing achievements with what they are ultimately doing for manufacturing. At Cambridge, we’ve found that one of the easiest ways to recognize both glory and dignity within our own organization is through celebration.

Remembering to fête the lines’ extraordinary output when we hit a 13 unit/day output (up from 8-9 units/day) while maintaining quality standards was essential. The service team is constantly praised by our contractor partners for their diligence and assistance through any issue in the field.  The engineering department’s behind-the-scenes work designing custom, yet simple, solutions for our end users deserves its own standing ovation. Each Cambridge employee embodies the dignity factor, and as a whole, they bring glory to their work, our company, and the manufacturing industry. 

Watch John’s speech from 2017 that helped us realize the #gloryanddignity mission!

This post was guest-written by our friend in lean and life, Martin Tierney, from Seating Matters in Northern Ireland. In case you missed it, you can experience the amazing things Martin and his team are doing with lean in our blog post.

 

I recently visited Cambridge engineering to learn from their awesome team following their visit to Seating Matters in Ireland. We, too, are in manufacturing and wished to visit Cambridge to learn how they’ve implemented lean, developed their culture of respect and care for their colleagues and grown a successful business as a result. 

This video only gives 5% (or less!) of the lessons I took away from visiting Cambridge. Their unique blend of hard work, creativity, respect for people, clever project management and an impressive drive for growth is something that cannot be bottled into a 5 minute clip. 

They are truly bringing glory and dignity back to manufacturing. Their people and their leadership have created something truly special.

 

This blog was guest written by Meg Brown, Director of Human Resources at Cambridge Engineering.

At Cambridge we behave with unconditional love and high expectations while demonstrating care, courage, integrity and respect.  It isn’t always easy and sometimes can seem downright confusing!  As our CEO, John Kramer Jr., often reminds us – it is a journey and not a destination.  In my role as Human Resources Director I was curious what my department could do to help clarify what unconditional love and high expectations really means. 

Enter the Dale Carnegie course. 

I was invited to take the public Dale Carnegie Course last winter.  It wasn’t long before I began to see deep personal transformation - there’s magic in the simplicity of the Carnegie principles! We picked a principle or two to work on each week, giving it a try and reporting back on our progress.  That level of accountability and experimentation lead to bursts of growth for me and my classmates.   The simple and clear Carnegie principles and system of practice and accountability were exactly what we had been seeking to help us explain unconditional love and high expectations.   It didn’t take me long to find a way to bring it to my Cambridge teammates. 

We engaged Elizabeth Haberberger from Dale Carnegie St. Louis to help us create a custom course for 28 of our managers and team members.  The course took place over 2 months ending with a phenomenal graduation experience that I will remember for the rest of my career. 

In this course I witnessed my fellow Cambridge family members take risks, push past their fears and try something new.  And you know what – they knocked it out of the park every time!  It was amazing to hear them articulate their visions for their life – their WHOLE life – not just their work life.  The level of courage and openness in the class was unlike any training course I’ve ever experienced.

I’d encourage you to learn the Carnegie principles so that you can unlock your relationships and experience explosive personal growth.

We'd also like to extend our deepest thanks to the Dean Team of Ballwin for allowing us to use their amazing conference room for our off-site training!

This blog was guest-written by Conner LaLonde, M-Series Electrician. It is adapted from his intro given as the Morning Meeting Emcee.

Imagine you are running the length of a football field while a game of professional football players are playing. That’s a pretty intense and frightening scenario, right? Players who are two or three times your size, running and charging as fast and as hard as they can, all around you. They nearly collide into you and you can hardly dodge in time. You do your best to stay out of the way in order to make it to your destination. Now imagine doing the same thing, but this time you are blindfolded. Insane, right? We know that would be dangerous and crazy to attempt, in fear of almost certain serious bodily injury. So why are people still driving their cars while blinded by distractions like eating, doing make-up, or most commonly, their phones?

The results of a survey from The American Automobile Association (AAA) says that 84% of drivers recognize that distracted driving is dangerous, however, 36% of those people surveyed admit to using their phones while driving within the month prior to the survey.

A studies have shown that drivers distracted by a phone are as cognitively impaired as a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. In other words, driving while your mind is on your device and not on the task of driving is similar to driving while intoxicated.

Composing, reading, or sending a text message or email takes your mind and eyes off the road for about five seconds. While traveling 55 miles per hour, a vehicle and its occupants cover an entire football field in about five seconds. You wouldn’t run through that football game blind, so why would you drive on the streets with your head and hands focused on anything else?

Be safe and don’t drive distracted.