HRO Today November 2014 - 58

Sustainable Workforce
Whether you are CEO or driving a forklift, your job is to
help the business succeed, " says Thorn. Southwire has an
initiative, Sounding Board, in which Thorn joins a group
of employees for lunch or dinner once a month, in order
to share thoughts, feedback, and concerns and drive
change. For example, from one Sounding Board meeting,
the company executed an installation of a new roof at a
manufacturing facility to address concerns over safety of
a team working there.
Collaboration occurs at all levels. Thorn says he has lunch
every Friday with his direct team brainstorm company
growth ideas and possible investments. This also happens
on the micro-level with daily huddles within work groups
and departments.
Providing the workforce with coaching, mentoring, and
leadership training. " At Southwire, we try to develop
our people from all different angles, " says Thorn. The
company has an internal portal, iAM, which allows
employees to seek coaching and performance feedback.
This approach encourages employee growth, and lets
them showcase their work history, goals, and aspirations.
" iAm is really about reaching out to someone for coaching
and giving empowerment, " says Edge. " We have subjectmatter
experts to turn to. " Edge also says iAm helps
eliminate any awkward conversations during annual reviews
since the portal brings a level of transparency to ongoing
employee performance.
In addition to employee mentors, Southwire believes in
core performance development and leadership training.
The company has an online learning system, Southwire
University, which is a resource that provides employees with
access to training modules. The system also tracks employee
participation. Southwire Leadership Academy is an annual
program for up-and-coming leaders. At the week-long
retreat, 20 employees participate in team-building exercises
and in discussions on company growth, among other
activities. " It really pushes our culture forward, " says Thorn.
Offering employees outlets to give back in ways that
fit them best. " We have such a diverse way that
people can give back in the community, " explains Edge.
" They can do it through their time, family, personal
organization. " Once, a new CIO joined the team, and at
the time, the staff didn't know he had a son with special
needs. Southwire had a program that gave the CIO an
opportunity to volunteer at the Special Olympics - and he
[58]
HRO TODAY MAGAZINE
| NOVEMBER 2014
Editor Debbie Bolla interviews Southwire's CEO Stu Thorn and
EVP of HR Kathleen Edge at the 2014 COMMIT!Forum.
felt empowered as a result, Edge said.
Within Southwire, there is a service group called Project
GIFT, also known as Blackshirts because of their signature
uniform, that volunteers time and resources to a variety
of community programs. What is so unique about the
Blackshirts is that the service group wasn't a bureaucraticdriven
CR initiative-it started at the employee level. A
handful of staff wanted to put on Christmas for an area in
Mississippi that was hit particular hard by Hurricane Katrina.
" The company didn't create it-employees self-organized
it, " explains Thorn. " It was so successful they wanted to
do more. I said 'sure', but I wasn't going to tell them
what to do. This is employees giving back on their own
validation. "
The Blackshirts are now 500 members strong, and have
participated in programs that deliver school supplies
to kids in need and donations for Toys for Tots, and
support other relief efforts during hurricanes Katrina,
Rita and Sandy, as well as several major storms and power
disturbances in the Midwest and Northeast.
All of Southwire's efforts take employee engagement
to the next level. The company's collaborative approach
drives its workforce to feel empowered-and an
empowered workforce is one that stays. " Collaboration
creates a real sense of glue between the organization, "
he explains. " It creates an environment where people
want to stay. "

HRO Today November 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HRO Today November 2014

HRO Today November 2014 - 1
HRO Today November 2014 - 2
HRO Today November 2014 - 3
HRO Today November 2014 - 4
HRO Today November 2014 - 5
HRO Today November 2014 - 6
HRO Today November 2014 - 7
HRO Today November 2014 - 8
HRO Today November 2014 - 9
HRO Today November 2014 - 10
HRO Today November 2014 - 11
HRO Today November 2014 - 12
HRO Today November 2014 - 13
HRO Today November 2014 - 14
HRO Today November 2014 - 15
HRO Today November 2014 - 16
HRO Today November 2014 - 17
HRO Today November 2014 - 18
HRO Today November 2014 - 19
HRO Today November 2014 - 20
HRO Today November 2014 - 21
HRO Today November 2014 - 22
HRO Today November 2014 - 23
HRO Today November 2014 - 24
HRO Today November 2014 - 25
HRO Today November 2014 - 26
HRO Today November 2014 - 27
HRO Today November 2014 - 28
HRO Today November 2014 - 29
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