Don't be a quitter! - A discussion on company culture and employment

Don't be a quitter! - A discussion on company culture and employment

Published by Ernst Gephart on 16th Aug 2022

I have talked with friends of mine that have high stress positions in companies of various industries from manufacturing to health care to legal, etc.  They are either managers, owners, operations people or something of the like.  I make a point to always ask "what is the hardest thing about your business?"  Most people respond, "dealing with people".  It's a common response.  What's worse is that when you have negative or underperforming people around you, you lose motivation, you get less done, it sours your otherwise great attitude, and the organization generally suffers. 

A lot of people can figure out a solution to a problem, be it a shipping policy that needs changing, sourcing a new partner for a specific project, a marketing or sales avenue or program that could work for the company, etc.  But very few people can push on 100% despite people around them sometimes being negative, diversionary, or just plain quitting on them.  I have been at Griffin for a long time, and people have quit on me a lot. In the early years, I thought I was an anomaly and that nobody else in other companies were dealing with what I was dealing with.  Nope, wrong. In fact, retention rates in most organizations are miserably low.  

The below chart shows the Bureau of Labor Statistics on employee turnover the last three years by sector.  Luckily, Manufacturing (what Griffin is in) is on the lower side of turnover. Yet turnover in manufacturing in 2021 AVERAGED  39.9%! That's almost as bad as the divorce rate in America! How does Griffin compare with that?  Juicy details but after looking over HR data this morning, Griffin experienced 18% turnover in 2021. Half as bad as the average, but we can always do better!  Turnover is defined as : Every employee who left a company over the year :  including retiring, firing, and discharges. 

Employee turnover rates by industry graph (2019-2021)

You might be asking yourself, how do we fix this turnover problem so everyone at work is less grumpy?  Well, everyone has their own viewpoint on this and you shouldn't just get your info here.... wait... yeah sure, look around.  But seriously, I attribute reducing turnover to several strategies combined. 

     1.  Most Importantly - Company Culture. 
Company culture is critically important to reducing turnover.  I bring it up in every interview.  People need to be aware what type of company they are getting into.  Hiring managers, don't pull any punches!  If you are a fast paced, demanding outfit, be sure to tell people that.  If you have a relaxed atmosphere where you don't micro manage (like Griffin Armament) be sure to TELL PEOPLE THAT!  Also, tell them that reports are still important despite the lack of micro management.  Setting an applicants mindset up for the position and the company are of critical importance.  Make sure they know that you are a freedom loving company (in our case) and if you have a strong team work environment, again, tell them that.  The applicant should leave the interview thinking.... "Do i really want to work here? Those people seemed cool, but kind of weird."  Be yourself in the interview.  Give them a dose of the day to day while they are there for 30 minutes.   And by all means when they come to work with you, make good on your promises of everything you told them about.  If someone doesn't feel like they are a good fit for your culture pitch, they probably won't take the job anyway.  And if they do take the position and turn out to dislike it, at least you told them how it would be and you shouldn't be mad at yourself, the hiring team, or the training team. 
Fringe benefits. This is a benefit but more so a company culture item.  Understand what people like, activities, events, so on and so forth, and reward your core group (anyone performing) with culture benefits and team building activities.  This doesn't take a lot of money and can go a long way to people liking each other.  Remember, most people don't like each other! So we have to fix that.  The best companies are teams.   
Did I mention try to have a good attitude in everything you do?  We all have down days, but life is crappy when you have a poor attitude and it effects those around you.  Try to have fun doing whatever you're doing, even if it means turning around for a 30 second detour on the way back from the gun range to bomb through a huge rain puddle! That made my day.  I had a buddy in the army once that was laughing while he had to pick through latrine barrels of sewage to recover ordnance that some jerk dumped in there after a training lane.  There had to be 100 E4 and below thanking God they weren't voluntold for that detail.  But alas, he's a legend.  Attitude is everything.  What could he have been thinking to be so positive?  Perhaps "Thank God I have hands and arms to do this".  Who knows?  The glass is half full!

2.  Compensation and Benefits

Do the best you can.  Seriously, do the best you can.  We have been in business 17 years now and not one year has gone by where we haven't reassessed and increased our benefits. We can't make that promise forever, but we've done it for 17 years now.  Do people like working in the gun industry? Sure, some people.  But do they like that more than money and benefits?  F no! If you can afford it, make sure you are competing in the top 10-15% of local area employers.  You say you want the best people but do you really?  This is a hard reality check.  Ok and this is also a plug for Griffin.  A look at some of our benefits and why people love working here....

  • ACA Gold compliant PPO medical coverage at the areas leading hospital groups
  • Delta Dental (the largest coverage in the state with the best negotiated rates)
  • Vision insurance
  • Life insurance - at no cost to the employee
  • Aggressive vacation accrual
  • 100% 401K matching - yes, you read that right,
  • Flexible scheduling (more than 50% of our workforce sets their own hours)
  • Paid company holidays
  • Personal days - when you need a breather  
  • Overtime available but not forced! 
  • Employee bonus referral program
  • Signing bonus
  • Deep discounts on quality Griffin product
  • last but not least.... an aggressive COMPANY WIDE BONUS PROGRAM

3.   Support Employee Advancement

This is one of the favorite parts of my job, helping people grow and achieve goals and dreams.  We tell every employee that comes in the door that we will help them exceed the job they applied for if they are willing to put in the work, and as a growth company that is true!  Unfortunately like the turnover chart shows, a lot of people are just not up for the challenge.  Great companies are challenging, but with hard work comes reward.  The best things in life are often the hardest worked for and sacrificed to achieve.  For every 3 or 4 people who don't want the challenge one of them does.  Get behind that guy or gal!  Positivity rubs off. It will help you too.

How do people get advanced at companies? 

  • Be patient.  

So many people quit before the ball even gets rolling.  Even recently, we hired someone who complained that their former employer didn't trust them to operate alone. This was one of their chief complaints. My response was "you only worked there for a couple months, right?" and went on to describe how we would be no different. Trust is earned over time with consistent performance.  Allow the company to develop around you and support you with opportunity as it presents itself.  Punching the clock at an entry level job down the street every two years or less will not get you any seniority or advancement in life. Do it 4 times in the last 4 years and I'll show you resumes that end up in the trash.  Companies notice when people are "trying".  They will reward you but patience cannot be understated. 

  • Put in the work.  

Often times people want advancement, but they are also the same people who are blowing spare time uselessly and not contributing to team projects or inter-department assistance. I saw youtube on more than a couple computers today on my way in.  The company is an eco system. It has to do well as a whole for each individual to do well.  Be aware that it's not just your job you are covering.  If you see someone struggling give them a helping hand because that helps the eco system you are a part of. For the managers, trainers, and dare I say "bosses" out there, be encouraging. Don't be shitty.  When people do good things, tell them that you appreciate it.  When you have to implement corrective action, try to also be encouraging and tell the person why it's important.  It doesn't cost any more money or time to be nice.  

  • Ask for advancement

Ask for opportunities.  If you're doing this, you aren't the person who uses the line "not in my job description". Those people dead end themselves by voicing out loud that they do not want to grow as a person and contribute any more value by learning something perhaps a bit more stressful.  If I could count the amount of times someone has asked me for opportunity, I think it would end on one hand.  The reality is there is a limit of resources and opportunity at every company.  Old established companies, even big ones, sometimes don't have a lot of upward growth for newcomers due to established career people in positions.  "I'm gonna have to wait for this guy to die" has been said more than once at these companies.  But young growth companies don't have limitless abilities either.  All that being said, you will at least know the opportunities available by asking.  Don't be surprised though when the advancement in pay comes with advancement in responsibilities and stress.  We get paid to manage stress after all, every one of us. How much do you want? 

Oh also.... apply to Griffin.  We offer relocation in many cases  CLICK HERE TO APPLY