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Above And Beyond

Cross-train your staff - and watch profits soar.

Workers at Engineered Friction Materials Inc. (EFM) in Charleston, South Carolina, can increase their base pay up to 30 percent by learning how to do other jobs at the company--whether or not they ever actually perform those jobs.

Dennis A. Moniz, EFM's executive vice president, says the plan works like this: The friction materials manufacturing company makes free internal and external training resources available to workers, usually on company time. Employees who take advantage of the training and satisfactorily complete the programs that qualify them for other positions receive pay increases, even if they don't change jobs.

"Rather than forcing people to cross-train, we're looking for people who want to learn," Moniz says. "The employee initiates the action, not the other way around." About two-thirds of the eligible 65 to 75 employees have participated in the program.

The benefits to the company have far exceeded the cost of the training and additional wages. Since implementing this program just over a year ago, EFM's turnover rate has dropped from a whopping 200 percent to less than 10 percent. The average scrap (wasted materials) rate has dropped from 12 percent to 8 percent, saving the company $65,000 per year in raw materials alone.

Moniz says the company is also better equipped to handle spikes in product demand because trained employees can be moved around to meet production needs with virtually no loss in productivity and no staffing-related downtime. "It gives us extreme flexibility," Moniz says. "It's simply a case of recognizing the needs of your work force. We have people who want to learn and contribute, and we're helping them do that while they help the company increase profitability. It's a win-win situation."

Contact Source

Engineered Friction Materials Inc., fax: (843) 722-7311, efmdam@aol.com

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This article was originally published in the August 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Above And Beyond.

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