Guident Newsletter – March 2017 – Issue 11

How do you build loyalty in your organization? 

One morning Jake came into my office.  He sat down and with a serious look on his face said, “Gary you’re going to have to fire me.”  Of course, “I asked why?”  We had just purchased the company and when you do that you get, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of the old company.  Jake was definitely part of the good.  He was a certified welder, trained in the military, and a genuinely nice guy.

He said that he would not be able to pass the drug test.  We did pre-employment drug testing but did not do it for employees who came into our company through acquisition.  We did do random drug testing and Jake was certain when his number came up he would not pass.  I asked him, “Do you want to leave the company?”  He emphatically said no, but what were his choices.   He knew that everyone was subject to the random drug testing, even the owners, so he was certain we would not make exceptions.  He was right.

But in my mind, we did have some options if Jake was willing to comply with certain rules.  We began to discuss our Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  His old company did not have such a program and he was not familiar with it.  I said if he would agree to enroll in the program and actively participate in the treatment they would recommend that I would keep him on.  The minute he failed to comply he would be gone.  Jake agreed.  I adjusted his work schedule so he would have time to go to treatment, we adjusted his work duties so he did not handle any heavy equipment, and we agreed that this would be kept confidential to the other employees.  I did tell my partner who could not believe I did not fire him on the spot.  I assured him that, “I got this” and it wouldn’t affect him in the least.  I said, “Let’s see where this goes.”

All in all, Jake got clean, stayed on with our company, participated in the random drug testing, and became one of the “leaders without stripes” on our manufacturing floor.  Anytime an employee would begin to complain about little things that they felt were unfair or didn’t like, Jake would step in and set them straight.   He even brought his brother into the company, another talented welder, and others he recruited to join our company.

At the end of the day, if I had fired Jake I would not have been able to help him help himself.  What were we about really?  Were we just another company that made stuff or were we a group of people who took care of each other and eventually became somewhat of a family?  We became an employer of choice and a great place to work as you raised your family.   Take care of your people first, profits will follow.