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12 Tri-County Business Journal • July/August 2011 FOCUS HUMAN RESOURCES


Try these steps to jump start health-conscious employees by Ginny Hridel


ost workplaces aren’t designed with good health and physical activity in mind. Many desk jobs are seden- tary and take a toll on employee well-being over time. Employers who embrace health and well- ness in the workplace see results in

reduced absenteeism, fewer workers’ compensation claims, improved morale, enhanced quality of life and personal potential. Employee wellness pro- grams provide opportunities for everyone to get involved at their pace.

Start at the top An integrated approach to wellness in the

workplace begins with leadership. Not only is it important for senior-level management to create a culture of health in the workplace through poli- cies and strategies for engagement and improve- ment, but also to “walk the talk.” Leaders lead by example. If the vision and mis-

sion of good health is woven into the fabric of the organization, it becomes part of the culture. An employer who supports healthy behavior

choices, encourages involvement in healthy ac- tivities and education, and reinforces balance and well-being of employees will reap the benefits of a thriving workforce. Encouraging employees to be actively involved in their well-being is a holistic approach to wellness. Employees want more support for their physical, fi- nancial, personal and professional wellness goals.

Be a leader Self-responsibility means setting the example for yourself

and others. Walk the talk. Each employee of the organization has the chance to be a leader. Offering programs that cover a variety of activities (such as a walking program at lunchtime, nutrition education, stress management, financial planning and physical activity classes) allows everyone to participate at the level where they are comfortable. Employees represent the company within the community at large.

Remember, good health habits carry over into family, friendships, com- munity and work. Allow employees the opportunity to become a catalyst for healthy change and an example for others.

Just do it Keep the healthy people healthy. Offer those who are looking for edu-

cation and initiative to get engaged. Meet them wherever and whenever they are ready with fun, interactive programs and healthy choices that will create a lifestyle change towards healthier behaviors.


Manufacturing a helping hand

Local industry peer group provides forum for local manufacturers to discuss problems, find solutions

by Peter Strozniak I

n the back room of Seeker’s Coffee House in Mentor, mem- bers of the Lake County Man- ufacturing Roundtable sipping

on their first coffee of a new day qui- etly listen to a plant manager’s diffi- cult issue with a major customer. “Effective immediately, we are re-

quiring all of our suppliers to reduce their prices by 20 percent,” the man- ager paraphrases from the custom- er’s letter. “Those that do not reduce their prices by 20 percent will not be permitted to submit new quotes for projects.” The manager asks, “What can you

do? Do you reduce your profit margin to meet the customer’s demand? Do you look for cost savings in the prod- uct you make for the customer or in the manufacturing process? “Do you negotiate with the customer to miti- gate the price reduction demand? Or do you call the customer’s bluff?” Though there is no easy solution

to this problem, the manager is hop- ing some of his colleagues who have experienced the same problem may provide a few good ideas to prevent similar scenarios in the future.

Sharing best practices, ideas Every second Thursday of the

Ginny Hridel is product manager for Health Insur- ance and Wellness Programs at COSE and Greater Cleve- land Partnership. For more informa- tion, contact Ginny at 216-592-2263 or or visit www.cose. org/wellness.

month, members of the Lake County Manufacturing Roundtable gather at the Mentor coffee shop, where they talk about common problems and share ideas, best practices and experi- ences that may offer solutions. “It’s the cross-pollination of ideas

that creates the value for a group like ours,” says Joe Hocevar, one of the four founding members of the round- table. “We get a lot of differences of opinion and perspectives from indi- viduals.” When Hocevar lived in Michigan,

he belonged to a group made up of manufacturers that would gather in- formally once a month to discuss problems and solutions. “When I moved back to Cleveland,

I wanted to start a similar group be- cause I remembered how great it felt when I was able to help someone in the group with a dilemma. Likewise, people in the group would help me with some ideas on how to get out of some tough spots here and there,” says Hocevar, a manufacturing con- sultant based in Wickliffe. Through professional groups,

Hocevar hooked up with Bob Vin- son, Jeff Bill and Bob Capella. They formed the roundtable, which held it first meeting in 2009. There are no membership fees or other require- ments to join. Anyone who works in manufacturing is welcome to join in the discussion, offer ideas or just lis- ten. The roundtable meetings usually attract managers, supervisors, engi- neers and others who work at small and mid-size manufacturers through- out Lake and Cuyahoga counties.

Addressing critical questions The meetings usually kick off with

a critical question about a general business problem or a specific manu-

facturing challenge such as: n

things in your business? n

What keeps you up at night?

customer demands a price reduction? n

n Are you measuring the right What can you do when a major Do incentive plans really work?

ability issues? n

nWhat are your production vari- How do you manage a random

visit from federal safety inspectors? The group also covers the tech-

nical side of manufacturing. Gen- eral business topics covered include workplace safety, employee manage- ment, dealing with difficult custom- ers or time management. Sometimes the meetings feature a

guest speaker who holds expertise in a specific manufacturing topic. A few times, the group has met at manufac- turing plants.

Finding solutions At a recent meeting, a young en-

gineer for a Cleveland manufacturer was having trouble managing his day because of constant interruptions. Some of his colleagues gave him examples about how they manage their time by priotizing tasks using Stephen Covey’s time management matrix, scheduling blocks of time to perform important tasks and encour- aging employees to come up with ideas to resolve production issues. “Sometimes you find yourself

busy all day, but you didn’t really get anything done,” the engineer says. “But I think the suggestions offered here are going to help me with these issues.” At the group’s session a couple of

months ago, Bruce Yarnall, a supply chain management solutions expert, provided numerous ideas about how manufacturers can strengthen ties with profitable customers. For example, Yarnall says, many

small and mid-size manufacturers produce commodity products, which are cheap and can be made anywhere. Eventually, these manufacturers lose business because their customers find other manufacturers that can make the same for less. To overcome this prob- lem, Yarnall suggests manufacturers offer “value engineering” services to continuously improve their products, which would enhance the value of their customer’s products. “At a company I worked at, we of-

fered value engineering services for two of our customers, and they liked it so much we now have our engineers working in their plants where we are applying continuous improvement methods,” he says. “We’re a perma- nent fixture in their operations. They are not going to get rid of us.”

Motivational meetings Robert Bradley, safety coordinator

for US Endoscopy in Mentor, began attending the roundtable meetings about two months ago. “I do like going to these types of

meetings. They are motivational,” Bradley says. “It reminds you that you’re not the only one with chal- lenges. Interestingly, the meetings do have structure and, in other ways, they don’t, but the moderator does a good job of staying on topic. If you want to participate you can, or if you just want to sit back and listen that’s OK, too. It’s entirely up to you. You set the pace as to what you want to get out of the meetings.” Going forward, the Lake County

Manufacturing Roundtable wants to keep attracting more manufacturers to get involved in the group and hold more plant tours. “We’ve had some cool experienc-

es that have come from our meetings, and I’m sure there will be more cool experiences in the future,” Hocevar says.

In addition to serving as Lake County contributing editor for the Tri-County Business Journal, Peter Strozniak is a marketing communications and media consultant. Visit his website at

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