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Loyalty and Longevity—What Makes Employees Stay?

By DeAnn Buser, CPS Technician, Corporate Project Services, Wenger Manufacturing, Inc.

 

I graduated from beauty school back in the 90s, and I don’t think anyone would have predicted that today I’d be content and delighted working in a corporate office role at a manufacturing company.

But it’s true. I’ve been part of the Wenger organization for 21 years, joining the Corporate Project Services division in 2017. I love my job, I love my team, and I love my company.

I never thought I’d work at the same company for as long as I’ve been here—let alone in a field not even in the same universe as where I first started. My roles have run the gamut from data entry to serving as the assistant to the plant manager. I’ve worked in IT and in roles linked to supporting safety standards. Today I create and write equipment manuals and organize team training. My husband actually also works at Wenger, and now our son as well. My mom even worked for Wenger more than 50 years ago. It’s safe to say our family is “all in.”

If you look around our organization, you’ll find many who consider themselves lifers at Wenger: More than 30 percent of Wenger headquarters employees have been with the company for 15 or more years, and 14 percent for more than 30 years.

This is unheard of nowadays when people are more likely to hop from company to company multiple times throughout their career. In 2018, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last released figures on tenure, the median number of years people stayed at one job was 4.2 years. That figure was slightly higher for manufacturing roles at 5 years, but Wenger is still far ahead of that curve.

Our team is a relatively new division within Wenger, formed in 2008 and growing steadily today. Together, our team of 10 has more than 100 years of service at Wenger.

In a time when people are prone to change jobs every few years, how is it that some companies have such higher retention rates? What is it that makes people want to stay put?

I have theories on that, and they center on work environment and leadership.

Reasons Employees Stay

Pay and benefits are important, and great companies must continually add and improve their benefits offerings and offer competitive wages and salaries to attract and retain great people. But if you ask me, those two factors are simply the minimum requirements to get people in the door. They are not what gets them to stay.

In my experience, there are six things that matter most in keeping people happy and thriving in their jobs for a long time:

  • Working for a company with strong values. It’s personally rewarding to me to work for a company that aligns with my own values and what’s most important in my world. Being a family-owned, faith-oriented business, Wenger and CPS have always emphasized strong family values. They don’t just support their individual employees; they support their employees’ whole families.

  • Knowing where you fit and where you stand. The Wenger Vision, Mission and Values are incorporated into everything we do here in CPS, so there’s never a question about where your efforts need to be focused to support the greater good of the organization. When your long-term goals and day-to-day actions align with the big picture, you feel connected to the company. It really gives you direction and purpose knowing exactly where and how your role makes a difference. 

  • Having a growth path. Our Director of CPS, Jason Lang, is very goal-oriented, and he’s very diligent with weekly 1:1 meetings and yearly reviews. Each of us is continually moving forward along a path that’s individualized for our own strengths and ambitions. We have tremendous opportunities for continuing education and new challenges to stretch and prove ourselves. The deeper your roots are, the more likely you are to grow where you’re planted. We’re fortunate to have many ways to blossom and grow.

  • Having good managers. I have been blessed with great and supportive managers throughout my tenure at Wenger and CPS. The best kind of manager is one who wants to help you grow but lets you do your job—not one that hovers over your every move. I believe the right way to lead and manage is to provide direction and structure but then stand back and let the employee soar. Of course, managers need to be engaged enough to intervene if course corrections are necessary; but, allowing their people leeway helps employees build confidence for tackling the next challenge that comes along.

  • Working with co-workers who are supportive and fun to be around. We spend so much time together as a team (more waking hours on weekdays than we do at home), so it sure helps when you enjoy each other’s company. Our group has great camaraderie—we work hard together, but we also have our fair share of fun. Our team culture is very supportive, and we all strive to build each other up whenever we can. Each week we allocate a portion of our team meeting to sharing lessons learned, which can be things we encountered that others on the team might benefit from knowing as well. All of this makes me look forward to coming back to work each day.

  • Keeping an open mind for yourself. Of course, the longer you spend with a company the greater the risk of the work becoming stale. Your company, manager and team can only do so much; a lot of the responsibility is on you to go after the opportunities presented to you. Embrace new challenges that come your way, don’t shy away from them.

I believe people are more inclined to stay loyal to a company that shows loyalty to them. The growth focus really makes ours a great environment where you can work and thrive. Throughout the twists and turns of my career here at CPS and Wenger, the emphasis on personal development has always been a driving force. It’s rewarding to know I’ll always have new challenges to tackle and a manager and team around me to help me stay on track as I go after those challenges. Maybe the future path isn’t fully set in stone, but if a pathway is sketched out in front of you and you’re persistent in pursuing it, it’s an exciting journey you’ll want to stay on for a long time.

If you’d like to connect with someone on our deep bench of experts at CPS, please reach out to our team.

Corporate Project Services, a division of Wenger Manufacturing, is a dynamic group of planning specialists backed by Wenger’s more than 80 years of process system supply to the industry. Our knowledge base and breadth of experience in extrusion processing and facilities construction is unsurpassed – and our commitment to excellence is recognized around the world.