It’s easy to want to phone it in when it comes to your 9 to 5. That’s why it’s vital for companies to support their employees in ways that encourage them to find meaning in their work. Case in point: CHI Overhead Doors actually provides employees with stock options in the company, giving them a real sense of ownership when it comes to their jobs. Additionally, CHI has an ongoing partnership with Homes For Our Troops, a nonprofit that provides veterans (particularly those from 9/11) with housing. So CHI employees get their career buy-in not only from owning part of the company they work for, but also because they know their workplace supports their veteran coworkers and other vets who have served their country.
It all started back in May of this year, when about 700 CHI employees were surprised with their first dividends from company stock. Ever since private equity firm KKR purchased CHI in 2015, they have granted stock options to employees as a means of encouraging them to take pride in their work.
According to Pete Stavros, head of KKR’s industrial investments team, “the goal is to get people more bought into the mission of the company.” He noted that, while CHI has been owned by four different private equity firms, KKR is the first one to implement the employee ownership model.
“It was owned by private equity firm after private equity firm, where typically there were five to ten people who owned [company stock],” said Stavros. “Now, it’s 1,000 or so, so it’s a big departure.”
The difference in employee passion and dedication can already be seen. Truck driver routes have become more efficient, and review of the materials sourcing for the garage doors CHI creates has been revamped to save the company $3 million a year—while still maintaining high quality.
But stock options aren’t the only way CHI is engaging its employees and building buy-in. Around the same time as the first dividend payout, CHI announced that it has formed a partnership with Homes For Our Troops (HFOT), a nonprofit that builds housing for disabled veterans. CHI has brought their expertise to building these homes’ garage doors.
“On behalf of the entire CHI family, including the many veterans we are privileged to call our co-workers, we are pleased to build on our contribution to HFOT and are excited to see the future impact it will have for our nation’s veterans,” said CHI CEO Dave Bangert.
The key to employee engagement and increased company productivity, then, is to make work meaningful in a very obvious way. With the HFOT program, CHI employees can easily see how their work will impact their immediate community—and the nation as a whole. And the stock options offer a tangible signal that management wants to reward employees for their dedication.
“We believe the hard work and soul of any manufacturing company is its employees and that remarkable results can be achieved when they are treated as such,” said Stavros.