1Community Literacy Summit9/17/12(History of how we started using Work Keys): Started through the wired grant in 2007. Profiled Team Leader position to determine the skill level needed to be successful in the position. Asked employees in team leader, technical and some office positions to take the three Work Keys tests(Reading for Information, Locating Information and Applied Math). Reason was to better align our training programs with their needs and that this would give us information to be able to do that. Better employee selection and matching skills required for the positions Very important that we communicate it was in no way punitive. Had approximately 200 employees. 45 employees completed some or all of the testing 31 received a National Career Readiness Certificate(NCRC). Operations management team and Human Resources discussed performance on the job and the work keys scores to see if we saw a correlation between on the job work performance and work keys scores. Surprised at the high skill level and were able to give some employees additional challenges. Majority of employees were nervous to take the test. Many hadn’t taken a test for many years. To show them they weren’t singled out, and that we too were vulnerable the owner of Butterball, Mark Peters and I also took the tests with the first group to see what it felt like. Allowed me an opportunity to much better explain to them what to expect and to better relate to their fears as I think we all have some level of anxiety when it comes to taking a test not to mention 3 hours of testing. After some testing the results acted as a confidence booster, some employees had the reaction of “Oh I’m smarter than I thought”. 2010 automated part of our production process which resulted in a reduction of 80 positions. To determine which employee positions were eliminated, we reviewed skill level. The new equipment required a different skill level as it was much more technical in nature – less manual labor. Skills necessary in the new positions included o more critical thinking skills o team work o communication skills
2 o Understanding the entire line and how adjustments to one piece of equipment affect the rest of the line and the team was now critical. o A much higher technical aptitude was required. o The product moves too fast for the human eye to visually inspect so it’s using and monitoring equipment to ensure that quality meets expectations and that we are producing perfect product every time. o More proactive, to learn how to do things on the line and watch others so their level of understanding can increase vs calling someone else to figure out and correct problems when they occur. o new position with the title of technician. o Additional requirements for a technician GED or High School Diploma Ability to read, speak and write English proficiently NCRC at the silver level or higher(Program thru Literacy Center) In 2011, the Literacy Center approached us and asked if we were interested in partnering with them on an ASCET grant. The timing of this was perfect. We also had just rolled out a new initiative to all hourly and salaried employees. We told them that we continue to believe in giving employees opportunities. However, going forward, we as an organization have to get better every year. Each employee has to improve their skills and what they contribute to the organization every year. No one can continue to simply do the same thing this year as they did last year. Each employee would be required to demonstrate that by providing information on specific training they took the previous year and what they are doing differently on the job this year than they were last year. After some discussion with the Literacy Center regarding what our needs were, they put together three sets of classes including Workplace English, Foundational Skills(Work Keys) and Employability Skills(Soft skills). Goal of classes included improving communication on the job job seeking skills preparing employees to take the Work Keys testing and to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). The goal of the Workplace English class improve the speaking, reading and writing skills of non-native English speaking employees.
3 We believed that these skills would help them to be more effective in their current position and be better positioned for promotions. Communication about the specific training offered and why employees should consider investing their personal time was key. Literacy Center helped us create the talking points o included tying the classes to our mission statement which is to Enrich Lives. o Part of that mission means that we give you opportunities to learn and improve your skills. o To get and keep a job today, all employees need to learn new skills every year so they are able to provide for themselves and their families. o Importance of Work Keys over 85% of all jobs in the US require skills in these areas. For promotion opportunities at BBF, a NCRC would be required. nationally recognized credential puts applicants at the top of many employers recruitment lists helps not only here at Butterball but with other employers as well. The Foundational skills class met weekly Workplace English classes met twice a week Employability Skills Class met once every three weeks. All classes involved online work at home or practicing skills learned during the training. Homework was a key part of the training. One of our guiding principles is to promote continuous learning and innovation. Up to them to take the first step and we challenged them to take it. Provided information about the classes at employee meetings and had some people sign up immediately. Found to get them to take that step, a lot of individual 1 to 1 communication was needed to give them encouragement and a nudge that this was a good opportunity they should not let slip by. Posted a list of companies in Kent County who prefer Work Keys certified candidates. Some employees knew employees who worked at other companies that used work keys. Became ambassadors for us by talking with other employees and validating that other companies use this also and some base your rate of pay on how you score on Work Keys. The first step was that the Literacy Center administered an assessment. Determined which class was best matched to their skill level and needs.
4 Because they were in a class with people they work with who had similar skills levels, this boosted their confidence that they could do it – learn new skills. The cost for the class was funded through the Ascet grant. Butterball paid employees at the normal rate of pay for 50% of their class time to encourage them. 120 employees 56 employees enrolled in one of the three classes. For some, attending the classes was at times difficult or impossible due to their work schedule and if they were required to work extra hours that day to meet customer expectations. Overall, the result of the training was very positive. Results that were immediately noticed by managers of those attending the training Improved job skills especially communication and speaking English on the job rather than their native language which was more comfortable. Not only did their English language skills improve as a result of the class but the class was conducted in English and their confidence level of practicing with each other during the 13 weeks spilled over to confidence in their position on the plant floor speaking English. Following the class, two of our employees on 3rd shift who previously needed translation at each employee communication meeting told us they could understand in English and didn’t need the translation anymore. This was a huge success! Another two employees went on to attend additional training of 200 hours with other programs so they could continue to improve their English skills. There is no doubt in my mind that the training conducted by the Literacy Center gave them the confidence to continue their education and training and helped to instill continuous learning in them. Publically recognize employees who are completing training and gaining a NCRC Employee meetings Posting information on the bulletin board Publishing the information in the employee news letter Butterball News Network. It’s important to recognize and reward the behaviors that you want to see more of. Other success stories from the training program include: Completed the Workplace English class applied for and was hired for a position outside of Butterball Farms Plus $2/hour, a 27% increase. hired because he was able to complete the application in English and interview in English. This was a great success for him as well as for our community.
5 Promotions Promoted from a team leader to a supervisor position. Two employees Operator I position to an Operator II position and received a 15% increase in pay Three employees were promoted to Team Leader positions and received increases of up to 52% increase in their base pay. First to Team Leader position and then to a Quality Supervisor position and received a 35% increase in compensation Back-up team leader position.(How we use now:) Use Work Keys in the hiring process and give preference to applicants who have the certification. Ask the question on our application – are you work keys certified. Advancement in the organization. Some employees thought they were too old to learn something new or to take a test, some employees didn’t think they were smart enough to take the classes offered but they found they could do it so it has increased employee confidence.(What were the challenges): Challenges we faced Holding true to our standard. o Strong performance on the job, we had supervisors who wanted to promote them and give them a pay increase prior to receiving the certification. o HR had to hold firm on this not happening so it didn’t erode the value of the certificate. o Another challenge was availability of testing though this has been resolved now.(How Work Keys is used in industry) Works keys is used in industry Establish skill level. In no way diminishes the value of a GED or High School Diploma but gives employers information on specific skill levels that are required. Used as a tool to recruit people with the right skills into positions(rather than a less formal system or just basing the decision on what an applicant tells you or how they interview). Very valuable tool that has increased success in hiring and promoting people into positions.(Personal stories): Long lasting impact of the Literacy Training at Butterball? One of our employees who attended the Workplace training class decided not to take the Work Keys test at the time but it planted the seed and he is now seeking his GED and is planning to take the Work Keys testing following that.
6 Another employee in a team leader role said Helped her do a better job by learning how to better communicate with people, How to be a better leader. One office employee shared that in the class there was a lot of discussion about how to handle difficult co-workers and difficult situations. The group had a good dialogue about how they could handle a situation like that and Jane challenged them to think about additional more effective ways they would do this as well. Another employee who attended the training Very enthusiastic to learn new skills Put himself into a more secure position to enable him to provide for himself and his growing family. Diligent about attending the classes and doing his homework Took the Work Keys tests and achieved a NCRC at the bronze level. Goal is to raise his score to a silver level Retook the Locating Information test which is the only one he is at the bronze level in He missed being at the silver level by 2 points when he retook the test Again studying so he can retake the test. Driven to achieve the silver level which was instilled by the Literacy Center – the continual drive to succeed – not giving up, but studying, retraining and trying again until you are successful. 9 employees who attended the Literacy Center training have been promoted to positions of increased responsibility. Training helped improve Employees comprehension Gave them confidence that they could continue learning. I can’t say enough about how the Literacy Center training helped moved our employees toward our organization goals and the confidence that it gave each of them and how it helped us as an organization toward our goal of each employee being a continual learner.