Investing in Your Employees' Well-Being Can Pay Dividends

Michigan contractor considers employees' personal lives in determining what training to offer

Investing in Your Employees' Well-Being Can Pay Dividends

Plummer’s Waste Group offers training to its employees that goes beyond the skills they need out in the field.

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Richard Plummer, owner of Plummer’s Waste Group in Wyoming, Michigan, is a big believer in formal classes for his 48 employees. Most are standard job training or certification programs. The company's services include septic and grease trap pumping, excavation, sewer and drain work, and waste recovery.

But the company also offers one class that’s a little outside the box, addressing employee emotional and financial well-being.

The one nonwork-related program the company offers all employees has been very popular. It’s Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, which teaches money management skills. The program requires going to a two-hour, in-person class once a week for 13 weeks. The company not only pays for it ($100 per couple), but gives the employee a $150 bonus if they complete three classes or $500 if they complete all 13. Most were anxious to go to all of them, Plummer says.

“We want them to be successful,” he adds. “And if a fellow is working in the field and he’s got people calling him looking for collection, he’s not thinking about the customer. If a guy is preoccupied, it can cost you a whole lot more than $500 — an accident in the truck or a workers' comp injury.”

Standard training includes helping new technicians get their commercial driver’s license. After getting their learner’s permit, the employee drives for a while with a licensed driver.

“When we feel they’re ready, then we will pay for them to go to a week of CDL training,” Plummer says. It’s an outlay of $3,000 for the company, but it’s been a good investment, he says. Only one employee has left after going through it.

Everyone on staff takes an online 40-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety class ($200). The employee gets setup in an office cubicle and works eight hours a day at it until passing all modules.

“It’s money well spent when you have the guys thinking about safety as part of their regular routine,” Plummer says.

They also bring in a trainer once a year to teach an eight-hour OSHA class to help employees meet certification requirements for working in confined spaces.


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