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2014 Trends and New Ideas in Business

Strategies for Developing Skilled Workforce, Improving Healthcare Access, and Fostering Positive Work Environment

Stories Include Healthcare for $25/month to Free Tuition for Tech Students

OKLAHOMA CITY, Jan. 22, 2014 — For employees of Marian, Inc., a components manufacturer in Indianapolis, it’s not uncommon to be served lunch by their bosses. In fact, it’s a monthly occurrence, and the executives of Marian are happy to play chef. But, they don’t just serve the meals; they prepare them for their 130 employees. It’s just one part of their strategy for maintaining a positive work environment.

Express Employment Professionals, the nation’s largest privately held staffing firm, surveyed businesses and clients across the country to learn how innovative businesses are taking action to stay competitive in today’s economy, while fostering a happy and productive workforce. Today, Express released the results on the strategies and tactics the companies shared.

Businesses reported innovative ideas focused on three main goals:

  • Developing a skilled workforce
  • Improving access to healthcare
  • Fostering a positive work environment

Examples of ideas to develop a skilled workforce:

  • Wolverine Coil Spring, a metal products manufacturer in Grand Rapids, Mich., takes part in the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership with Grand Rapids Community College, which allows employees to earn their associate’s degrees and have the education paid for by their employers. The student-employee gets a quality education and in-demand credentials, and Wolverine Coil Spring gets a more skilled, and educated workforce.
  • Companies in the Rochester, N.Y., area partner with Rochester Community and Technical College, United Way, and the local Express Employment Professionals office on an internship program for welders. The program allows participants to hone their skills and then helps them find full-time work after a two-week internship. “Welders are in short supply and strong demand throughout New York and the rest of the country,” said Peter Brown, Express franchisee in Rochester, N.Y.

Examples of ideas to improve access to healthcare include:

  • ProClinic, which runs health clinics in Gulf Breeze, Milton, and Pensacola, Fla., recently launched a “Medical Membership” program. It functions much like a gym membership and gives members access to basic health services for a flat rate of $25 per month. The membership includes unlimited access to all three clinics, a free annual flu vaccine, a 10 percent discount on lab work, and unlimited visits with a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant for a $10 co-pay. The visits include basic tests, treatments, and procedures at no extra charge. While the Medical Membership is not insurance, it does provide patients basic health care – and peace of mind – at a reasonable and predictable cost of $300 per year.
  • Marian, Inc., in Indianapolis, is innovating in the health field by keeping a personal health coach onsite.

Examples of ideas to foster a positive work environment:

  • At the Tupelo, Miss., office of window blinds manufacturer Hunter Douglas, all temporary employees are included in the company’s employee appreciation events. As a result of being treated like full-time employees, many of them opt to take a full time job with the company when a position becomes available. Express franchisee Jim Goodwin reports, “We know of many of our former associates who started at Hunter Douglas as temps more than 20 years ago, who have been working there as full-time employees and have been supporting their families and communities ever since.”
  • At Marian, Inc. employees are treated to a monthly employee appreciation lunch. But it’s no ordinary lunch. The executive team cooks the food and dishes it out. “Such a gesture can make a world of difference. Bosses show appreciation for employees’ service by serving their employees,” said Mike Heffner, Express franchisee in Indianapolis.

“To stay competitive in today’s economy, businesses must be willing to think outside the box. Sometimes that means breaking with traditional business practices,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “Even though unemployment has been high, many companies can’t find the right workers – so it’s in a company’s best interest to foster a good work environment and to invest in developing a more skilled workforce.

“Rising healthcare costs are another challenge facing America’s employers and employees. Companies that can find ways to reduce those costs – either for their employees or other companies – will do well. I’m proud to see so many of our Express clients doing innovative things that strengthen their businesses as well as their local economies.”



If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Sherry Kast at (405) 717-5966.


About Robert A. Funk
Robert A. “Bob” Funk is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has 700 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than five million people to work worldwide. Funk served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and was also the Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve.

About Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated more than $2.5 billion in temporary sales and employed nearly 400,000 people in 2013, and ranks as the largest franchised staffing company and second largest privately held staffing company in the United States. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually.