A 2018 survey by Mercer, the world’s largest human resources consulting firm, revealed that the national turnover rate for US companies averages at 22%. Some level of turnover is always expected, but La Porte nonprofit We Connect is dedicated to finding ways to lower that percentage for companies in their community.
We Connect is an Employer Resource Network. They partner and collaborate with employers around the La Porte community to “engage, empower and retain employees.” By working directly and confidentially with employees, We Connect is able to offer assistance that an HR Department may be unable to provide. Any company, small or large, thriving or struggling, can see benefits from working with We Connect. American Renolit, one of La Porte’s leading manufacturers, is one of those companies.
“We’re extremely happy with how our partnership turned out. They’ve been a great resource for our employees,” said Melissa Gruber, Human Resources Manager for American Renolit Corporation. “I was really surprised at how vast their resources are. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of issue that they can’t tackle.”
As an Employer Resource Network, the We Connect team members serve as a hub of advice and connections for employees seeking help for just about any imaginable issue. While some turnover is caused by large and dramatic problems, in many cases, employees simply find themselves frustrated by daily annoyances often unrelated to their workplace, like their transportation situation.
“Sometimes it’s simple, where someone might not even think about carpooling,” said Jackie Dermody, co-founder and Director of We Connect. “It can be very simple things like that but it’s all over the board. While there’s HR departments, they have a lot of responsibilities and employees might not feel comfortable or don’t want to feel like a bother.”
Dermody mentioned ways in which they can work with employees.
"We assist employees with domestic violence issues by walking them through the legal procedures in place, and connecting them to resources that can potentially save their lives. I feel this is a critical resource because so many people experience domestic violence, but stay silent out of shame, fear, and lack of education on the resources available to them in the community," said Dermody.
We Connect’s Success Coaches stop by American Renolit on a weekly basis. They set up in the break room and have conversations about anything on employees’ minds. They have made calls to insurance companies to help people understand their benefits, directed people to resources to shore up skills, and provide other help that American Renolit’s HR Team is not directly equipped to provide.
“I see We Connect not only a resource for our employees, but our HR Department as well,” Gruber said. “When I can’t help an employee or provide what they need, it gives me the capability to say ‘here’s someone who can’ and feel like I’m still contributing to resolving their problem. They’re not taking over for HR, they’re our partner.”
American Renolit jumped at the chance to take part in a new project that We Connect is working on: financial literacy and advising classes. These completely voluntary workshops are designed to explore topics such as budgeting, repairing credit, and other topics that employees might not feel comfortable directly approaching their employer about.
“American Renolit has been very open with us,” Dermody said. “They really value their employees, they’re such an important community partner.”
Though all the details and conversations We Connect shares with employees are confidential, they do provide American Renolit with anonymous data about problems and results. The numbers looked good for the manufacturer, which was backed up when some excited employees approached Gruber with praise for the partnership.
“I’ve had employees come to me and say ‘We Connect solved this problem that I’ve been working on for months,’” Gruber said. “They’ve been grateful that we’ve provided this service and we’re proud to work with We Connect to offer it.”
To learn more about We Connect, visit www.weconnectworks.org.