Facing a worker shortage, Michigan employers are thinking outside of the box when it comes to attracting and retaining workers.
Gentex Corp., the biggest employer in Ottawa County, recently restructured its compensation program for hourly workers.
Not only has Gentex increased the starting wage to $16 an hour for second and third shifts, but for the first time, the manufacturer is offering company stock that has been traditionally reserved for salaried workers.
“Our new compensation program expands upon our philosophy of rewarding longtime service,” says Craig Piersma, Gentex’s director of marketing and corporate communications. “In addition to offering a competitive hourly rate, employees receive a quarterly bonus plus a new $5,000-$10,000 restricted stock award, based on years of service. We believe this is an unprecedented benefit totally unique in West Michigan.”
All employees benefit from growth
The company is a supplier of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and electronics to the automotive industry, dimmable aircraft windows for aviation markets, and fire protection products to the fire protection market.
A restricted stock award comprises shares of a company stock granted to an employee that can be sold on the stock market once the restriction period is over. In Gentex’s case, employees will have access to their stock after a three-year vesting period. Founded in 1974, Gentex is listed on the NASDAQ with a share trading at roughly $34.
New employees hired this calendar year will also be eligible for a $5,000 stock award after completing one year of service.
“This new program helps ensure that all Gentex employees benefit from the growth of the company,” added Piersma. “It rewards everyone for their contributions toward enhancing shareholder value.”
Assembly lines for Spanish speakers
Gentex has also taken a creative approach to welcome segments of workers that might not have considered applying for the company. The manufacturer recently established dedicated assembly lines for Spanish-speaking workers in order to increase its employment base.
What started as a single manufacturing line on third shift has grown to nearly 50 Spanish-speaking team members on multiple lines and shifts.
To support the program, Gentex developed Spanish recruiting, orientation, onboarding, and training materials, as well as specialized work instructions. Each line is managed by bilingual supervisors. The company is currently establishing ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for those employees that might be interested.
Gentex conducts open interviews for hourly workers every workday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its 58 E. Riley St. facility in Zeeland. Visit www.gentex.com
to learn more about the company.
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