Continuous Improvement and Employee Retention

Continuous Improvement and Employee Retention

Today’s Guest Blogger has a great deal of wisdom to offer us. Here’s a bit more about Don Shilling, in his own words.

Don Shilling


My background is what has helped make me so passionate about continuous improvement and employee retention. I grew up in a construction family and worked for my Dad several summers during and after high school. Then while working on my degree at North Dakota State University I was hired by a construction equipment dealership. I started in their service department part time until I finished college. Then full-time service employment for a couple of years then transitioned into sales management. During the recession of the early 1980’s myself and three other managers started General Equipment & Supplies, Inc.

First as Sales Manager and eventually as President we grew our business from one location and 20 employees to 10 locations in four states and two Canadian Provinces and over 250 employees. Along the way we developed relationships with area Technical Colleges and created a College Tuition Reimbursement Program where today we Recruit a handful of new technicians annually into that program. Our company has also developed two Department of Labor Certified Apprenticeship Programs to fill hard to find skilled positions. I am currently semi-retired as Chairman of the Board.

Training is an important element of continuous improvement and employee retention. But before we can train our employees, we must find them!

I am currently on the Workforce Development Council in our area. Congress mandates that every state have a Workforce Development Council. The Governor appoints Members and the Council should consist of at least 50% business and industry leaders.

As a Council, we first develop the list of “High Demand Jobs” in our region. After that, we advise the Governor on what programs we need to attract people to these jobs. The High Demand Jobs we all know; some vary from state to state but certainly 75% of them are skilled jobs. These careers require two years of college or trade school or less. Many are apprentice learned skill sets. Certainly all of these skilled positions require additional training annually.

What Comes Next?

We, as business leaders, must explore the information and recommendations from our local Workforce Development Council. All of us need to do our homework by engaging in a deep dive into all the programs available in our area to attract people to these High Demand Jobs. We have to support the recruitment, education and continued training of the employees we attract.

Every State has programs that support us as we fill these High Demand Jobs. These programs can include tuition reimbursement, as well as grants for On the Job Training and Job Shadows. There might be incentives for continuous improvement.

It costs money to educate and train our current employees or these future employees but finding monetary relief through available State Sponsored programs can help you to get engaged and ease that burden. The successful businesses of the future will be the ones who utilize these programs. These businesses will aggressively explore options for finding and training people.

More detail in future blogs.

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