How Marvin is Boosting Worker Comforts

June 27th, 2019 by Sam Silverstein

Pass by just about any door and window company these days and chances are you’ll notice a “help needed” or “hiring” sign. Inside many of those facilities there are also indications that companies are doing more not only to lure in new workers, but to wow the ones they have—including at Marvin, where officials say they’re pressing ahead with a project to make its factories and offices more comfortable and accommodating. Improvements include overhauling lunchrooms, restrooms and breakrooms to make them more visually appealing and modifying buildings to channel natural light into areas located away from windows. But the company is also adding additional services and giving workers greater flexibility, says Christine Marvin, director of corporate strategy and design for the family-owned company.

“There’s no doubt that you have to be creative about how you think about attracting people and retaining workers,” Marvin said in an interview. “People don’t want to just show up to work to do something functional. They want something more.”

The company is planning to offer additional scheduling options to production employees at some of its factories, Marvin says. Based in Warroad, Minn., the door and window manufacturer operates 15 facilities across the U.S., through which about half of its approximately 5,500 employees participate in manufacturing.

The decision to allow workers more room for planning their work schedules follows a successful pilot over the past year involving about 25 workers in Grafton, N.D., Marvin says, where employees voluntarily worked 12-hour shifts over three consecutive days—Friday through Sunday—instead of standard days or nights. None of the participants in the test asked to leave the program, and overall feedback was positive, according to a fact sheet the company provided from its test program.

In other moves to address personal needs and work-life balance, officials say they’re installing mobile lactation facilities on factory floors—a reflection of the fact that a substantial percentage of its workers include women, Marvin says. The company also offers on-site medical clinics at several of its facilities, to prevent time off for health care services.

By stepping up the quality of on-site food preparation, offering healthier options and encouraging managers to take active steps, the company also aims to build a greater sense of community among its workers, Marvin says, whose job includes focusing on the connection between work spaces and productivity.

“We want people to be able to recharge and feel inspired,” she says. “It’s special for me to see how these gestures bring people together.”

Moves by Marvin and other companies echoe the advice offered by human resources consultants, who say that people are increasingly looking for careers at organizations that display how they care about workers as individuals.

“A company has to know its culture, and it has to pay attention to why someone would want to work there and what what’s going to keep them there,” says T.J. Bugg, executive vice president of Centennial Inc., an executive search firm in Cincinnati. “Having a strong sense of community and making people feel involved goes a long way. People will work in a more challenging environment—and even for less pay—if they don’t feel what they’re doing is just a job.”

Sam Silverstein is a contributing writer for DWM magazine.

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