‘A Part of the Team’

An employee at Consolidated Metal Products recently lost three family members in a short period of time, a tidal wave of tragedy that would overwhelm most people. When the employee returned to work, he sought out company president John Bernloehr to thank him for offering a unique employment benefit that brought some light to his darkest days:

Workforce Connection coach Kristina Johnson, who offered thoughtful words of encouragement based on personal experience.

“It meant a lot to him, and he made a point of telling me about it,” Bernloehr said.

It underscored why Consolidated Metal contracted with Workforce Connection last year, embedding Johnson with their frontline workforce one day per week to assist employees with a wide range of personal, professional and financial challenges. Johnson’s efforts should help Consolidated Metal reduce absenteeism and turnover, but there is also a less tangible benefit that management appreciates.

“We want our employees to be able to improve their lives,” Bernloehr said. “We want them to know we care.”

In that sense, Johnson has been an instant hit.

“She is easy to talk to,” Human Resources Director Gary Smith said. “A lot of times, employees feel intimidated in those situations; they are uncomfortable asking for help. She has that ability to break through it all. People respond to her.”

Bernloehr said, “She is delightful but also tough. She can be firm when she needs to. She is a part of the team. Everybody is very comfortable dealing with her.”

Consolidated Metal already offered a robust employee benefits package even before bringing in Johnson, including 401(k), an employee assistance program and loans for employees in short-term financial need. Johnson complements the loan program by offering financial coaching that helps employees address budget and credit issues at the root of their financial stress. She also connects employees to resources that can help with transportation, childcare and other personal issues that may affect their performance or attendance at work.

“Kristina has definitely made an impact,” Bernloehr said. “She has helped a number of CMP employees that have had issues. The biggest thing is that she has kept people working.”