In an effort to combat employee turnover, Yokohama Tire Corporation created a new work schedule for its West Point plant employees.
Prior to February, Yokohama employees would work six 12-hour day shifts, have a three-day break, and start working six 12-hour night shifts. Now, employees work two 12-hour days, are off two days and work three more 12-hour day shifts on a rotation. Rather than switching from night and day shifts every week, employees switch every eight weeks, Yokohama Senior Human Resources Manager Stacey Perusse told Columbus Rotarians Tuesday at Lion Hills Center.
“So we did an employee opinion survey last year and that was one of the things the employees really wanted to change,” Perusse said.
Along with addressing the schedule changes, Perusse said the company also has initiated an “I am Yokohama” program. Managers and supervisors provide “on-the-spot” recognition to any employees for hard work, which includes gift cards, free meals and other prizes.
Though Perusse could not give a specific number, these changes have decreased employee turnover slightly, but the West Point plant still has a flow of employee departures.
“We continuously have turnover, which I think is the nature of manufacturing,” Perusse said. “A lot of our employees have never worked in manufacturing, so this is new to them.”
Although Yokohama experiences constant turnover, Perusse said the company has created a pipeline of candidates to fill those vacancies. Perusse said the plant is currently at full capacity for employees but is always looking for new hires. The plant opened in West Point in 2015 and has increased from less than 500 employees a year ago to 660.
West Point manufactures roughly 2,000 commercial tires a day and aims to reach 3,000 in the near future. Perusse said as employees gain experience, that goal should be attainable.
“I would say about half our production operators (have been) with the company less than a year,” Perusse said. “So it does take a while to get those employees rounded up.”
A misfortune earlier this summer didn’t help employee numbers at the West Point plant either.
In July, Perusse said Yokohama began investigating fraudulent WorkKeys certificates. WorkKeys is a national assessment that measures a individual’s manufacturing skills. It is designed by the makers of the ACT college entrance exams and awards scores of bronze, silver, gold or platinum.
Yokohama’s West Point plant requires employees to have scored a silver or higher to apply for a manufacturing position. Perusse said Yokohama concluded its investigation with 19 employee terminations for those violations — including reports of employees having fraudulent WorkKeys certificates.
“We did have some employees that (were) discovered they didn’t meet the pre-employment job requirements, specifically in relation to WorkKeys,” Perusse said. “We have investigated every single employee to make sure that they have a valid test. Now (with) the ACT website you can now validate the test.”
Perusse said Yokohama offers “platinum” health benefits and competitive pay for its employees, starting at $14.50 per hour and pay raises every six months for five years.
“You can come into Yokohama with no experience, take the manufacturing basics course and work there with no issues and no problem just by learning and training on the job,” Perusse said.
With 660 employees for phase one, Yokohama does have plans for future plant expansions, but Perusse said there is not a timeline in place as of now. After all three phases are complete, Perusse said Yokohama could have up to 2,000 employees.
“We do have enough property to build two more plants, (and) that is the ultimate goal,” Perusse said. “Right now, we are in phase one, and once we get up to full production in phase one, then we will consider when we build phase 2 and phase 3.”