How is Windings Inc. dealing with COVID and how has the ESOP helped them weather these times?
Our company dealt with COVID by increasing our communication with our employees. We quickly formed a pandemic response team and regularly provided updates on processes and procedures.
As an ESOP, communication and transparency is something that was already very prevalent. Prior to COVID we held monthly all-employee company meetings to share specifics on a myriad of topics – financial results, progress towards annual initiatives, success stories, etc. Despite not being able to continue these meetings in a live environment, we continued to keep our employees informed by holding virtual town hall meetings with small groups of employees via Microsoft Teams and sending out the same information that was presented in what was once a live all-employee setting and converted it to a virtual format.
Financial results were not kept confidential and our people demonstrated their engagement by asking questions about our financial position. The engagement of our employees can, in large part, be attributed to the effect that the ESOP has on our culture. Employees recognize the significance in how their specific role contributes to the company’s success, and their job isn’t just a way to bring home a paycheck. This engagement that our people possess has only been magnified since the start of the pandemic.
Unlike our neighboring companies, we avoided layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs. We experienced interruptions in our supply chain resulting from COVID, but we were still able to produce for our customers. In addition to the challenges brought on from COVID, we have also been preparing for the consolidation of our company occupying three facilities into one. Some of our office employees have spent time on the production floor helping in whatever way they can. This mindset can be attributed to the resilience of our ESOP and the ownership culture that used an “all hands-on deck” approach.
Heather Braimbridge Cox, CEO of Windings, Inc., New Ulm, MN