Dedication to Employees Underscore Recognition and Retention

By Joe Slawek
December 18, 2008

At FONA International, we strive to cultivate a high-energy, highly-educated, safe and nurturing culture that empowers each employee to support our mission and enjoy rewards for performance and results. To help us achieve this, we make a focused effort to recognize, reward and assist our employees. Here are a few examples of our dedication to the well-being and development of our employees.

-¢ Lunch with the President: Every month the company president and CEO hosts lunch at a restaurant for employees celebrating birthdays that month. They can ask any questions they may have, hear about upcoming plans and company progress and simply get to know each other better. The president also hands out birthday presents, such as Target gift cards.
-¢ Quarterly Employee Peer Recognition: Each quarter, all employees can nominate a fellow employee for performance recognition. Employees receive recognition at a company meeting and are given a $100 American Express gift certificate.
-¢ Personnel Photos: Each employee’s photo hangs on a main wall in the building with our company mission, vision and values statements. It’s a team photo, symbolizing our group effort to achieve excellence in all we do.
-¢ Hard Hat Stickers: Production employees are required to wear hard hats. As each employee completes additional training, a special sticker is added to their hat to recognize the accomplishment.
-¢ Service Recognition: Service anniversaries are honored each year of a worker’s employment. Special recognition is given for 1, 5, 10 and 20 years. Ten-year and 20-year employees receive generous bonuses and an extra week of vacation for that year.

Social Gatherings
These events provide an opportunity for us to show our appreciation, build camaraderie and relax together away from meetings and deadlines.
-¢ Monthly Employee Meeting and Breakfast: A continental breakfast is part of our monthly all-employee meetings where birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated, special topics addressed and department updates given. The president and CEO also provides an update on the business.
-¢ Annual Employee Picnic: All families are invited to the company picnic. Employees who live some distance from our headquarters are flown in along with their families. Each employee and their children receive a gift and a raffle is held for large prizes like big screen TVs.
-¢ Hot Lunches: Each month FONA provides a free hot lunch for all employees from a local restaurant. There is no agenda or meeting for this event other than enjoying a good meal and good conversation.
-¢ Ice Cream Socials: Each month during the summer, we all take a break one afternoon to scoop up a cone or build our own sundaes.
-¢ Special Celebrations: Catered, sit-down luncheons with guest speakers and activities are held for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Feedback and Improvement
-¢ Employee Survey: We take feedback seriously, and have a third party company conduct a bi-annual employee survey to help identify areas for celebration and improvement. Unedited results are posted in a prominent location for employees to review and numerous management actions have been driven by the survey results.

Extra Benefits
-¢ FONA Loan Program: FONA offers interest-free loans to employees who suffer a hardship, which are repaid through payroll deductions.
-¢ Fitness Center: We have a fully equipped, on-site fitness center, complete with showers and towel service.

We hope all of the activities, programs and benefits we offer our employees help make FONA a place they feel connected to as part of a family. We work to build real relationships with our employees, improving their lives and the business as we pursue excellence in all we do.

Joseph James Slawek is founder, president and CEO of FONA International in Geneva, Ill. The company was an elite winner in the Recognition and Retention category for the 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work in Chicago. Founded in 1987, FONA International creates and manufactures flavors for some of the largest food, beverage and nutraceutical companies in the world.