Director of Human Resources, SugarCreek
Consistent alignment of employee strengths and objectives with company expectations continues to drive growth at SugarCreek, a family-owned organization founded in Washington Court House five decades ago.
“When I started at SugarCreek 14 years ago, we had 650 people. Today we have 2,100 people,” says Howard Mintz, Director, Human Resources who was formerly the company’s national accounts manager. “When I moved into HR 6½ years ago, I spent my first three months meeting with all our teams so I could better understand exactly what they were doing and find out what they felt the objective of HR was. Then I sat down with management and department heads and asked them the same questions.”
Going through that due diligence helped mesh employee strengths with the company’s objectives, building a foundation of credibility and trust between leadership and workforce while shaping future growth strategy.
“We realized we needed a different HR information system – the systems we were using were outdated,” Mintz says. “We were doing everything manually, and we had 8 to 10 different systems talking to each other. So, my recommendation was to move to one integrated system.”
Mintz and a cross-functional team comprised of payroll, benefits, HR, legal and accounting mapped out every process they were running.
“We took those 80 criteria and added 40 where we wanted to go, and then we took those 120 requirements to various HRIS providers and asked them if they could meet 90 to 95 percent of them. We had all our stakeholders involved in the evaluation.
“One of our objectives was to establish a more efficient and effective management system that would help us grow.”
The new system also helped start the transition of the HR team members moving from an administrative team to more of a strategic business partners, and it allows employees easier access to their payroll and benefit information.
As SugarCreek looks to the future, the leadership team is focused on developing their current staff and improving SugarCreekU.
“We’re looking at developing a system to create bench strength while meeting business objectives,” Mintz says. “We’re looking at the employees we have today and the workforce we will need three years from now, and developing a plan to help get us there.”
Consistency in message and company expectations are key to the success of today’s workforce leaders, Mintz believes. They need to understand their people, their people’s needs and what motivates them. They must set job parameters, establishing the scope of employees’ decision-making.
“With that, leaders must assume some risk tolerance, so people can make decisions within the scope they have,” he says. “That’s how they learn, by leaders empowering them to make decisions and helping them learn from mistakes when they make them.”