WATERLOO—At Grainger, each team member is valued as an individual, says Bob Bries.
“Retaining team members starts with having a great onboarding/training plan,” explains Bries, director of the Waterloo Customer Service Center. “Upon training completion, leaders meet regularly with their team members to continue building their skills, along with assisting them with creating an individual development plan based on career interests.”
Grainger also provides customer experience representatives with robust career development opportunities, Bries adds. This clarifies what’s necessary to advance to other positions within the company.
Open communication is essential for a company of Grainger’s size. There are more than 25,000 team members worldwide, with 17 distribution centers and 282 branches in the United States alone.
Grainger stocks 1.6 million products, and 2019 sales topped $11.5 billion. Its customer base spans multiple industries, from heavy and light manufacturing to healthcare and government.
“Our culture is team-oriented, inclusive, upbeat and friendly,” says Bries. “Our team members have a great deal of pride in our company and what they do to ‘Keep the World Working.’”
This drives the workplace culture, adds Bries. Various team member committees coordinate employee-led efforts focused on service, volunteerism, community outreach and more. In 2018, Grainger contributed more than $36 million in cash and products to nonprofit organizations.
“We have several team member committees that initiate and plan activities such as National Customer Service Week and Halloween — well, really anything you can think of. We have sponsored softball teams and volleyball teams in the past for team members to enjoy each other’s company outside of work,” he explains.
Such activities strengthen efforts to assist customers. In addition, daily team huddles keep employees informed and connected.
“It’s important for our team members to be able to come to work and be themselves and help us determine better ways of supporting our customers as they are the closest ones to the customer experience,” says Bries.
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