No Place For Time-Wasters

John H. McConnell, who founded Worthington Industries 44 years ago, doesn't mince words in explaining why he has long championed such employee perks as profit sharing. "I just feel that the people who make the profit for you should be able to share in it," he says during an encounter at "55," a Columbus restaurant that is one of his favorite lunch-time hangouts. "And you have to provide an incentive for employees. You can't just sit in the office and make a profit." Richard ("Jet") Walker, lead man in the annealing department at Worthington Steel in Columbus, believes the incentive is an effective one. "Profit sharing encourages teamwork," he says. "For example, if a slitter operator knows a way to keep scrap levels down, he's going to pass it on to others -- to save money." That bottom-line sort of thinking also influences the activities of the Employee Councils that have been established in each Worthington plant. The eight-to-10-member councils meet monthly and serve as a liaison between management and the plant floor, often serving as a conduit for improvement ideas. As one of their major responsibilities, the Employee Councils vote on whether or not to recommend "regular" employee status for temporary workers after they've been on the job for 90 days. "You look at their attendance record and you look at their attitude," explains Walker, who served a two-year term on his plant council. "You want a positive person -- someone who doesn't miss work or waste time. "Time is money," he adds, "and wasted time can hurt the profit sharing."

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