Benjamin Moore & Co.
Benjamin Moore has a reputation for high quality paints, which it supports with very personalized customer service and quality management systems. Because of its family-like corporate culture, competitive salary structure and benefits, and generous community relations programs, the company is considered an employer-of-choice by employees and community leaders. Management commitment to environmental, health and safety (EHS) is equally strong, with substantive recycling and waste minimization programs.
Faced with declining sales in the late 1990s, Benjamin Moore underwent its first organizational restructuring, leading to changes in business strategy, management responsibilities, marketing and distribution channels, and the probable closure of some facilities.
In anticipation of these outcomes, including the layoff or reassignment of employees, company officials engaged SmithOBrien to conduct a Corporate Responsibility Audit during the restructuring planning process. The audit goals were to preserve the "best" of the company's culture while identifying and quantifying the financial effects of opportunities to strengthen the company's reputation and also meet new business objectives.
Quality Management Systems and Environmental, Health and Safety
The audit process coupled a review of quality systems with environmental, health and safety practices. Our recommendations included:
- Overhauling key performance indicators (KPIs) to better support continuous improvement;
- Aligning data collection and performance management with company goals;
- Modifying the TQM program to include clearly defined objectives, participation by top management, and employee training;
- Employing process mapping and computerized materials tracking system to reduce materials waste and improve manufacturing efficiency.
The company increased productivity (200-300% over three to five years) and available manufacturing capacity, thereby reducing production cycle time and operating costs.
In the midst of restructuring, the company was in a state of flux, consciously moving toward more flexible and responsive business operations. This meant changes in senior management, the creation of cross-functional teams, and more management collaboration. Given the impact on the professional lives of employees, we recommended:
- Creating an employee tracking system, including a skills database of every employee, to facilitate human resources management, ensuring equity in redefining employee roles and responsibilities, and providing employees the tools to manage their own professional development
In contrast to the company's health care policies, which at the time informally encouraged employees to reach out to one another for emotional support, we recommended:
- Adding an employee assistance program (EAP) to enable employees, who remained with the company as well as those who would be leaving, to have access to professional mental health care during this high-stress period
Despite the added cost of an EAP and the expected rise in health-care utilization, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and improved employee well-being would offset these costs within three years. A conservative scenario of a 10% reduction in absenteeism would save the company approximately $140,000, and a 10% decrease in medical costs (from greater access to mental health benefits and therefore a reduction in prolonged, stress-related illnesses) would save an additional $313,000 per year.
The audit recommendations were integrated into the strategic planning process in 1998. The company first set out to improve its diversity strategy and since then has implemented all of our recommendations."While I must admit several members of our management team expressed some initial skepticism, we are pleased to conclude that your work has been excellent and that your recommendations will be very useful to us. Your auditing process provided a breadth and thoroughness…[that has] given us a new and different way of looking at some very important areas of our business."
Chief Executive Officer