Our Culture: People
We value people above all else at Sargento
People are first at Sargento. This is evidenced by our stakeholder concept of management. All those individuals who contribute to the success of Sargento are stakeholders, and we consider the impact on these people every day as we make business decisions. Stakeholders are not only stockholders, but also our employees, our customers, our suppliers, and our local communities.
There are no gray areas when it comes to ethics.
For some, ethics are like a fashion statement that can be put on or taken off to fit a certain situation. At Sargento, we live by our code of business and personal ethics 24 hours a day. It is our hope and our expectation that our employees and business associates will do the same.
You might say everything we believe in is found in the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We’ve all heard that from parents and teachers since we were children. Our company was built on this type of ethical behavior. It is the foundation of our culture, and of our success.
The Sargento code of business and personal ethics calls upon each of us to be legal, honest, moral, respectful, responsible, and fair. This is true in our relationships with our suppliers, our customers, our consumers, our co-workers, and our competitors. It is true all the time, in every circumstance just like the Golden Rule. There are no gray areas when it comes to ethics.
As a company, we choose to value ethical behavior. We choose to demand it.
At Sargento, less-than-ethical behavior will not be rewarded. In fact, it will not be tolerated. This holds true whether you’re an officer of our company or working on one of the lines. There is no three-strikes-you’re-out policy when it comes to ethical behavior. Act ethically and we want you to be part of our family. Act unethically, and we don’t. It’s that simple.
While we are a profit-oriented company, it is our expectation that these profits will never come at the expense of ethical behavior. In a world where others may try to compete by bending the lines of moral behavior, we never will. In the end, we have confidence and pride that comes from knowing the battles we win will be won fairly.
We know, too, that ultimately, our moral code and culture will be what sets us apart from our competitors. It always has, and it always will. Great products are one thing. Great people are the most important thing. We require ethical behavior because it makes us a better company and it makes us better people. Ultimately, we reap additional benefits: Our products will be better. Our customers will reward us with loyalty. Our reputation as a company with a strong moral code will be strengthened. And we will feel better about the work that we do and the people we have become.
Building a workforce of trustworthy people
When employees have trust in their fellow employees there is a basis for a good working relationship. That relationship exists at Sargento because we have a workforce of men and women who are trustworthy.
At Sargento we look for ability and skill and experience in selecting our employees. We also look for those attributes that define an individual as trustworthy honesty and integrity. Lacking in those, an employee or job applicant doesn’t fit the Sargento corporate culture.
Why is trust so important? Because when employees trust each other, they work better they’re more efficient and more productive. You need to trust that your fellow employees are capable of effectively performing their job requirements, and you rely on them to do so in a manner that will not put your physical safety at risk or hinder your ability to do your job.
Trust Must Permeate the Entire Organization
This does not suggest that trust is important only for those who lead those in managerial positions. Trust must permeate throughout the company in every department, at every level, of every location in the plant, offices, in the field with all of our stakeholders our customers, suppliers, employees, and communities, wherever we operate. And it must exist in our relationships with the media and the general public.
Do you do business with a company you don’t trust? Why should anyone buy products from us if they don’t trust us? Why should customers buy from us if they can’t trust us to meet our delivery schedules? Why should customers select our brands if we don’t provide the quality they expect? It’s all part of trust. When people believe us when they trust us they’ll buy our products. But trust is just as important, if not more so, in the Sargento workplace.
When trust exists, workers are more willing to accept new challenges and take risks. When the trust level among employees is high, employees can perform their jobs with minimal stress and anxiety because they’re confident they can rely on one another. As long as they feel they can trust their supervisors they will speak out about issues and problems that concern them.
The Sargento Commitment
Sargento has a long-standing commitment to helping our employees balance work and family that dates back to well before the topic was made front page news.
In an era when companies are pushing to “burn the midnight oil,” we encourage our employees to develop their full potential - through their families, hobbies, religious pursuit, community support, and yes, of course, their work.
Today, our culture has evolved with the times to include more “family friendly” options such as job sharing and part-time positions, summer hours, casual dress, and more. We allow departments to provide leave for employees to attend special school events and teacher conferences for their children, and have policies for personal leave. We offer tuition reimbursement and a confidential employee assistance program. In fact, Sargento received the first Family Friendly Firm award for the Sheboygan County Early Childhood Council in 1992.
Perhaps more important, however, is our pledge to you that we will not stop there. We will continue to seek out ways in which we can help our employees achieve a more satisfying balance in their lives. We will seek our own solutions and we will listen to your recommendations with an open and interested ear. When we can, we will implement your suggestions. If we can’t, we’ll try to find a compromise.
We have made a conscious commitment to place as high a value on our employees’ lives as we do on our employees’ performance. We will live by and honor that commitment for you, for us, for your families, for our community, and for Sargento.
Our Request of You: Be passionate about your faith, family, and work!
“Whatever our station in life, we will respect in others (their) virtues and strengths of character In regard to decision-making, we will strive for maximum objectivity and evenhandedness with all those whose lives we touch.”
This philosophy has been formalized through the establishment of teams at all of our locations. Through this process, employees are encouraged to assume expanded roles in helping to increase productivity and improve quality. Team members have the opportunity to become equal partners in helping to grow our business, both through increased productivity and cost savings resulting from in-depth involvement. For example, we have been able to trace more than $3.5 million in cost savings to the efforts of our teams!
When our plant was built in Kiel, we drew heavily on the knowledge and experience of our Plymouth and Elkhart Lake employees to help determine the physical layout of the plant. They also provided input in the design of the product manufacturing lines. They were instrumental in addressing quality issues and even in developing the hiring criteria for new employees. Their advice was invaluable to the successful startup of that operation.
What happened at Kiel is another example of empowering employees to be a part of the decision-making process. It’s another example of Employee Equality at Sargento.
Creativity: A Company’s Human Resource
The ability to think or act creatively goes way beyond conceiving clever ideas or even new-to-the-world products. Creative thinking helps employees assess and analyze complex situations, make decisions, solve problems, and identify and act upon potential problems and opportunities.
The creative process doesn’t always need to change the world. Sometimes it can be as simple as coming to the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they’ve been done before.
At Sargento, we are committed to fostering an environment that encourages creativity. Our suggestion boxes, team meetings, and other mechanisms have been established to allow for free flowing ideas and an open ear from management. We recognize, however, that we can always do more. We are eager to hear your suggestions. We do this, of course, not only because it will be good for you, but also because we know that it is creativity that will take Sargento from here to tomorrow.
It Takes Courage to Embrace New Ideas
We know it’s important to evaluate new concepts carefully and identify all potential missing pieces, but we ask you to strive for openness to new approaches and we pledge to do so as well.
Remember that rather than identifying what’s wrong with an idea, you will want to expend more energy in determining what is worth building on and developing imaginative ways to do so. Sometimes even a drawback in an idea, if interesting enough, can serve as a stepping-stone to a practical idea.
The odds that one idea will help solve a particular problem are not that high. But the more ideas you develop, the closer you are to finding a great one. Perhaps this is why Emile Chartier was fond of saying, “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.”
So go for it! Break free of the old ideas. Go grab your box of crayons and remember, you can use them at work as well as you can when you’re “playing” at home.
Laughter Boosts Worker Morale
It has been said that humor has the capacity to clarify the obscure, simplify the complex, deflate the pompous, and chastise the arrogant. If it can do all those things, why don’t we make greater use of it?
Many companies like Sargento have accepted that same basic premise: Fun and laughter help to boost morale among workers, build teamwork, engender creativity, and even improve one’s health.
Sargento emphatically subscribes to the notion that an atmosphere which fosters humor results in greater productivity and better performance overall. After all, we spend anywhere from one-third to one-half of our lives at work. Shouldn’t we get some enjoyment out of it? We think so, and we have always encouraged our employees to behave accordingly.
Creating an Atmosphere of Fun
We conduct numerous programs, events, and activities for our employees to create an atmosphere of fun because we recognize the value of such activities. Green Bay Packers dress-up days and plant hallway decorations for special occasions are designed to put us all in a better frame of mind, and the feedback we get from you is that you like this sort of thing and you want it to continue. We’re in total agreement.
We support and encourage this “business” of bringing fun to the workplace, not only because the employees like it that’s reason enough but also because it’s good business for Sargento.
A happy employee an employee who’s having fun doing his or her job is bound to extend that feeling of happiness to the customer, to the supplier, or to anyone with whom he/she comes in contact. It’s a contagious thing. And that’s good for Sargento. People want to do business certainly they prefer to do business with a company whose employees are pleasant and happy employees who can work and have fun at the same time.
People Must Be Totally Responsible For Their Lives
The author Sidney Madwed once wrote: “Until people fully realize that they are totally responsible for their lives, we as a society collectively will be operating under a false and distorted assumption of what responsibility (or accountability) really means.”
It is our hope at Sargento that our employees are always willing to take responsibility for their actions, that they realize we can’t succeed as a company if we look for convenient alibis to cover every misstep. We all make mistakes. In sports parlance, we call them errors in baseball, fumbles in football, turnovers in basketball. But always the game goes on and the record shows who committed the error, the fumble, or the turnover.
In business it’s not always that easy to trace the source or root of a problem. That’s where accountability comes into play. Each of us has a role to play, whether it’s on the production line, in the office, or in the field. At Sargento, we’re all part of a team and we’re all accountable - to our manager or supervisor to the company and just as importantly, to our “teammates” or fellow employees, the people we work with on a daily basis and who rely on us as we rely on them. The same can be said for your family life, interaction with neighbors, and the overall community.
It is our hope at Sargento that our employees are always willing to take responsibility for their actions that they realize we can’t succeed as a company if we look for convenient alibis to cover every misstep.