SLO County Spotlights
Trust Automation, Inc.
Trust Automation, Inc. has drawn upon their experience and knowledge in power management systems, motor design, mechanical actuation, and control electronics to serve their customers for more than 30 years from their headquarters in San Luis Obispo. Today, Trust has more than 100 employees, and as their company has grown, their family-friendly practices have evolved to meet the changing needs of their workforce. Recognizing that their most important asset is their employees and that supporting employee families is in turn beneficial to the company as a whole, Trust opened an on site child care center in 2016. Since then, Trust has seen an outstanding 100% return rate amongst employees who go on family leave, overall increased productivity and retention, and improved customer experience. TA cites the steps they have taken to support their employees’ families as an important factor in their high customer satisfaction ratings and positive company outlook for the future.
“Trust Automation is understanding of the many needs of raising a family and supports finding the right work/life balance, and I truly appreciate this. The fact that I don’t have to choose one over the other makes me a better employee and a better mother, and I feel so fortunate that I am allowed to enjoy both. As my children get older and their needs change, I am grateful to work for a company that understands this and supports my role at the workplace and at home and knows that thriving employees are worth the investment.”
- Ciera Maul, Customer Service and Sales Manager, Trust Automation
Morro Bay National Estuary Program
Morro Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) works to protect and restore the Morro Bay Estuary for the wildlife and people who call the Central Coast home. In order to best meet their goals while also supporting their small team of 10 to 14 employees, MBNEP has adopted a variety of family-friendly policies. As individual team members have had various needs arise over the years, MBNEP has adjusted its policies to meet these needs and reflect a focus on family-work life balance.
To address the scheduling and child care needs of each employee, MBNEP has implemented a flexible schedule policy. MBNEP employees are able to establish their own daily work schedules to accommodate their individual family needs and are able to shift their schedules as necessary throughout the year such as when children are on school breaks/holidays. Employees are also able to take time off to care for family members as needed and may shift regular hours they may have missed to times outside of the normal work day, including weekends, rather than utilizing their accrued sick days.
While a flexible work schedule can be challenging to maintain with such a small staff, the MBNEP team has been able to meet both the demands of their families’ lives and achieve their professional goals. Over the past seven years, MBNEP has had five employees take time off for paid family leave, and all five were able to return with the use of the flexible schedule policy. By adapting to the needs of its employees and implementing family-friendly policies, MBNEP has retained skilled and committed employees who are able to perform at their best and contribute to the program’s organizational mission at a high level of quality and integrity.
“I am proud to lead an organization that values a cooperative, flexible working environment, accommodating individual needs while staying focused on our mission. Whether an employee works from home occasionally to care for a sick relative or regularly works remotely to accommodate a child care schedule, we collaborate to find solutions that support our employees and allow for effective teamwork. Living on the Central Coast is beautiful – and a challenge. I hope our support for employees helps make their lives a little easier and their commitment to our mission a little stronger.”
- Lexie Bell, Executive Director, Morro Bay National Estuary Program
Since opening in downtown San Luis Obispo in 2003, iFixit has empowered individuals to repair almost any electronic device by offering a platform for free repair manuals, and has grown to over 100 employees. As iFixit has expanded as a business, so have their family-friendly policies, especially in the past five years. Out of a desire for their employees to feel taken care of, successfully balance their work and family lives, and maintain high levels of productivity, engagement, and retention, iFixit offers salary continuation while employees are on paid family leave and/or disability. This policy allows iFixit employees to receive their full salary while on leave. Since offering their salary continuation policy, iFixit has seen an incredible 100% employee retention rate and as a result has been able to avoid the costs of employee turnover.
Morris & Garritano
Morris & Garritano Insurance has served businesses and families on the
Central Coast for over 135 years. While the company has always had a
family-friendly focus, the evolving business landscape as well as the lifestyle changes of their own team over the last few years have brought about a stronger emphasis on creating a more flexible work-life balance to support their 130+ employees and their growing families.
This exploration into different family-friendly programs and strategies resulted in some innovative workplace practices, including the implementation of a new parent “ease back to work” program. This program allows new parents to return to work part-time following their paid family leave and gradually ease back into their regular schedule as they feel comfortable. New parents also have the option to work remotely in order to better manage their commute and childcare needs. In addition to this flexible transition period, M&G’s SLO office offers new parents a dedicated Mother’s Room, equipped with two private lactation stations, a Pack N Play, changing table, diapers, and nursing supplies. Employees’ children are always welcome to visit the M&G offices where diaper drives, meal trains, and baby showers contribute to a company culture of support and care. Employees who have participated in the program report being able to adjust to their new lives as parents with greater comfort and ease while maintaining high levels of commitment to their professional lives.
Offering these programs has established a deeper sense of trust between
Morris & Garritano employees and leadership, resulting in increased
productivity and engagement as well as reduced employee turnover. Of the 22 new parents (and 29 babies) who have benefitted from the family-friendly policies over the last few years, 90% are still employed with the agency. And while the cost of establishing a remote workstation for a new parent is around $1,400, it is a significantly lower cost than that associated with employee turnover – approximately $8,000 for an Account Manager or $14,000 for a Supervisor. With these family-friendly policies in place, Morris & Garritano is actively saving time and money while improving the lives of their employees.
Desparada Wines & Herman Story Wines
When Vailia From, winemaker and owner of Desparada Wines, became a parent four years ago, she realized that she had an opportunity to shape an environment in which both the needs of employee families and her business could be supported. She set up a Pack N Play in her office and began bringing her infant to work, and when an employee had her first child three months later, she encouraged them to do the same. Desparada and Herman Story (owned by Vailia's husband, Russell From) have since established an infants-at-work policy, and they continue to develop the companies’ family-friendly practices to accommodate employees and their families as needs arise.
These practices include flexible schedules, paid family leave, remote work options, and of course welcoming children into the workplace. Desparada and Herman Story Wines now have eight babies within their work family and by welcoming them into the workplace has been able to cultivate a positive company culture of support. Employees are relieved of the stress of having to find back-up childcare when last-minute needs arise, and are able to maintain their schedules when they might otherwise have had to miss work. The result has been increased productivity, revenue, and retention, and greater happiness and job satisfaction amongst employees.
"We think being appreciated, considered, and respected makes for a happy staff member... and happy people bring happiness to the workplace, which in turns makes the best product possible.”
-Vailia From, winemaker and owner, Desparada Wines
The PG&E Diablo Canyon Power Plant located in Avila Beach has more than 1,300 employees and provides low-cost, carbon-free electricity for more than three million Northern and Central Californians. Diablo Canyon first piloted its back-up child care program in 2009 to fill a need created by the demanding and unpredictable work schedule sometimes encountered at the power plant. Childcare uncertainty was consistently noted as an employee challenge and concern, and this program provides funding and resources for employees to find a backup care provider in the case that they are called in to work at unexpected hours or to cover the unplanned unavailability of a caregiver. While this program does not address the full spectrum of childcare needs, it does address a gap that many employees have had need for. By implementing this policy and supporting employees experiencing child care uncertainty, PG&E has been able to answer the needs of its employees and as a result Diablo Canyon has become a more family-friendly workplace.
"At Diablo Canyon Power Plant, safety is our top priority and we understand that working safely extends beyond our jobs. By helping to reduce stressors in our personal lives, employees can dedicate their full focus to their work. PG&E offers a variety of programs to help support its workforce including a back-up childcare program, nursing mothers rooms, and an Employee Assistance Program which provides counseling and work/life guidance. Additionally, the company hosts special events and activities throughout the year for employees and their families."
- Kristin Zaitz, Project Manager, Diablo Canyon