USG Safety, Innovation and an Engaged Workforce
When USG Corporation landed a prestigious workplace environmental health and safety award in 2016, the crystal trophy made a grand tour of company plants so employees could celebrate the accomplishment. The Robert W. Campbell Award, presented by the Natio
“We’ve always known that building great products takes great people, and we have some of the best in the industry who work in our manufacturing plants, sales teams, innovation centers and corporate headquarters,” says Brian Cook, USG Corporation’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer. “Many of our employees operate in environments that carry risk, and there is nothing more important to us than ensuring their safety.”
Through employee engagement and education, USG has achieved a losttime injury rate 17 times better than the industry average, which is no small feat for a company with 6,600 employees across 48 plants in North America.
“USG has a culture of safety worth recognizing and replicating,” says Deborah A. P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “By enabling and encouraging their employees to protect themselves and their colleagues, USG has created a more sustainable business.”
Employee Ideas Key to USG’S Success
“We are a 115- year- old manufacturer of building materials, so you might not immediately consider us as forward- thinking, but we continually look for ways to provide innovative solutions to our customers’ biggest challenges,” says Cook. He points to the $ 3 billion company’s response to the 2007– 09 recession as a stellar example of USG employees’ spirit of innovation and desire to do things better, smarter and faster for customers.
Since a significant portion of USG’S business is related to residential construction, it faced challenges when the housing bubble burst. Using what limited resources it had, the company devoted its efforts to research and development. A dedicated group of employees at the company’s innovation center outside of Chicago worked together to develop a revolutionary lightweight wallboard, its Sheetrock ® Ultralight Panels. Cook calls it “the most significant breakthrough in wallboard in years, and an incredible step forward for the industry.” Introduced in 2010, the panels have since earned numerous awards for product innovation.
USG’S ability to thrive during tough times is directly related to the company’s people-focused culture, says Cook. “While there have been ups and downs during the past century, our people have stuck with us—a direct testament to the sense of care and mutual trust we encourage at USG.”
Career Opportunities, Collegial Environment
“Whi le some companies employ safety initiatives solely to address regulations, compliance or workers’ compensation issues, safety is really at the core of who we are and how we work together," says Cook. "Our approach to safety, health and wellness demonstrates how we treat our employees, customers and communities. People like working here and enjoy who they work with. It truly is a collegial atmosphere.”
In addition to landing a place on the 2017 Forbes Best Employers list, USG earned recognition for its workplace- flexibility policies by the Sloan Institute. The company’s innovative policies and opportunities for career development help it compete for top talent. "For example, when we hire engineering graduates, they like being able to put on safety shoes and get out in the plants right away,” Cook says. “They immediately get responsibility, accountability and the opportunity to accomplish things and grow their careers from day one.”
USG employees across its 48 plants celebrate being one of the world's safest companies.