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July 2006 HR Magazine: Amplifying the Worth Of Each Employee at Plantronics

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HR Magazine, July 2006

Vol. 51, No. 7

#22 Medium-Sized Company on the 2006 Best Places to Work List

Appreciating employees is a core value at 45-year-old Santa Cruz-based headset maker Plantronics Inc.; it’s one reason many employees have been with the company for decades, and why a few who left have come back.

The company’s results-driven business approach, communications knowhow and innovative spirit make it a workplace rife with career opportunities, employees say. The company’s affirming culture also is reflected in the numerous rewards it offers, including profit sharing for full-time employees, 401(k) and stock purchase plans, generous leave (three weeks vacation for new hires), and scheduling flexibility that allows associates time to enjoy the beautiful California coast.

Additional perks include up to $3,000 a year in tuition assistance, depending on an employee’s grades, on-site massages and a company sponsored cafeteria that serves locally grown, organic foods.

The company’s responsiveness to the needs of its employees goes a long way toward fostering high-level performance and loyalty.

“I’ve told Ken he’s going to have to take me out of here feet first,” says 25- year veteran Mike Erbe, director, specials, referring to President and CEO Ken Kannappan. Erbe enjoys competing in a dynamic industry at a company that has grown dramatically, and that helps keep work new and exciting. “My work is fun because it’s different every day,” he says. “There’s still a sense of exploration working here.”

Nick Eisner, product management director, says that in his 10 years with Plantronics he has been able to work on every type of product the company makes. Equally important to him, he has also been able to serve as an active single father to his two sons. “I came here looking for stability and a familyfriendly environment, and I found a comfortable, positive place to work,” Eisner says.

It’s the mix of dedication and fun that has made Plantronics a much sought-after employer since its founding in 1961. Since then, the company has moved beyond its initial focus on aviation electronics to become a leading maker of personal communications products. One of the proudest moments for the company came in 1969 when its headset carried Neil Armstrong’s historic first words from the moon: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The company’s role in promoting communications has helped make it a workplace where ideas flow and feedback is encouraged. At monthly town hall meetings, associates receive critical information, hear about new initiatives, and receive recognition for their service and successes.

While such employee communication is highly valued, it’s the company’s ethics that employees hold in highest regard.

“No one here loses sleep worried about the integrity of the company, and that starts at the top. There’s a lot of trust in how we do business,” says Don Houston, senior vice president, sales.

Through employees, the company extends its concern for others to the community and the environment. Since 1997, employees have donated 1.2 million pounds of food to a local food bank. In April, the company opened a factory in China that is the first facility in that country to be certified as meeting voluntary standards for reducing electricity and water usage.

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