In 1993, we faced a big challenge. A number of factors contributed to a slow down of work and less hours to go around. Layoffs weren’t an option; Rhino invests a great deal in and cares deeply about its workers. So, like so many great ideas at Rhino, the Employee Exchange was born out of an employee brainstorm session. We envisioned a program in which staff could use their unique skills at other companies while work was slow at Rhino, then return when it picked back up, with new ideas and energy.
Since then, the program has grown. Each year, as staffing needs change, employees from Rhino volunteer to work with a partner company, such as Lake Champlain Chocolates, for a short time, ranging from a few weeks to a few months. As a result, employees don’t have to worry about seasonal layoffs, and feel confident that there will be a position waiting for them when they return.
While avoiding layoffs was the primary goal of the program, it’s been beneficial for employees in unexpected ways. Josh Panton, Logistics Coordinator at Rhino, participated in an employee exchange with Lake Champlain Chocolates a few years ago, appreciated the benefits of the program right from the beginning. “It’s great to be able to keep your hours and keep working with a partner like Lake Champlain Chocolates,” he pointed out during a recent conversation. “[They] give you all the training you need, and you still receive all your Rhino benefits and pay.”