More than a job Creating a community in the workplace

For ZF employees in Mexico – ZF’s second-largest country in terms of headcount – work is more than a job. Check out how two locations incorporate family values, environmental integrity and social responsibility into their everyday routines.

Children laughing and running around, adults playing right along with them while magicians and clowns entertain groups of people in the background. It sounds like the setting of a carnival or party, but the backdrop is actually ZF’s Occupant Safety Systems facility in Reynosa, Mexico – it’s the annual Kids’ Summer Camp.

The camp, which is in its 17th year, isn’t just for an hour one afternoon over the summer. Instead the facility offers programming all day for an entire week and any child of an employee is welcome and encouraged to attend. This year, 350 children learned about the importance of seat belts, the proper way to brush their teeth and spent lunchtime with their mom or dad – not to mention the basket full of goodies they received at the end of the week.

So why is an automotive plant that produces safety technology hosting a weeklong kids’ summer camp? “To integrate our employees’ families into our big ZF family,” explains Edith Gutierrez, human resources manager at the plant. “We want them to know where mom or dad work and what they do for a living; plus, it’s fun to have them around!”

Worth the work

350 children of ZF Reyonsa’s employees enjoy a week’s worth of fun and education at the plant.

Despite all of the hard work that comes with coordinating a week’s worth of activities for 350 children, Edith insists that it’s worth all of it and more. In fact, the Kids’ Summer Camp is just one of the plant’s many initiatives that create not just a safe and happy workplace, but a welcoming and fulfilling community for employees. A convenience store with common groceries like milk, eggs and snacks sees about 1,200 employees per month purchase goods right on the campus. A private clinic and free hair salon where employees receive free haircuts are two other services offered on the grounds of the facility. The facility regularly celebrates Mother’s and Father’s Day, hosts an annual health as well as housing fair – it even has its own version of the hit television show The Voice.

“All of these services and activities make a healthy environment that creates a strong bond among all of us that work at ZF Reynosa,” Edith explains. More importantly, by offering health services, haircuts and a small grocery store onsite, ZF Reynosa is contributing to the safety of its employees, offering an alternative to the sometimes dangerous locations in the region.

This commitment to people has manifested itself in the form of low employee turnover and long careers. In fact, a handful of employees have even been with the company for 40 years. And multi-generational employees are no unique occurrence either. “We even have the third generation working in our plant – grandparents, parents and kids,” Edith shares.

Family breeds trust

ZF’s suspension technology facility in Guadalajara also views itself as more of a family than a business, a culture that ultimately impacts the work they do. “We are not only colleagues in the workplace; we are interested in each other’s personal lives, too,” explains Jaime Bañuelos, responsible for environmental health and safety at the facility. “That closeness is reflected in the work we do – when we face challenges, it is easier to organize ourselves and solve the problem because we have a deeper trust between us.”

That approach continues to pay off.

The facility took home the National Award for Automotive Quality for its BOGE line of shock absorbers, the 9th time the facility has been bestowed this honor. The award reflects the market's preference for the quality of products because the prize is not awarded by an institution, association or government, but by more than 57,300 mechanic workshops nationwide. In 2016 the more than 2,265 employees produced approximately 20 million shock absorbers and struts for passenger cars, heavy commercial vehicles and non-automotive.

Caring for the community

In addition to establishing a community-driven workplace, ZF Guadalajara is also committed to operating as an environmentally friendly one. “We never want to negatively affect our surroundings,” Jaime assures. “By being friendly to our environment, we safeguard the tranquility and health of the people who live near ZF Guadalajara and contribute to the resolution of global environmental problems.”

Recently the facility was recognized by a local environmental group as well as the Municipal Government of Ixtlahuacan de Los Membrillos for its permanent commitment to the care of the environment which resulted in several environmental benefits over the course of one year:

  • 5,116 trees saved
  • 32,142,000 liters of water saved
  • 13,292 tons of CO2 reduction
  • 12,691,959 kW electrical energy saved

ZF Guadalajara’s commitment to the environment is making a big impact on the community around them.

“As a reasonable society, we are each responsible for taking care of the only ‘house’ that we have,” Jaime declares. Jaime’s facility has also just joined an elite group of businesses that have been classified as a Socially Responsible Company, an annual award granted by the Mexican Center for philanthropy.

The facility hosts a number of initiatives that contributed to the award, including encouraging and even facilitating the donation of school supplies, trees and even blood. And it’s all for the greater good.

“It is very important for us, as a company, to care for the community,” explains Victor Sandoval, ZF Guadalajara’s plant manager. “Setting an example and permeating this culture throughout our employees and the community where we operate is our responsibility. To keep the certification is not only an objective, but an obligation since we seek to provide a better space for all people. We are working today for the future.”

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