When an employee is ready to tackle the next steps in their life, but they need to take care of immediate questions and problems, that’s where Whitnee Smith comes in.
Whitnee is the Shared Success Employer Resource Network® Success Coach who is on-site at Gayle’s workplace, TH Plastics in Bowling Green twice a week.
“It’s been a pleasure meeting Whitnee and the ERN,” an employee at TH Plastics who wishes to remain anonymous said.
“The support of those two together means a lot to me. Whitnee has gone above and beyond for your average success coach. She has helped me with things like moral support and my resume; in fact, she created and updated one for me to help me move forward and be happy.”
Whitnee is a Lutheran Social Services of Northwestern Ohio employee who works with the ERN®, a collective of employers who purchase “shares” that give them access to the program and the success coach.
Other local employers who work with the Shared Success ERN are Rosenboom Custom Crafted Cylinders, Filling Memorial Home of Mercy, and Luther Home of Mercy.
Whitnee is a confidential resource responsible for providing on-site, face-to-face assistance and effective solutions to employees when confronted with challenges or personal problems. She provides direct advice and can serve as a connection to social services that provide swift relief.
“It basically entails a go-between in terms of companies that we service and the employees that are working there,” Whitnee said. “It helps with retention but also mediate the problems that the employees might be having that are out of their control, where they’re uncomfortable going to (human resources) or a boss to talk about it.”
The issues Whitnee helps employees with range from transportation and gas prices, housing, and general personal problems that make it hard to focus at work. The employers buy into the program because as their employees remove roadblocks to success, it makes the workplace much stronger.
Whitnee must have a foot in both worlds, between the employees and employers. The key is finding the right balance.
“Just like inflation rises 3 to 4 percent every year, I feel like life escalates at double that every year,” she said.
Employees are welcome to stop into Whitnee’s office, and sometimes employees are encouraged by managers or human resources to seek her out. Recently, Whitnee had a manager at one of her sites approach her with some issues she was having communicating a new task to employees. Whitnee recommended some ideas that worked for the manager.
“Sometimes when it comes to supervising, everyone has their own style,” Whitnee said. “I have to act as a bridge or go-between in terms of this employee might have this style of learning or they might have this issue going on. It’s a gentle suggestion, that’s what I like to call it.
“I’m unbiased, I’m on the outside looking in. I go off the facts, what they’re telling me, and I get both sides. Then we come together and I can offer a suggestion.”
Whitnee came to LSS in April, having previously worked in the non-profit sector in Toledo.
LSS Vice President Tracia Jaksetic said Whitnee’s positivity and energy bring a fresh, new dimension to the ERN Success Coach position.
“Whitnee brings a wealth of community knowledge of resources to the individuals she serves in the ERN,” Tracia said. “She balances empathy with enthusiasm for helping individuals to access available resources to overcome barriers and to help them be productive employees.”
The Employer Resource Network with LSS has shares available for employers to purchase. For more information on how to join the program, please call 419-243-9178.
“Whitnee reminds me of a cheerleader,” the TH Plastics employee said. “She encourages you and hopes for the best.
“Navigating through life or issues always requires someone who is stronger and wiser than you are at that moment. She is a very resourceful person.”