Office and school furniture manufacturer, distributor, and wholesaler OFM has expanded its OFM University program, which it launched in 2012.
The initiative has evolved into the Holly Springs, NC-based company’s main vehicle for internal communications. The program allows every worker in the 36-person company to engage directly with their coworkers through lectures and small group discussions. The OFM University program is one part of the company’s Ownership Thinking program, which the company said helps build morale among employees and encourages them to be active participants in OFM’s financial success.
“A lot of times people in a business have only a vague idea of what the folks down the hall are doing all day long or things happening within the company,” said Blake Zalcberg, CEO of OFM. “The classes we offer through OFM University have not only helped everyone here learn how to work with other departments more effectively, it’s become an invaluable tool to communicate internally about anything from new products being launched to our corporate philosophy.”
A steering committee determines which courses are taught through OFM University and each class is led by an employee most familiar with the topic, such as shipping and palletizing freight, the sales process, and macroeconomic business factors including currency valuation and economic trends. There’s even a class for each of the company’s core values: pride, teamwork, trust, passion, respect, and integrity. The latest class being offered focuses on new OFM products for 2014.
“The fact that the classes are taught by your peers really makes a difference in how effectively we communicate internally,” said Zalcberg. “If you’re teaching a class, you want to make sure that you keep it interesting. And if you’re taking a class, you want to make sure that you’re paying attention.”
OFM University is part of a larger trend among businesses hoping to promote creative thinking and an entrepreneurial culture among employees, the company said.