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Workforce recruitment and retention is critical to the success of any business. The November-December 2017 edition of PalletCentral provided insights from our industry thought leaders on the topic. Let's continue the conversation...

 

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Top tags: labor  automation  workforce  immigration  training  retention  compensation  labor pool  millennials  personnel  recruitment  Canada  competition  competitive benefits  culture  demographics  employee  europe  machinery  market  robotics  shortages  skilled labor  trade schools 

Labor in Canada

Posted By Jason Wheeler, Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

In Quebec, finding labor has become very difficult. Government stats are saying the most difficult time to find labor is going to last for the next 4-5 years, and then becoming easier. I just don’t see it improving.

Our company [Herwood, Inc.] offers good benefits to our employees i.e. heath insurance, pension, and competitive pay. These benefits help retain good employees, and attract those with family obligations.

There is a lack of applications due to the high employment rate in our region. I think industry should consider building a pallet shop school, where we could train and certify employees for the industry. It may generate interest in younger individuals, and provide laborers for companies looking to fill jobs.

Tags:  Canada  labor  retention  training  workforce 

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Labor Challenges, More Automation

Posted By Debra Berry, Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Finding and keeping good employees is a challenge in any field, but finding new employees that can work well with a team is even harder. A good resource is always your current employees. They know other people and would most likely only recommend someone that would be a good fit. A retention bonus offered to current employees who bring in others who stay for a period of time could help with recruitment. Additional sources to tap are community groups, community colleges, high school vocational programs (work/study), religious affiliations and immigrant centers.

Fair compensation is another issue. We tend to look only at volatile wood pallet prices as a factor of estimating and not at the cost of employees themselves. As an industry, we should widen our scope to look at employee compensation and adjust accordingly so it can be a true living wage. However, money is not the only contributing factor when considering job satisfaction. Health care benefits rank at the top of the list; something that is becoming increasingly difficult to provide. Creating a community in the workplace where employees feel valued and integral to the business’s success strengthens the foundation of any business.

I believe that 5 or 10 years down the road, as the pallet making process becomes more automated, the job will become less laborious, less taxing and therefore more desirable, making it easier to recruit new employees. 

Tags:  automation  compensation  labor  workforce 

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Finding Skilled Labor

Posted By Sukhi Brar, Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The ongoing challenge in our area is finding skilled employees. The real estate market has been soaring in the past few years, which has placed Vancouver as one of the most expensive cities to live in. The high costs are forcing people to find affordable housing far from the city, or locating to new urban areas where the cost of living is lower.

To combat these challenges, we looked at ways to enhance our recruiting process. The first thing we examined was our pay structure. It’s essential to ensure that our wages reflect the increases in the cost of living to maintain our current employees, and to attract new ones. We also have started working with local organizations that help find employment for new immigrants. Often language barriers exist when hiring an employee that is new to the country, so we bring in translators throughout the training process to ensure the employee is familiar with the job, and with safety. The most successful recruiting tool we have is our employees. They can be the best people to promote the company to their friends and family.

The next step to combat the shortage of labor is to invest further in automation. Automation reduces our reliance on manual labor while increasing production.   

Tags:  compensation  labor  recruitment 

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Labor Trending Downward

Posted By Keith LaCanne, Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The available workforce in our industry will trend downward as wage pressures continue to increase in our area for less labor-intensive production roles. We’re already challenged to fill open positions and anticipate 2018 presenting similar hurdles. Projecting five to ten year scenarios will depend on strategic decisions. The best option for J&B Pallet is to examine all automation alternatives and focus on developing a more nimble, highly skilled employee work force.

Primarily, a combination of wage rates and location, as our locale is at nearly full employment, with a broad base of opportunities in production, agriculture and service industry positions, are all factors. This generates upward pressure on starting wage rates, and makes retention of trained employees challenging as well.

Wages and the physical demands for many production roles make it challenging to recruit. There is competitive pressure for all roles, mainly from traditional manufacturing facilities, warehousing/logistics opportunities, and agricultural positions.

Automation, mechanical solutions, and process modifications to mitigate the physical demands will help. Implementing automation solutions for the future will also drive skill development and opportunity for advancement, resulting in a higher functioning work force in the next 5 to 10 years.

Tags:  automation  labor  workforce 

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Manual Labor, Lack of Interest?

Posted By John Swenby, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

There is a definite lack of interest in manual labor or minimum wage jobs. And the tough part is that those same workers do not have enough interest in gaining skills to take them farther as they age. Government “entitlements” are a huge issue/factor in the labor equation for some employee categories. We have used Temp agencies, work release programs, and job fairs as ways to bring individuals into the operation, with limited success. In conversation with customers, vendors and other business owners in the area, the labor issue is common across the board. Our health insurance provider has similar issues with office staff as we are having with production laborers.

 

Our organization will actively be moving toward a European style repair system with robots and additional labor eliminating processes. Custom size pallets may be increasing difficult to provide to customers.

Tags:  automation  labor  robotics  training 

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Automation, Immigration

Posted By Howe Wallace, Thursday, April 12, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The labor market will be more challenging in the immediate future. We don’t think the 10 year time frame is a relevant planning horizon. Automation will get cheaper and more broadly implemented in that time frame. We try to remain competitive on pay and benefits. 

There is a growing trend of young candidates being inexperienced with physical labor and having a disdain for it. This trend has been amplified by the tighter immigrant restrictions. The key is finding candidates who thrive in our environment - open up the immigration lanes. 

Tags:  automation  immigration  labor  millennials 

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Labor Commentary (Ontario)

Posted By Luke Sternberg, Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Building a pallet is hard work, the lack of interest is also a big part of the labor issue. I see an advancement in automation as part of the solution to finding labor. As labor costs continue to increase, it may be the only way to stay competitive.

The increase in minimum wage in Ontario has added challenges to recruiting. There are more positions in the market now with similar pay. General labor manufacturing roles with non-skilled help are our biggest competition for labor. Automation will help over the coming years.

Tags:  automation  employee  labor  trade schools  training 

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Labor Pool and Training

Posted By Jeff VanZeeland, Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

We strongly believe in offering our employees a livable wage. For those who stay with FVWP for 2 years or more, most can expect wage, bonus and profit sharing. We have several production employees who make very good salaries, and we support these wages by staying efficient via maintaining a corporate culture that rewards and acknowledges success; setting measurable goals; and having our ownership group actively involved in daily operations. It is our job to communicate the value in what we do and reward people verbally and financially for a job well done.

We focus on locating high character people first, and then dedicate the training resources. Due to low unemployment rates, the pool of available quality candidates has dropped. Once we fill a position, it’s unlikely they've ever worked in a manufacturing setting, therefore training and patience is crucial. If someone shows up for work every day and has a good attitude, we’ll move their wages up within a few weeks, and continue to motivate and train them.

Our primary competition is for entry-level talent. Our region is full of small to mid-sized manufacturers also struggling to find talent. The pressure is on all of us. However, since most of the entry level positions require minimal education, we can offer competitive wages without educational strings attached as an advantage. Also, engage with the local high schools to find individuals that are not planning to attend college or a tech school.

Tags:  labor  labor pool  retention  training 

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Labor Challenges (Iowa)

Posted By Chuck Burke, Monday, March 19, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

With the baby boomer generation now starting to retire, I do not foresee the labor issues getting better any time soon. Improvements will need to come from automation. There is a lack of work ethics from the 19 – 20 year olds entering the workforce. Most don’t want to work more than 20 or 30 hours per week.

There aren’t enough employees to go around! In our area, the unemployment rate is 2.4%, which anytime this drops below 3%, the few applications we do receive are mostly unemployable. Our area also completes with agriculture (farming) plus other manufacturing facilities looking for labor. In the next 5-10 years, we’ll have to turn to legal migrant workers with the support of additional automation. 

Tags:  immigration  labor  workforce 

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Labor Pools, It's All Demographics

Posted By Chris Lasseter, Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

It’s all demographics right now. There are more workers than ever, but there aren’t as many of “those jobs” as there are people wanting them. So we have a perfect storm of plenty of labor with few of the jobs that people think they deserve. We don’t have a job problem in America, we have a work problem. The choices we must make are simple; you lower your standard for a job and you lower your standard of living accordingly until you can take the next step. Looking 5 to 10 years down the road gets interesting. However, as an eternal optimist and believer in the American people, we’ll figure it out. Hunger is always a great motivator.

Training is vital, and we must do a better job of helping people succeed. My wife taught for 20 years and I remember her saying that if a kid leaves us and can’t read, then we failed him. For years, our industry has just thrown people at jobs and expected them to figure it out or we’ll get another employee. Well, the next one won’t figure it out either, so why not spend more resources and set this one employee up for success.

In our area (South Eastern, Alabama), the food industry is our biggest competition. The area is heavy in poultry and peanuts, and all the big national brands have processing facilities within driving distance, so our middle management, and even the best of the forklift and maintenance, work there because they offer better wages. There is no magic answer and each region is different. In talking with people across the nation who are having success in finding workers, one solution is locating laborers who themselves are bouncing back in life. But to do that successfully, you can’t treat people as numbers, they are people who will need a little extra assistance. They will show up, sometimes because they don’t have a choice, but most often because it is their only choice. 

Tags:  demographics  labor  training 

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