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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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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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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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Define Your Company Culture

Posted By James Ruder, Thursday, February 15, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Without question, the first response from people when asked about their company’s workforce is usually negative. Regardless if asked today, or 5-10 years ago, employers find themselves always complaining about labor. I’m guilty too, but not anymore. I found it to be wasted energy and draining to say the least.

Things began to change when I started to recognize the value of the human capital surrounding me and realized that filling jobs wasn’t all about me needing workers to produce “my” widget. I recognized the opportunity to positively influence people that needed help in their lives. It is easy to think that entry level workers are the most challenging, but the fact is that every human being that walks through my front door has a ton of baggage, and junk in the trunk. If I expect them to deal with their problems outside of work, and yet show up with a smile on their face every day, then I am the fool.

The fact is that turnover is our enemy, not the available workforce alone. Pallet company business owners have gotten used to needing hundreds of applicants yearly when they only have a handful of jobs to fill. My plant manager Jay Doyle reminded me not worry about having a long line at the door. He encouraged me and said, “We just need 10 people today boss, not 100, if we can keep them from leaving.”

The magnitude of that statement is huge because it creates freedom from worrying about what is happening in the job market with so many other opportunities. It challenges us to be smart in a different way. Looking at what I’m doing internally to keep employees is a far better use of my time than trying to figure out where to advertise jobs to reach more people. 

It’s foolish to keep doing what I did 20 years ago and expect it to work. Demographics have changed for sure. But I don’t control those things, I only control how I respond to change. Expecting it to be enough to just give an employee a fair market wage, an average benefit package, and a dirty hard job, is foolish. We need to ask ourselves how to become the destination for people looking for work, and it’s going to look different for each of us based on our surroundings. 

Millennials are causal. In other words, missional. They want their life to count. They join in worthy causes. They don’t give to church, but they will contribute to a friend in need or a GoFundMe cause. We can work with that at L&R Pallet because we have started to hire people based upon being a cultural fit first, skills/ability second.

It has been my experience that all people need purpose. Applicants don’t come to us with a burning passion to make pallets, but they do come with a longing to be a part of something greater. So “what” do I do to staff my workforce? My job (my mission) is to lead and take care of the people standing in front of me. Their job (their mission) is their work station. Our job is building, serving and impacting everyone and everything through what we do. The vessel just happens to be a pallet, but it is not “why” we get up every day. I get up to make a difference to a captive audience that reports to work for 40 hours each week. It’s an opportunity and a responsibility. By doing that, serving the customer has become easy. 

The answer is actually simple; start loving people. I guarantee it’s the secret sauce in defining your company culture and figuring out where you will be in 5 to 10 years.

Tags:  immigration  labor  millennials  personnel  workforce 

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