Independent Processor Editor-in-Chief Sam Gazdziak spoke with experts of the Missouri Association of Meat Processors after a talk on employee retention and training.

Sam Gazdziak, Independent Processor: Mike, in your talk, you mentioned you have a morning meeting with your employees to get the day started. Can you talk a little bit about that meeting and how it helps?

Mike Sloan, Hermaan Wurst Haus: We have a morning meeting every morning. We start at 8 a.m. It’s a paid break, so they get their paid break before they’ve actually started any work. It’s a coffee break, a soda break, whatever they want to do. We take 10 to 15 minutes to talk about what we are going to do that day. We prioritize what we are going to do that day, because not all things will get done, but I give them input at the same time. They seem to watch over me and help me figure out what I forgot. It’s an engagement process. That’s what I try to do to keep them engaged, but it’s not always work. We talk about non-work things. What did you do last night? How’s the dog? How’s the cat? What’s going on? That kind of thing. So it’s a lot of interaction, but it keeps everyone interested and focused. After I leave that meeting, 10 to 12 minutes, they go their way, I go my way, and then I will go back and check on them occasionally throughout the day, but it empowered them to do what they want to do and it helps me get done what I have to do for the company.

Gazdziak: Kevin, one of the things you talked about was during your hiring process, you have a formal sit-down job interview. Could you talk about that process, and what are some of the things you are looking for in a potential hire?

Kevin Western, Western’s Smokehouse: We have a list of questions that we ask the potential employee and we glean the information we need to find out if we are good for each other. That’s what I like to refer to it as: good fit for each other. We sometimes find in the course of the questions being asked that we might not be a good fit for the employee. The other thing I’m looking for in that interview process is cleanliness. Are they shaved? Are they wearing decent clothes? Things like that. Are they presentable? Do they look like they would fit in our environment? Things like that we are trying to get from that interview process and really put our best effort at hiring someone for success. That’s what we are looking for.

Gazdziak: Louis, you mentioned as part of your job interview process, you sometimes allow walk-throughs to see the plant and allow people to see what goes on in there. Can you talk about how that helps retain good employees and find people who are going to stick around?

Louis Fantasma, Paradise Locker Meats: I think we really found that a lot of people that apply have never even been in a meat plant, so I think it really helps to give them an idea of what they are getting into. It really helps them figure out if this is something they would want to do. Most people have never even been to a plant. I think it really helps. We walk them through and give them a tour. Talk about what we do, and we even go so far as to let them hang out for a couple of hours in certain, specific departments. That can give them some idea to figure out if we are going to be a good fit for each other.