I’m a third-party administrator consulting on staffing, safety, and compliance. I have frequent and frank conversations with CEOs in the protein business, retail, warehouse operations, foodservice, and many other allied industries. It’s a challenging time staffing your company. I always ask CEOs what are their top five problems that keep them up at night. The No. 1 issue is frequently staffing.

Great people are the foundation of your company. Good employees have many common denominators: longevity, work ethic, honesty. They come to work every day, have a great attitude, and help you move your agenda forward. There are those people who come and go, and you want to avoid having too many of them because they're a waste of your time and resources.

Staffing the line is challenging, and there is no room for remote options. There is an opportunity for injury, so safety is paramount. The best companies find a way to attract and retain great employees and that's a key component of their success. Being well financed and having a great business strategy is important, but without the people to execute it, plans fall apart. Attracting and hiring the right people is critical. Hiring the wrong people while giving some temporary satisfaction creates significant long-term hardship.

Having a process to screen applicants that removes the bad apples is imperative. Drug testing and simple personality testing is a great way to prevent you from making costly mistakes. Marijuana laws are a moving target state by state. How do you negotiate through this jungle? Start with the right candidates. Expedite your hiring process. Instant oral drug testing for applicants provides results in minutes. Interview, test, and hire on the spot. Get a result and put them to work immediately. It's 99% accurate and detects up to 12 drugs. Employee buy-in to how they fit into the company and its culture is uber important. We want them to have a great work ethic, a positive attitude, reasonable expectations, and a vision for the future.

Promoting your company culture

Creating the right work culture and communicating that to your potential candidate is critical. You need a united front between PR, HR and safety to help you attract the right people with a useful mindset. The best coaches have the best players. It's no different with staffing. Showcasing your culture boosts your brand and attracts the best recruits to keep your workforce encouraged. You need to be your own cheerleader and own it. Nothing happens by accident.

You need to have an engaging digital presence that places your culture in the forefront on your website, in blogs and in any public communications about your company. Have a strategy that leads to more influence and impact. Successful cultural promotion includes being committed to growing your emotional intelligence. Showcase the company leadership, and inspire others to action. Share employee-driven content and encourage employees to share your content. It's a great way for job seekers to see the real culture through the eyes of people who already work there. On a local level, Facebook can be very useful, and LinkedIn and Instagram can be great as well. If you’ve been diligently cultivating a culture that employees want to be a part of, now’s the time to be shouting it from the rooftops.

Countering the Great Resignation

Today’s job seekers want to know what your company culture looks like, whether it aligns with their values and if others are happy working for you. That’s why it’s so important to have HR and PR teams working together as you continue to combat the Great Resignation. In my decades of experience as a public relations and integrated marketing professional, I’ve helped countless companies spread the word about why their organization is the place to start and grow a career. While strategies vary from client to client, the basic tenets remain the same: Know and promote your company culture’s talking points.

Think beyond compensation and benefits

Don’t simply tout the benefits your company offers. Tie them to your core values. For example, promote how your leadership prioritizes employee health and wellness rather than just saying you provide gym memberships. Instead of focusing on internal promotions, talk about how teams leverage your learning and development initiatives to carve out exciting career paths.

Onboarding of new employees is supercritical in the food business. At many food companies, more than 50% of our line worker turnover occurs in the first seven to 10 days of a new employee’s tenure. Having an initial adult conversation with your new hires is very beneficial. Tell them it will be cold and their muscles will get sore. For any who played sports, it's like the first two weeks of football camp. Once you get in football shape, it's not so bad. To put up with that initial distress, they must buy into the long-term future they have with your company. Getting them through the first 14 days is critical for retaining them as long-term workers.

Food companies will continue to struggle to meet demand amid continued shortages of labor, transportation, and raw materials, with more companies tapping temporary workers to perform tasks. Companies have been forced to boost hourly pay and offer bonuses to appeal to workers, but many workers have switched industries, retired early, or never returned to the workforce after leaving during the pandemic.

Employees are in the driver’s seat. And when it comes to choosing where they’ll land, they’re being selective, looking at reviews, seeking feedback from connections, and researching the company itself, especially its culture and branding:

  • 86% of employees and job seekers research company reviews and ratings before applying (Glassdoor/Harris poll)
  • 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the company actively manages its employer brand, e.g. responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment (Glassdoor survey)
  • 68% of Millennials, 54% of Gen-Xers, and 48% of Boomers visit employers’ social media channels to evaluate the brand (Career Arc study).

Grocery hoarding has become a disruption pushing America's food supply near its breaking point. Have a staffing strategy that includes showcasing your culture, employee involvement, competitive compensation, a great screening process including drug testing, and corporate buy-in to the process. With the right mindset and execution, you can successfully negotiate through this minefield that we're in. Great resources are available.