A cool dozen

In the not-so-glamorous meat and poultry industry, The NATIONAL PROVISIONER reveals what makes 12 companies among the best employers.

By Allison Bardic, Senior Editor

What makes some meat and poultry companies great employers? Ask their employees and they’ll likely tell you it’s the total package that matters the most. While all employees are decidedly interested in salaries and benefits, it’s often other factors that play the greatest role in retaining them.
From work environment, business values, and people leadership, to employee recognition and career development programs, high-performance companies understand the significance of a positive workplace that keeps employees motivated and productive.

Meat and poultry processing companies in The NATIONAL PROVISIONER’s “Top-Meat-and-Poultry-Companies-to-Work-for-and-Why” report were assessed on such criteria as corporate culture; career development opportunities, including training, continuing education, and tuition reimbursement; benefits, including health insurance, stock options, and 401(k)s; internal communication; employee rewards and recognition; corporate reputation; employee feedback; and financial health. Surveys were sent to 2,500 companies nationwide to solicit nominees, 12 of which are highlighted in this report. There’s no ranking, as NP’s list of “Top Meat and Poultry Companies to Work for and Why” is not definitive. Rather, it is intended to showcase 12 companies devoted to achieving employee satisfaction, and the retention and attraction techniques that have been most effective for them.

Medical Insurance                     
Dental Insurance 
Life Insurance                     
Flextime  
Childcare                    
Stock Purchase Plan   
Company Matched Retirement Plan                   
Unmatched Retirement Savings Plan    
Part-time Employee Benefits                  
Wellness Programs, Health Screenings     
Casual Dress                 
Employee Training      
Management Training                
Continuing Education       
Tuition Reimbursement               
Open-Door Policy        
Company Newsletter              
Suggestion Box         
Employee/Management Forums             
Employee Surveys           
COMPANY No. Of
Employees
                 
Bar-S Foods, Phoenix, AZ 1,500 4 4 4     4 4 4   4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Cargill Meat Solutions, Wichita, KS 32,000 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Carolina Turkeys, Mt. Olive, NC 2,350 4 4 4       4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4      
Johnsonville Sausage LLC, Kohler, WI 1,100 4 4 4 4     4 4   4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4   4 4
Oscar Mayer Foods, Madison, WI 60,000
(Kraft Foods)
4 4 4 4   4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Pittsburg, TX 40,000 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Premium Standard Farms, Kansas City, MO 4,400 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
RMH Foods LLC, Morton, IL 75 4   4 4       4   4   4 4 4 4       4 4
Sara Lee Foods, Cincinnati, OH 10,000 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Swift & Company Greeley, CO 17,000 4 4 4       4     4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
Tyson Foods Inc., Springdale, AR 110,000 4 4 4         4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
West Liberty Foods, West Liberty, IA 1,000+ 4 4 4 4   4 4   4     4 4 4 4 4        
* Companies are listed alphabetically.
BAR-S FOODS

Workplace Philosophy: Teamwork and sharing of ideas; employees know mission; promote from within; and provide ongoing training.


Bob Uhl, president, Bar-S Foods

Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry? Explain any unique strategies your company employs.

A. Successful employee attraction and retention takes a package of benefits and ongoing activities. It starts with the basics, competitive wages, and benefits, but quickly shifts to non-monetary items. Employees are looking for a financially stable company with strong leadership. The company must provide employees with clear direction and communicate regularly on expectations and employee issues. There must be a system for recognition and rewards, and ongoing motivation programs. Training must support the entire process.
Bar-S starts with the basics but adds some key ingredients. The company shares its success. Every employee is eligible for an annual bonus. The Winner’s Circle program provides recognition and is the basis for allocating hourly bonuses. The Fit-to-Win program encourages health awareness and physical achievement. Our culture demands that we promote from within. There are countless motivation programs that emphasize awareness, but also bring fun to the hard work. A newly revised training program not only provides background on company culture and programs, but more importantly, trains on the importance of people and how we treat them with the “dignity and respect” stated in our Commitments.

Q. What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?

A. Bar-S always strives to create an environment of mutual trust and respect. We have a simple but effective grievance system. Employees know if they have a problem, their voice will be heard all the way to the president’s office. Teamwork plays a big role in the Bar-S workplace. We believe that continuous improvement more readily occurs when our people address problems as teams.
Training is also a cornerstone of the Bar-S workplace culture. Each employee receives an average of 60 hours of training per year. This training allows us to promote the vast majority of our managers from within our own organization.
Q. What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?

A. Communication is the glue that makes everything work. It is one of our top priorities.  We have learned that most problems can be avoided when employees know what is happening at the company. Line meetings at the production-floor level are conducted regularly. Goals and expectations are made clear. Each quarter the senior management visits each plant and meets with line management, and annually the president personally addresses all hourly workers. Bar-S conducts a biannual employee survey and takes action based upon the feedback.

Q. Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?

A. Bar-S has a clear, well-communicated vision, and is directed by strong leadership.  The company is financially sound. Employees are given every opportunity to succeed and advance. Employee retention is a priority. Every effort is made to provide competitive pay and benefits. The company shares its success with all employees. This is summarized best in our mission: “We will make Bar-S the premier company in the processed meat industry. Premier in the eyes of our customers, suppliers, and teammates.”

CARGILL MEAT SOLUTIONS
Workplace Philosophy: Value and belief is number one. Caring and training our people is critical to our success.

Bill Buckner, vice president, Cargill,
co-leader of Cargill Meat Solutions

Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry? Explain any unique strategies your company employs.

A. Our first value and belief at Cargill Meat Solutions states that caring for and training our people is critical to our future. We apply this belief day-to-day in attracting and retaining employees. An applicant should understand what the job entails prior to joining the company. In addition to talking about the jobs during interviews, we use videos and plant tours to help achieve a better understanding of the job.
After hiring, the “socialization” process begins. That means getting to know the culture and the people. New-hire orientation includes involvement of the management team and supervisors. Once on the processing floor, a new hire is with a trainer for 90 days. “Expectation” reviews are conducted with the new employee, supervisor, and trainer to make sure the socialization process is proceeding. These and other strategies have helped us significantly reduce turnover, allowing the company to deliver fresh meat products to specification, exceed quality expectations, and provide timely order status.

Q. What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?

A. Our culture embraces a philosophy that “Everyone Matters.” We articulate this through our “Valuing Difference” initiative. Our differences help make us a high-performance team. Valuing differences requires respect and dignity, plus an open, hospitable workplace.
The philosophy of “Everyone Matters” has its roots in the ergonomics program. We were the first major processor to voluntarily adopt ergonomics in the late 1980s. Some of the best ideas for workstation design have come from the line employees themselves.

Q. What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?

A. Employee-management communication is essential in creating and sustaining a high-performance team. Our business improvement process includes regularly scheduled “home team” meetings with “pass up and pass down” processes. Additionally, we use roundtable discussions with employees at all levels to determine what’s working, what’s not, and recommendations for improvement. The effectiveness of employee-management communication is audited in various ways, from the new-hire expectation reviews to the annual engagement surveys. We communicate what was learned in the engagement surveys back to employees and take care to visibly implement actions that drive improvements.

Q. Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?

A. You could look at pay levels, health benefit programs, safety programs, and employee amenities such as locker rooms – all areas where we are leaders. We also provide a pension program for all employees, something not regularly found at meat companies. Those are important, but we think having a philosophy of “Everyone Matters” may be more important to drive engagement and longevity. We tend to promote from within, and several of our business leaders and plant general managers started out with us as college trainees. Having great people has made it possible to have a clear vision and mission, which has a goal of being the global leader in providing innovative solutions that create distinctive value. By focusing on growth and delivering solutions, we invest in a stable future for all employees.  
Bunzl Distribution Inc.
701 Emerson Road, Suite 500
St. Louis, Missouri 63141
Phone: (314) 997-5959
Fax: (314) 997-1405

On behalf of Bunzl Distribution, welcome to The NATIONAL PROVISIONER’s premiere “Top Meat and Poultry Companies
to Work for and Why?” report.
This exclusive report features an elite list of meat and poultry processing companies chosen based on such criteria as management and human resources practices, employee recognition and rewards, industry initiatives, and corporate culture. Moreover, each showcased company has displayed superior capabilities in retaining key personnel, demonstrating long-term growth potential, and achieving profitable results.
While the industry’s “Top Meat and Poultry Companies to Work For” exercise effective techniques for handling the challenges related to managing their workforce, Bunzl Distribution leads the industry in effectively managing the supply chain. The leading provider of plant operating supplies, Bunzl Distribution has the resources to service those processors seeking to control costs and boost supply-chain efficiencies.
By outsourcing with Bunzl for delivery of supplies only when needed, processors can reduce overall supply spending, improve productivity in storage and internal distribution, and focus more time on other value-added efforts. To serve its customers, Bunzl operates more than 75 distribution centers strategically located throughout North America, including Canada and Mexico, which collectively stock more than 30,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs) used in the food industry.
So while meat and poultry processors continue to face a myriad of challenges, including high employee turnover rates, rising employee benefit costs and employee relations, let Bunzl Distribution take responsibility for another critical area – managing your packaging and plant operating supplies.
Enjoy the “Top Meat and Poultry Companies to Work for and Why?” report for more insight into what today’s companies are doing to ensure successful employee attraction and retention.

 

CAROLINA TURKEYS

Workplace Philosophy: Associate
welfare, customer satisfaction,
and food safety are our top
priorities. Our management behavior
will build an atmosphere of trust, respect, and involvement with each other to accomplish our corporate objectives.

Dan Blackshear, president and
chief executive officer, Carolina Turkeys

Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry? Explain any unique strategies your company employs.

A. The one thing I would say that attracts quality people to the food industry is that we all like providing an affordable and nutritious product that benefits the consumer. To retain quality people at Carolina Turkeys we place a strong emphasis on competitive benefits, opportunities for personal growth, and continuous improvement.

Q. What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?

A. The qualities that define Carolina Turkeys are: Quality in all we do, personal and food safety come first, external and internal customer satisfaction, and respect for the individual.

Q. What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?

A. In any organization, communication is the key. First and foremost, management spends time on the floor talking with associates, and any associate is welcome to approach any member of management at any time through our open-door policy.  We strive for timely delivery of pertinent business information and recognition of associates’ personal events such as birthdays and anniversaries. We use departmental meetings, closed circuit television, bulletin boards with many graphs, job posting, and a company newsletter. Once a quarter, the operations group has a dinner and business update for all salaried associates. This keeps everyone focused on the objectives and committed to the plan.

Q. Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?

A. Carolina Turkeys is a high-energy growth company that is building for the future while it continues to grow its annual business. It is a company that offers opportunities through its Supervisor Apprentice and Trainee programs and Management Development program for talented individuals who want to invest in their career.
Additionally, we have a set of Guiding Principles that we strive to uphold in all we do.  The Guiding Principles are: “Associate welfare, customer satisfaction, and food safety are our top priorities. Our management behavior will build an atmosphere of trust, respect, and involvement with each other to accomplish our company objectives. We will continually improve our processes, products, and services. We will be a responsible member of the community.”
When we hire management candidates, we challenge ourselves to be sure that the person we select adds something more than the person we lost. We are looking for and building a management team that is results-oriented and considers relationships as the means for obtaining better results.  
JOHNSONVILLE SAUSAGE LLC

Workplace Philosophy: We are dynamic, liberating, and performance-oriented. As a family-owned business, we place a high premium on integrity, teamwork, continuous training, innovation, and personal commitment.

Ralph Stayer, chief executive officer, Johnsonville Sausage

Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry? Explain any unique strategies your company employs.

A. Our culture is a key ingredient in our retention results — which are above the industry. At Johnsonville, we start with the basic premise that everyone wants to succeed. Through hard work, we’ve built a company where each member knows he or she plays an important part in creating our success, and has a chance to share in that success.
We like to win. Winning is fun. Being a part of a winning experience is exciting...it keeps the members engaged and committed. We all share in our success by paying a monthly bonus to all members based upon monthly profitability.
Everyone is a member of at least one team so they are accountable to others. There are no bosses. Instead we have coaches whose responsibility is to see that the members they coach succeed.

Q. What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?
A. Our culture is our #1 asset. The members of our company are responsible for ensuring its health and endurance. The bedrock of our culture is the implicit values witnessed daily (integrity, teamwork, innovation, continuous learning, and commitment), and the guidance of what we call “The Johnsonville Way.” This helps define the expectation for individual success. Our vision is to become the best sausage company in the world. To prevail, all members must commit themselves to delivering superlative performance by defining what “great” looks like in the eyes of their customers, the measurement thereof, and the ownership of meeting those goals.  

Q. What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?  

A. Communication is the lifeblood of retaining the “small company” and family qualities of our company. We support this in numerous ways, including annual company-wide meetings with open questioning, monthly plant meetings, personal monthly contracts which define each members’ contributions, extensive measurement of results by everyone, the sharing of P&Ls, and a monthly bonus paid based directly on monthly profit/productivity performance.
Staying “small” in spirit is a challenge given our very fast growth, so we are adding new ways to keep the information moving across the organization. We have been testing a new method for daily plant meetings for all production members and are in the process of rolling that out to the other facilities. We also are installing inter-company broadcast capabilities so that there is continuous flow of information to the members.

Q. Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?  

A. We believe we are one of the best companies to work for regardless of the industry.  Our basic belief is that we have the moral responsibility “to become the best sausage company in the world.” That statement comes right from the “Johnsonville Way.”  It’s our people systems that make us so great. From that we get the commitment and teamwork that makes all the other stuff happen: exceptional products, outstanding financial results, customer success, and the best place to work for people who accept nothing less than personal greatness.
PILGRIM’S PRIDE CORPORATION

Workplace Philosophy: Our overall strategy is to create an atmosphere in which all of our employees, who we refer to as “partners,” feel valued and respected as part of a world-class team committed to our mission of “Outstanding Customer Satisfaction…Every Day.”

O.B. Goolsby Jr., president and
chief executive officer, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation

Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry?  Explain any unique strategies your company employs.

A. We offer stability and security to our employees by virtue of the fact that we are the second-largest poultry company in the United States and Mexico with almost 42,000 employees and $5 billion in net sales. Additionally, Pilgrim’s Pride primary ownership rests within the Pilgrim family, with Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, one of the original founders, as
majority stockholder and chairman of the board, so there is a strong sense of “family” that still exists today, even though we are a large public corporation.
We believe that our reputation in the community is another strong factor in employee retention. Our locations have Company and Community Pride (CCP) teams that meet regularly to plan the best ways for our partners to support community activities.
We offer competitive benefits to our partners including health care plans, a prescription drug program, dental and vision care, life insurance, disability programs, medical spending accounts, retirement plans, and educational assistance opportunities.
We believe strongly in individual and personal achievement and offer many different types of training for our employees including work skills and supervisory training as well as English as a Second Language classes. This training supports our company’s continuing commitment to, and emphasis on, promoting individuals from within the company.

Q. What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?

A. Key elements of our culture include our emphasis on integrity and family values, ethics, partner safety, and maintaining the highest standards of quality in our products and services while controlling costs.  
Our company embraces a philosophy we refer to as continuous improvement (CI), which focuses on the three cornerstones of quality, teamwork, and the continuous improvement of processes. CI is our management philosophy — the way we do business. Through CI, our partners are empowered to identify, quantify, and eliminate waste by examining each and every one of their processes on a daily basis. The mission of our CI team is to provide valuable skills and guidance in the development of our partners and in the initiation, implementation, measurement, recognition, and sharing of process improvements.

Q. What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?

A. We place a high value on open, two-way communication at Pilgrim’s Pride. We hold regular “town hall meetings” in which our partners are able to give us feedback on any issues that may concern them, and we hold regular “lunch and learn” briefings with corporate executives who give updates on the company’s performance, goals, and strategies. During times of organizational change, we take great care to communicate with our partners to inform them of the strategies behind decisions, giving them information on what is occurring and why.

Q. Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?
A. Pilgrim’s Pride is one of the best companies in our industry to work for because we value and respect our partners; we offer competitive wages, benefits, and training; we foster and encourage open communication with all our partners; and we place a strong emphasis on promoting from within.
PREMIUM STANDARD FARMS

Workplace Philosophy: Communicating and living values that people can believe in and support, listening and responding to employees, demonstrating a commitment to your workforce and the community, working to bring customers closer to the point of production — all these and more make Premium Standard Farms a great place to work.

Calvin Held (top) is vice president of
operations, Milan, MO and Jere Null is
vice president of operations, Clinton, NC

Q.  What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry?  Explain any unique strategies your company employs.

A. It starts with recruiting and selection. Once we select a candidate, helping them with a successful transition into our workforce is critical to retention. Our extensive orientation and work acclimation program improve the rate of early retention of front-line workers by helping them become accustomed to the production environment.
We are committed to providing a competitive wage and benefit program. An entry-level employee at Premium Standard Farms is offered the same health, dental, life, and 401(k) retirement program as the chief executive officer.

Q.  What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?

A. Our culture is best defined by our values:
  • •We are honest, ethical, legal, and credible.
    •We have a true commitment to worker safety, food safety, animal welfare, the environment, and social responsibility.
    •Our customer always comes first.
    •Rewards are tied to performance, and we benchmark to world-class standards.
    •We believe in empowerment and accountability.
    •We believe in treating each individual with respect.
    •We are national in scope and regional in focus.
Here are some good examples of how we live these values every day:
  • Gainsharing demonstrates our commitment to empowerment and accountability. Our Gainsharing team in each plant establishes specific, measurable targets for worker safety, food safety, and efficiency. The company enjoys improved productivity, and our employees are rewarded with a bonus paid each month the targets are met.  
  • Our commitment to social responsibility is demonstrated in our Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) program. The EAH program provides a forgivable loan of up to $5,000 to our employees; for each year of employment, 20 percent of the loan is forgiven.  

Q.  What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?

A.  Our communication philosophy starts with an open-door policy. Each year we conduct an employee satisfaction survey in each plant. We also use monthly “lunch and learn” sessions to generate more qualitative feedback from employees.  
We provide all employee communication in our employees’ first language of choice.  Newsletters, benefits updates, memos, etc., are all readily available to each associate in his or her preferred language.

Q.  Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?

A. Being a preferred employer is not about doing one thing 100-percent better; it’s about doing 100 things 1 percent better. Communicating and living values that people can believe in and support, listening and responding to employees, demonstrating a commitment to your workforce and the community, working to bring customers closer to the point of production, all of these and more make Premium Standard Farms a great place to work.
One additional unique advantage we enjoy is vertical integration. Every day our plants operate, our employees know they will have a consistent supply of high-quality raw material. Being able to take pride in the product you produce enhances employee satisfaction, and we believe integration plays a key role in that process.
  RMH FOODS LLC

Workplace Philosophy: Honesty and integrity will be our foundation. Teamwork “is” the way we will work. Respect and dignity will be given not earned. Work, fun, and reward will be our culture.

Jon Rocke, president, RMH Foods LLC
Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry? Explain any unique strategies your company employs.

A. We believe that attraction and retention resides in being a purpose- and vision-driven organization. As a small food company we understand that we may not always be able to compete in terms of compensation or benefits with other industries or even with larger companies within our industry, but we can provide a sense of purpose, importance, and inclusion that can many times outweigh dollars. For us, it begins with our mission: To provide foods and services that are recognized as superior by: our customers, our people, our industry. We take a great deal of time with potential associates to ensure they understand “who we are” before understanding “what we do or even what they will do.”

Q. What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?

A. We publish a set of promises to our customers, suppliers, associates, and our community. For our associates we promise that:
  • Honesty and integrity will be our foundation.
  • Teamwork “is” the way we will work.
  • Respect and dignity will be given not earned.
  • Work, fun, and reward will be our culture.
While it’s clear we don’t always live up to our promises, we are committed to a culture that is reflective of these promises, and publishing them certainly helps hold us accountable.

Q. What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?
 
A. While we believe it is critical, we also recognize it is challenging. One method we are able to employ because of our size is a monthly meeting we call “Donut Day.” It is our opportunity to meet as an entire shift with everyone from our executives to our production associates to communicate birthdays, anniversaries, company news, and outlooks for the future. We open it up for questions and at times engage in some very spirited discussions. The challenge for us will come as we continue to grow into multiple shifts and facilities to keep this type of activity going.

Q. Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?

A. Certainly, a large part of that answer is that we have been very fortunate. We have the unique advantage of being a small, innovative, and entrepreneurial-oriented company that is joined with a large forward-thinking corporate partner that provides us with incredible support and resources allowing us to be more than we could ever hope to be on our own. That strength along with our commitment to being a purpose-driven organization enables us to be a company worth joining. Profit and compensation will always be the measurement of our efforts but should never be the motivation. At Smithfield/RMH Foods we simply want to be the very best center-of-the-plate, value-added processor, and while that can be defined in many ways, it is critical that we are all committed to that vision. Then the wagon can be pulled in the same direction. 
SARA LEE FOODS

Workplace Philosophy: Sara Lee Foods is dedicated to creating an inclusive work environment that supports the needs of a diverse work force. And, we strongly believe it’s essential that employees maintain a healthy balance among their responsibilities at work, at home, and in the community.

Larry Hatfield, group vice president, human resources, Sara Lee Foods
Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry? Explain any unique strategies your company employs.


A. Sara Lee Foods relies on a simple approach to retaining world-class talent, the right balance of freedom, and structure. At Sara Lee Foods, you have the opportunity and the freedom to take charge of your career, trying new things, stretching and learning as much as you can from your superiors as well as your colleagues.
In addition, Sara Lee offers a comprehensive compensation and benefits package that recognizes both individual and company success.

Q. What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?

A. Sara Lee Foods is dedicated to creating an inclusive work environment that supports the needs of a diverse work force. And we strongly believe it’s essential that employees maintain a healthy balance among their responsibilities at work, at home, and in the community.
What binds all of our people is the company’s shared values. At Sara Lee Foods, we have a passion for excellence in all we do. We appreciate different backgrounds, ideas, skills, and experiences. We are committed to treating our customers, colleagues, and suppliers with dignity and respect. And, we take pride in giving back to the communities in which we live and work.

Q. What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?

A. Communication with our employees is critical to the success of Sara Lee Foods. We encourage open and honest communication between employees and management. And, we foster an environment that allows employees to bring different ideas together to produce a better, more successful outcome.

Q. Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?

A. Sara Lee Foods’ philosophy of empowerment, the opportunity to work on some of the best brands in the food business, and the company’s system of providing rewards commensurate with performance has made Sara Lee an employer of choice in the meat industry.
SWIFT & COMPANY

Workplace Philosophy: We are committed to being the best. We give people the chance to take risks and make mistakes… We do our best to encourage the kind of creativity that will have our competitors following in our footsteps.

John Simons, president and chief executive officer, Swift & Company

Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry? Explain any unique strategies your company employs.  

A. Keys to successful employee retention include:
  • Proactive support of employees’ growth, development, and well-being.
  • Teamwork that focuses on shared objectives.
  • Open, honest communication is a cornerstone for building trust.
  • Respect — showing in both word and deed that your employees are critical to your company’s success.

Swift & Company has taken several specific steps in recent years that have helped us dramatically improve our retention of production staff — cutting turnover in half in three years.  We have invested millions of dollars in our physical facilities (including new cafeterias, locker rooms, medical facilities, and lighting) that make our processing plants better places to work.  We also have committed to state-of-the-art training regimens that (1) better prepare the individual for the job, (2) improve workplace safety, and (3) minimize the physical strain on employees. We also have committed to Management in Training programs that encourage the continued development of our own staff to help them grow into our managers of the future.

Q. What qualities most define your company’s workplace culture?  

A. We have a very flat and open culture. Our senior managers are very accessible, and there are not a lot of layers to our corporate structure. At our corporate headquarters, we have deliberately created a very open physical environment that eliminates almost all doors, which makes senior managers physically accessible to their staff. It also encourages a team dynamic that we think is critical to business success.

Q. What role does employee-management communication play in your operation?  

A. Communication is critical to teamwork and our success. We have always valued direct communication from senior management to staff — and have a monthly report to staff from the president.  In our 16 months as a stand-alone company, we have added regular e-mail and print newsletters to employees to help keep the lines of communication open and current.

Q. Overall, why is your firm one of the best meat and/or poultry company employers?  

A. There are several key reasons why we are the best meat company to work for: We are committed to being the best. We give people the chance to take risks and make mistakes. We want to be the first to introduce new innovations, such as food-safety developments. We do our best to encourage the kind of creativity that will have our competitors following in our footsteps. We will have the safest workplace. If we make mistakes, we want them to be for doing too much, rather than too little.

   TYSON FOODS INC.

Workplace Philosophy: We are company of people engaged in the production of food, seeking to pursue truth and integrity, and committed to creating value for our shareholders, our customers, and our people in the process.

Ken Kimbro, senior vice president
of human resources, Tyson Foods


Q. What are the keys to successful employee retention and attraction in the meat industry?

A. Recognizing individual needs, while providing opportunities for growth and leadership.

Q. Explain any unique strategies your company employs.

A. Attraction:
Brand recognition. Tyson Foods is the leader in chicken, beef, and pork, with opportunities for growth throughout the United States and internationally.
The company offers management training, including core management skill plus diversity training, and:
  • Promotional opportunities (all jobs are posted internally).
  • Tuition reimbursement for job-related education.
  • 401(k) programs with a company match.
  • Stock purchase programs with a company match.
  • Competitive wages.
  • Profit sharing (bonuses).
  • Currently in the process of building individual
    development plans for management team members.

Retention:
Selection: The company uses a team approach to management interviewing.

Orientation: 


  • (Two to four days depending on the plant) for hourly team members.
  • Follow-ups after orientation (30-, 60-, and 90-day reviews) for hourly team members.
  • Communication meeting at the plants.
  • Retention meetings at the plants.
  • Employee Retention Committee at the plants.
•T.E.A.M.S. (Tyson Evaluation and Measurement System) reviews two times a year for all management team members, setting goals and providing structured two-way communications.