Attracting and retaining a new generation of production employees is proving to be a challenge for corrugated manufacturers. We at Simply Packed, a modern supplier of corrugated packaging and supplies, are operated and staffed primarily by younger professionals. We realize that a young team is rare in our industry, and want to offer our unique insight into some new ways to hire and keep production staff at your facility.

How to Attract New Production Employees

Take Advantage of Marketing

To attract the next generation of manufacturing professionals, you need to meet them where they are. This means investing in your social media presence, your website and other marketing channels. Have a clear brand and communicate your company values through your digital marketing channels. Make job openings easy to find on your website; showcase employee events and team building; highlight your employees and teams.

Attend Recruiting Events

Consider joining job fairs as an exhibitor to meet potential talent face-to-face. Look beyond events offered regionally, and get in contact with local high schools, colleges, universities, and trade schools, if you are looking to recruit entry-level employees.

Alternatively, you could host an annual job fair or open house at your facility to gain attention from the community. During the event, you can host demonstrations of your equipment, offer tours, and even conduct on-site interviews for interested parties.

Develop Partnerships

Through strategic partnerships, you can tap into local education and career resources to get you connected with people in your area seeking work.

This can look like:

  • Partner with the local college or high school to offer semester internships
  • Partner with your local teachers to be a guest speaker at a relevant class or program
  • Offer a job shadowing program 1 Saturday a quarter

While many high schoolers are uncertain of their post-graduation plans, many of them may not be aware of their career options in manufacturing. Consider partnering with local high schools for career days, field trips, or even sponsoring a sports team for name recognition. Industry associations can also be a great way to pool resources, and add job listings to career boards.

Retaining Your Best & Brightest

Once you have attracted good talent to your organization, you want to make sure they stay with the company for years to come. Here are a few ways to help secure their future on your production floor.

Create a Positive Company Culture

A strong company culture serves as the foundation for a unified workplace. To accomplish this, the mission, values, and vision of the company should be clear to all. Integrate your mission into your brand and marketing design.

For new hires; make them feel apart of the team with a company t-shirt, a personalized welcome package and a small amount of business cards upon sign on. Connect veteran employees with new hires and establish a “buddy-system” mentorship style as part of the onboarding process.

Create social opportunities such as team building exercises, after-work happy hour, a company softball team, and more. This can help connect employees through casual settings and friendly competition.

In times of high volume, consider production incentives and performance competitions. Incentives can be a pizza party for the best performing press team, an ice cream social for beating a production record and more. Just do not lose sight of safety and health in the process. At the end of the day, be sure all employees are recognized for their contributions to the organization’s success – it is important your younger production employees feel seen and appreciated.

On a broad scale, larger plants can keep their employees connected by publishing a regular internal newsletter. Here company announcements, birthdays, milestones, employee achievements and internal interviews can be shared.

Plan and Host Events

While the annual Christmas party is a common hit, consider adding a Spring outing to a local attraction. Want to add a little friendly competition to the mix? Host a chili cook-off during a summer barbecue.

Make work fun by attending an offsite training event. There are organizations all over the country that specialize in company-wide training on universal professional skills like communication and teamwork.

Provide a Seat at the “Table”

Younger employees want feedback on their performance, but are not always sure how to ask for it. Establish scheduled performance reviews that allow for direct feedback and conversation between leadership and employees. As part of this process, work with your employees or production leads to establish growth tracks, where employees are given the opportunity to train and upskill on the job. This will position them for greater success in their role and a clear path for growth in their careers, which is very important to Millennial and Gen Z workers.

Sometimes, there are challenges experienced on the production floor that are not seen at the leadership level. Take feedback seriously, and even invite younger employees to relevant meetings as a way to exhibit trust and appreciation for their insight. However, not all employees will be willing to speak up, especially if the feedback is less-than-positive. Consider an anonymous feedback form for comments, concerns, and suggestions.

Attracting and retaining corrugated production employees will be the goliath of our day. To slay the giant, we must simply adjust to existing hiring and retention strategies. Look outside of traditional recruitment options, and be willing to train a new generation of production professionals from scratch. Find ways to make your company feel like more than a job, and rather a place where one can work, socialize, and grow as a young manufacturing professional. What works for our company may not work for yours, and it may take some trial and error. Try creative approaches to building the perfect production staff. We have no other choice but to master this giant in order to safeguard the future of corrugated manufacturing.

At Simply Packed, we are proud of our ability to attract and retain the a young group of employees for our sales operations. But we are not just experts at team-building, we are also experts at simplifying the packaging supply process. Learn more about our bulk packaging supplies and request a quote here.