Hiring is a constant concern in the food processing industry, thanks to disproportionately high levels of employee turnover, sickness and injury. Hiring managers want to ensure potential employees can handle the stress and demands of their jobs, since hiring and training replacements costs millions of dollars a year.
So how can you find the absolute best employees to fill food processing positions at your company?
1. Don’t Ignore Character in Favor of Skill Set
Most managers hire applicants based on their skills and experience, but then fire those same employees for character problems like dishonesty, inconsistency, laziness or insubordination. During interviews, always include character-discerning questions that reveal the personality, disposition and values of the candidate. These questions could include:
- At your last job, what criticisms did you receive from your manager?
- What do you feel is an acceptable number of sick days or absences per year?
- How do you feel when you’re asked to do another person’s work?
- Describe a confrontation you’ve had in the workplace.
2. Never Hire The Number You Think You Need
Food processing is an industry of unexpected occurrences, high turnover and high injury and accident rates. Yet it’s extremely important that the meat doesn’t go uncut, or the bread unbaked. For that reason, you should always hire about 20 percent more staff than you think you strictly need. This will ensure the job always gets done, even if someone is sick or quits unexpectedly, so a heavier burden doesn’t fall on your remaining employees.
3. Don’t Trust Skill Sets — Test Them
While many food processing jobs do not require previous experience or training, some tasks are highly skilled and may take months or even years to learn. If you’re hiring for a skilled position, you want to confirm the candidate has the ability to accomplish the required tasks. Just because they attended a particular school or have a few years experience doesn’t mean they’re genuinely skilled. The best way to find out is to test potential employees. Have your top 10 candidates come in for a demonstration, or ask them to work a (paid) trial day. You can see their abilities in action before you commit to hiring.
4. Never Ignore Red Flags
Hiring managers should never ignore red flags on resumes or during interviews. If a potential employee has frequently changed jobs, if he badmouths his former place of employment, is late to the interview, or was rude to your secretary, pay attention. And most importantly, always check applicants’ references. According to a recent study by AOL Jobs, 53 percent of resumes contain false information including fabricated work experience, altered dates of employment and misleading education claims.
5. Don’t Neglect Basic Physical Requirements
Most food processing positions require strenuous activity and often include exposure to extreme temperatures and dangerous equipment. Employees may need physical strength for moving and manipulating heavy items, and the ability to stand for long periods of time. Food processing employees are susceptible to a higher rate of injury than most industries, particularly in areas like meatpacking where on the job injury and illness affected one in seven workers. Your potential hires must be able to handle the physical demands and stresses of the job. Once hired, you can reduce the rates of accident, injury and illness among your employees with extensive training, regular mandatory breaks, low overtime hours and a rotation of duties to reduce repetitive stress and fatigue.
Spending time and effort during the interview, background check, hiring, and training process will save you money in the long run as your find more productive and engaged employees who will stay with your company for years to come. Investing in hiring always pays off in the end, so don’t neglect this important part of your business.
Ryan Kohler is an HR Consultant and the CEO of Job Match, LLC – which provides hiring & applicant tracking software for HR professionals.