How to Attract – And Retain – Quality Talent For Your Wood Products Company

by | Sep 1, 2023 | 2023, Guest Columns, Logging & Sawmilling Journal, Research & Innovation, September/October, The Next Generation

By Richard Poindexter

Finding quality employees has been a struggle for most companies since COVID-19 entered our lives in 2020. Many employees have left the workforce, and many employees moved on to other jobs during the “great resignation”. Companies across Canada and the U.S. in most industries have struggled with this, so don’t think the wood products industry has been singled out.

So how do you bring good people into your organization? Here are some ideas to consider for your company:

DEFINE YOUR WHY—Create a mission statement for your company that defines your objectives and your culture. Here is a good example from wood products company Neiman Enterprises:

“We’re committed to timber production practices driven by forest health. We believe we are caretakers of the forest, utilizing experts who understand the science of legacy-focused forestry practices and committed to take action based on sound research and experience. Since the forest involves many stakeholders, we are partners, choosing to take an active collaborative stance when it comes to the work of ensuring our forests remain a viable, thriving resource, and choose stewardship efforts in pursuit of outcomes that will improve access opportunities for all of our partners.”

TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES WELL—Your employees are your greatest asset. To quote Richard Branson, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.”

Look for ways to invest in your employees, from tuition reimbursement to employee development programs to anniversary gifts for years of service. Other options for employees include family days, tickets to sporting events, and catered meals for employees on special occasions. Employees are much more likely to stay with a company when they are offered opportunities for advancement, compensated fairly, and enjoy the people they work with on a daily basis.

EMPLOYEE WELL-BEING—Make sure that safety is a top priority at your company. Make sure all employees have the appropriate safety equipment for the job (from steel toed shoes, safety glasses, ear protection, to reflective vests). Provide an employee assistance program (EAP) so that employees can get quality care for their needs when they arise. Make sure your employees have access to good medical, dental, and vision insurance.

HIRING—Streamline your interviewing process as much as possible. Candidates don’t expect to be hired on the first interview, but they don’t want the process to drag out either. If your human resources team is swamped with other objectives, consider bringing in a recruiting firm that specializes in the industry. You can also reward employees with referrals to help find good people.

Establish relationships with local colleges and universities—this can be a great way to find the next generation of workers for your company. Recent graduates may want to stay in the area and would consider working at a company that allows them to do that.

COMPENSATION—You knew it would come up at some point right? In a tight labour market, compensation is important. Evaluate what other companies are paying for similar roles in your area, and make sure you are offering a competitive compensation package. Take a look and see if you can offer a bonus and/or commission program that rewards individual employee performance along with company profitability. Consider an employee stock ownership program (ESOP) for your business to give every employee an ownership stake.

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Richard Poindexter, CGP, LEED AP BD+C, is President and Senior Recruiter with Search North America (SNA), which has been helping wood products companies find quality talent since 1982. He can be reached at richardp@searchna.com Cell:  (336) 456-8657.

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