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Packaged for Success: Making a Permanent Investment in Temporary Workers

Here are tips on how packaging departments can address the challenges that come with recruiting, training, and working with temporary staff in today’s gig economy.

Brandon Hoog

August 17, 2023

7 Min Read
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Andrii Yalanskyi / iStock via Getty Images Plus

In 2022, the packaging industry in the US was valued at $11.6 billion, up 2.5% from the year before according to a recent study by IBISWorld. In fact, the market size of the US packaging industry has grown 5.2% per year on average between 2017 and 2022. But with the hiring challenges and supply chain disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, how has the packaging industry continued to grow?

As economic activity began to recover after the height of the pandemic, the packaging industry, like many others, began to rely even more heavily on temporary workers to keep business moving. Naturally, as the need for interim workers increased, so too did the challenge of effectively sourcing them as companies were forced to shift their approach to appeal to a workforce with an entirely different set of expectations surrounding hours, workload, and even deadlines in some cases.

Ensuring that employees are aligned with a company’s expectations is always important, but especially when it comes to temporary team members, whose tendency to switch projects and work for multiple companies can result in the lack of a strong sense of commitment to the business. Temporary workers often struggle to fit into a company’s culture. That’s why it is crucial for packaging departments to focus first on understanding the difficulties associated with both hiring and keeping a provisional workforce so they can tailor their sourcing efforts accordingly and set up their business along with the entire packaging industry for long-term growth and success.

Building strong relationships with staffing partners is a good place to start.

Once you’ve gained that understanding, you can start focusing more on the actual hiring practices themselves, specifically on how to implement more fruitful practices. Building strong relationships with staffing partners is a good place to start. Experienced staffing partners can be hugely helpful in connecting you with qualified talent to fit your company’s needs.

Companies can supplement their efforts with applicant tracking software, which also more accurately matches available jobs with qualified candidates.

Additionally, companies can supplement their efforts with applicant tracking software, which also more accurately matches available jobs with qualified candidates. With applicant tracking software, your company can automatically push job postings to specialty job boards where candidates can not only complete an application and upload a resume but also designate specific skills and competencies they possess for more rapid interview and placement opportunities.

Different dexterity tests … measure the accuracy of new employees’ hand and finger movements. Based on the results, we place employees in the positions they are best suited for …

Another method companies can employ to more accurately match qualified candidates with available jobs is dexterity testing. At We Pack, we use a variety of different dexterity tests to measure the accuracy of new employees’ hand and finger movements. Based on the results, we place employees in the positions they are best suited for, whether that’s as a line packager, forklift operator, or quality productions clerk, for example.

We have also taken an additional step to combat staffing challenges by deploying one solution that has shown dividends of success …

We have also taken an additional step to combat staffing challenges by deploying one solution that has shown dividends of success in our hiring practices — creating our own sourcing and hiring company.

 

Benefits of creating your own staffing company.

At the height of the pandemic, when our industry was facing a severe workforce shortage and companies were forced to pivot and be more resourceful with hiring practices, we created our sister company, WeSource, a temporary staffing provider and management company.

Over the last two years, I’ve noticed three main benefits with WeSource:

1. Because WeSource serves as the exclusive provider and manager of temporary staff for We Pack, their team has a unique understanding of our company’s culture and business needs and with that, an unparalleled ability to meet those needs with the most qualified and suitable candidates.

2. By building off of WeSource’s ability to find candidates who fit our company’s culture, we’ve deepened our team members’ commitment to our business and established a strong and steady pipeline of workers.

3. Lastly, much like the applicant tracking software, WeSource allows us to begin onboarding and training during the interview process, making for a smooth transition into our sometimes-complex operation.

Keep in mind any generational differences that might impact employees’ preferred communication styles … cover your bases with multiple submission avenues to capture the best employees.

It’s also important to keep in mind any generational differences that might impact employees’ preferred communication styles throughout your hiring processes. For example, older generations may prefer to complete applications via email or on a company website whereas younger generations might be more comfortable scanning a QR code or using a text messaging service to submit an application. In any case, it’s best to cover your bases with multiple submission avenues to capture the best employees.

 

Use different onboarding and training methods for temporary workers.

This flexibility also applies to your company’s onboarding and training efforts. Temporary workers often require different types and levels of training. A simple way to account for these differences in training needs is through a variety of group, one-on-one, and visual training methods.

In my experience, group training can be used as a simple and effective way to initiate and strengthen new team members’ understanding of the different packaging that takes place on each line. This also offers a good point to determine which employees might need more in-depth training than what is planned, particularly if there are language or experience differences. As a starting point, group training can be supplemented through a number of visual demonstrations and production floor and lines cues.

From there, new employees should be paired up for one-on-one training with experienced team members, like line leaders, who will serve as a mentor and provide more detailed, hands-on instruction on how to properly fulfill your role. As mentioned earlier, aligning temporary workers with the company’s expectations and overall mission is pivotal in establishing a strong, steady pipeline, so the operational systems and work instructions leveraged on the production floor should constantly reiterate your business processes and continually guide employees step-by-step through them to ensure the job gets done right, every time.

After training processes have been enacted, you can continue to hone employees’ skills with a learning management system, like Learn by Think HR for example. Providing team members with constant personal and professional development opportunities evokes a heightened sense of investment that unfortunately, interim employees often lack, resulting in a lower commitment to the company. Learning management systems offer a simple yet effective solution for helping team members feel integrated into the business and a part of the team. They can also go a long way in helping your company further solidify a strong and steady pipeline of qualified talent for continued growth and success.

It is important we all learn to address the challenges that come with recruiting, training, and working with a temporary workforce, for the advancement of our companies and the packaging industry as a whole.

The bottom line is this: The packaging industry, as it has for much of its history, will continue to heavily rely on the efforts of temporary workers. As such, it is important we all learn to address the challenges that come with recruiting, training, and working with a temporary workforce, for the advancement of our companies and the packaging industry as a whole.

 

Brandon Hoog is President and Chief Information Officer for We Pack. He leads the daily operations of We Pack Logistics while working with the leadership group to strategically expand the business into new markets and continuously improve processes through technology and quality driven solutions. Hoog also serves as Chief Information Officer (CIO) with responsibilities for the information technology solutions across the Harrison, Walker & Harper enterprise. He joined the company in 2006 and has more than 20 years of leadership experience. Before joining We Pack, Hoog spent 10 years in the telecommunications industry with Nortel Networks. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.

About the Author(s)

Brandon Hoog

President and Chief Information Officer, We Pack

Brandon Hoog is President and Chief Information Officer for We Pack. He leads the daily operations of We Pack Logistics while working with the leadership group to strategically expand the business into new markets and continuously improve processes through technology and quality driven solutions. Hoog also serves as Chief Information Officer (CIO) with responsibilities for the information technology solutions across the Harrison, Walker & Harper enterprise. He joined the company in 2006 and has more than 20 years of leadership experience. Before joining We Pack, Hoog spent 10 years in the telecommunications industry with Nortel Networks. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.

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