-MATTHEW SMITH, Director of Recruiting at Linen Recruiter

Just as companies in our industry have gotten creative in how they attract customers, they must now deploy similar creative techniques to recruit talent. Whether your need is for production employees on the floor, or managers and executives to lead the team – here are 23 tips from a laundry industry-experienced headhunter to improve your talent acquisition and retention efforts:

Tips for hiring production employees in a manufacturing environment like commercial laundry
  • Finding Production Employees and Filling Entry Level Positions – We’re hearing a lot from operators: “How can I find and hire more production employees?” These first three tips are very helpful when you need to promote this type of job opening. First, make sure you properly analyze compensation for each position to make sure it’s competitive. Research compensation data for similar positions in similar industries and near your geographic location. This can be obtained from salary surveys, industry reports, government data, and reputable compensation databases.
  • After analyzing base compensation, emphasize the benefits and net discretionary income (NDI) the employee would be entitled to. Benefit examples include health insurance, retirement plans, and bonuses for performance, retention, attendance, etc. But what really determines a person’s ability to survive and thrive is their own “bottom line,” or net discretionary income (NDI), which is the money your hourly workers have remaining after paying for essentials like rent, utilities, and childcare. Orienting compensation around the bottom line can be game-changing for recruiting and retaining talent, because you can show employees that they’ll have money to survive, and maybe even thrive. Consider benefits that contribute to an employee’s bottom line: transportation and childcare subsidies, tuition reimbursement, matching credit card or student loan debt repayments, or negotiated discounts for your employees. These bottom line enhancers can be huge in differentiating your business from other employers nearby and can help you win the battle of finding and retaining hourly employees.
  • Finally, if you’re advertising a job online, be prepared to analyze and possibly increase your job advertising budget. Most job boards incur costs for each impression or view, and with so many companies looking to fill similar positions, and job posting volume at a high, your budget won’t go as far as it used to, and when you budget runs out, your job will not appear in search results. You may want to consider working with a recruiter to optimize your budget and manage your job campaigns.

The remainder of these tips are universal and can help attract talent for any position type at any level.

  • Compel Candidates with Your Careers Page – Successful career sites should be designed to be informative and to excite candidates about the idea of working for your company. Your career site needs to lead with what candidates care most about – tangible benefits like PTO, insurance, and retirement – and intangible benefits like growth opportunities, positive workplace culture, and reviews from your current team members. Videos posted on your careers site will make a great impression and can communicate all of the above.
  • Optimize for Mobile Users – Mobile devices have become the primary means of accessing the internet for most people. This includes job seekers who are often searching for opportunities on-the-go or during their free time. Having a mobile-friendly application process not only enhances engagement but also showcases your organization as tech-savvy and responsive to the needs of modern job seekers.
  • Simplify the Application Process – Gone are the days of lengthy employment applications. If you’re asking tons of questions on your application, it is surely detrimental to your recruitment efforts. You can ask for more detailed information from candidates if you decide to move them forward in the hiring process. Applying should be as simple as a few clicks and/or uploading a resume or submitting a LinkedIn profile.
  • Which Job Board? All of Them, Plus Social Media – There’s no answer to the question of which job board will provide better results. The best approach is to use as many of them as possible, plus all of the common social media outlets. The catch: it can be very time consuming. Research which job board has more candidates relevant to your specific opening and use automated screening questions to eliminate candidates that do not have the desired experience. The other catch: it’s expensive. Watch what you spend, and keep in mind that you’re only accessing active candidates (people looking for a new job) with paid ads.
  • Revamp Your Employee Referral Program – Encourage your employees to participate with a referral reward program. Rewards do not need to be elaborate – a small bonus, team lunch, or paid time off are inexpensive and create friendly competition. Communicate these programs in the break room and at every team meeting. These programs work especially well for sourcing production and driver/RSR candidates.
  • Reviews and your Employer “Brand” – According to a survey by Fractl, one in three workers has turned down a job offer after reading negative reviews about a company online. Whether they are true or not, your potential employees are reading reviews about working for you on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, Facebook, and LinkedIn. As a leader of your company, I would recommend reading them (Google your company name and ‘employee reviews’) and bringing them to your management team’s attention. It’s also important to respond to any online criticism in a way that rises above the negativity and shows that the organization is genuinely committed to improving.
  • Maintain a Pipeline of Passive Candidates – Savvy employers will keep a list of nearby potential talent who could be candidates for key roles should they become open. Know your market – both local and industry wide – or consider working with a recruiter that knows qualified passive candidates (currently employed elsewhere) that wouldn’t otherwise see your job ads or postings.
  • Change the Game with AI – Businesses and recruiters are increasingly using Artificial Intelligence to reach out to passive candidates, streamline the application process, assess candidates’ aptitude for specific roles, and optimize job advertisements. There are lots of options, many with a hefty price tag. For example, you could implement AI-powered tools to screen resumes quickly and efficiently. This allows you to identify candidates with the most relevant qualifications for further consideration.
  • Video Speaks 10,000 Words – Video can help you converse with candidates remotely, including those that may require relocation. Many candidates don’t know what to expect in a commercial laundry environment, so I would recommend creating virtual tours of your plant. This offers candidates an inside look at the environment they’ll be working in and helps them visualize themselves as part of the team.
  • Track Where Your Hires Come From – Tracking source of hire (referrals, applicants, or which job board, etc.) will help you distribute your hiring resources to the most effective recruiting channels. You should also track your spending in each channel to determine how cost effective it is. Direct more resources to the most valuable channels and adjust or drop the underperforming sources.
  • Offer Flexibility Options – One perk that’s increasingly prioritized by job seekers is flexibility. This can be tough to offer for a commercial laundry business as most employees must be physically present. However, there are several ways manufacturers can offer flexibility to their employees even when remote work is not a viable option:
  1. Compressed Workweeks: Offer the option for employees to work longer hours on certain days in exchange for shorter workdays on others. For instance, they might work four 10-hour shifts instead of five 8-hour shifts.
  2. Shift Swapping: Allow employees to exchange shifts with their colleagues, provided it doesn’t disrupt production or safety protocols. This can help them manage their work-life balance.
  3. Employee Feedback and Suggestions: Involve employees in discussions about potential flexibility options. They might have insights and suggestions that management hasn’t considered.
  • Consider Hiring Part-Time Contributors – If the full-time talent you seek is too difficult to find or excessively costly to hire, considering filling the position with multiple part-time employees who have embraced the gig economy. I’m betting this is a trend we will see more of. Many people would now rather work less (and even make less or give up benefits) versus work 40+ hours per week. Promoting flexible full-time, part-time or per-diem options will appeal to a larger number of candidates.
  • Secure Talent by Making Offers Quickly – Candidates expect a speedy hiring process. Once you’ve identified a qualified candidate, get them interviewed quickly. Remember that in this “employee’s market,” qualified people aren’t going to wait. Two interviews should be enough, with three being the max. Assessments are a great tool, but they should be scored quickly, and multiple assessments may offend your candidate. If you’re no longer considering a candidate, let them know right away. Your entire hiring process, from initial interview to offer, should be about 2-3 weeks.
  • Pay-for-Performance vs. Pay-for-PotentialPay for performance is the compensation system Boomers typically use to set and increase pay. It’s what most who’ve been working for a while are used to: salaries increase slowly and steadily the more you work, and bonuses that are paid if/when goals are reached. This is great for a sales position, but younger generations in other positions may see the incentive pay as “pay at risk.” For this reason, you should consider a pay for potential ideology. This philosophy levels the playing field based on what each employee brings to the table and how well they leverage their competencies. It’s a new concept that gets rid of “the more years you work, the more money you should make” mentality, recognizes individual talent, and attracts younger, high-potential talent.
  • Start an Internship Program – Internship programs offer tremendous benefits to businesses in terms of increasing productivity and recruiting well-suited staff members—especially in small- to medium-sized organizations. You can test drive the talent, take advantage of low-cost labor (almost all interns are paid these days), bring in fresh ideas and energy, and find future full-time employees. The laundry industry needs to improve our efforts to bring a new generation of talent into the industry, and internships are a great way to do that. Linen Recruiter offers intern recruiting and program planning assistance.
  • Engage New Hires Fast and ‘Preboard’ Them – Candidates are never really yours until they show up for work on their first day. In this labor market, candidates have options and could ‘ghost.’ Employers share responsibility for this trend: 4 in 10 employees say they’ve experienced a lack of communication between the time they accepted a job and their first day of work. Maintain regular contact with new hires before they start. Ask peers that the new hire will be working with to call the new hire to welcome them and make an introduction. A welcome call from the CEO would also be very meaningful.
  • Play the Long Game – In today’s tight labor market, it’s harder than ever to fill vacant roles with talented people. Yet for every job you post, there are many potential candidates who landed on your career site but didn’t see an opening relevant to their experience. Stay in touch with these would-be candidates by using (or better utilizing) your applicant tracking software. This could include email campaigns, an invitation to lunch or an open house, or growing employers may consider making an early investment in talented candidates – hiring and training them before an urgent need exists.
  • Retain Employees by Investing in Them – You’ve done the right things to hire the right talent. Now invest in ways to keep your employees working for you, rather than a competitor. Invest in ongoing training opportunities for employees to develop new and hone existing skills. Provide regular feedback and touchpoints from managers. Strengthen mentorship programs by providing resources and incentives for active participation. According to a 2016 Gallup study, millennial turnover alone costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion per year. Reduce turnover by investing in your people.
  • Post-Hire Engagement and Advancement Discussions – Continue engaging with candidates after they’re hired. A well-structured onboarding program and regular check-ins demonstrate your commitment to their growth and success within the company. Emphasize the potential for career advancement within your organization. Highlight success stories of employees who started in production roles and have since moved up the ladder. Demonstrating a clear path for growth can attract candidates seeking long-term career prospects.
  • Work with a Recruiter – Sometimes you just need to go with the most convenient option. Working with recruiters who are experts in the field saves you time and effort. Finding qualified candidates requires considerable effort and knowledge. You need to know exactly the kind of qualifications your candidate should have and the skills they need to do the job. When it comes to practical steps to finding the right people, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It makes sense to work with an experienced and qualified recruiter who can help find and screen talent, and also offer advice such as these tips. In the end, you’re always going to do the final interview and make the final decision. Linen Recruiter has the scalable staffing resources and employer branding tools to help businesses in our industry of any size. Working with them will help you save time and focus on your business.

While none of us can predict the future or the economy, we can guarantee this: Recruitment will be defined by innovation, technology, and obtaining passive candidates — and the organizations that embrace these will have greater success at recruiting the right employees for the long haul.

About the Author: Matt Smith is a headhunter and the Director of Recruiting at Linen Recruiter. He has a background in the commercial laundry industry, having been a route rep, a service manager, and eventually a GM, who led and grew his family’s linen and uniform service business before pursuing a career in talent acquisition. Matt is also trained and certified by ADP’s Advanced Internet Recruitment Strategies (AIRS), the global leader in recruitment training. Contact Matt at matt@linenrecruiter.com or 518-848-1028

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