Employee Compensation and Retention How do you measure up?

January 1, 2016

Scott Geffros

For most of my professional life, I have been a part of the recruitment, management, evaluation, and allocation of production staff.  I have been fortunate enough to have done so in small companies, where I observed first hand behaviours and reactions of employees to company policies, remuneration levels, benefits and other “perks”.  

Leadership trainers will identify that in many cases, financial compensation is not the be all and end all when it comes down to the satisfaction of employees with their jobs.  It took me a while to grasp that. After time, it did become apparent that many employees were much more satisfied with stability, positive reinforcement, and simple signs of being appreciated than they were with achieving higher wage levels. However, this does not go for all and although the former holds true for some, money is still the main motivator for the rest! This contrast in what drives your employees to do the best job possible is one that many find hard to accommodate when developing methods of improving employee satisfaction.

In our world, especially pallet construction and pallet repair/recycling, the rates of attrition will always be high. Our environment is tough, the physical demands are many and let’s face it…there is not much glamour associated with being a pallet builder/repair person. Having said that, these people are integral to the success of your operation. There is only so much automation available, so the root of your success stems from your ability to ensure that your employees show up for work, keep a positive attitude, stay healthy, and have a level of job satisfaction which will keep them productive.

There have been volumes written on the subject and over time, strategies to achieve maximum productivity through employee satisfaction have changed. Production workers are complex.  The upcoming generation in the workforce that are available to us, have and will continue to pose new challenges and hold different expectations than those that came before. Identifying and implementing strategies to maintain an effective and loyal production group will become increasingly important to the survival of your business.

I do not want to suggest that I have all the answers. For every successful strategy that I implemented, five more failed. In fact, at one point in time when production staff wages were the highest they had ever been in my facility (due to performance and output bonuses), my attrition rate was also at its highest. In that year alone, when reviewing the T-4 slips, I had gone through 96 employees to staff 27 positions over the course of the year, which did not include temporary staff obtained via agencies. High wages definitely did not equate to happy staff. Being in a constant state where new employee training, production deficiencies based on lack of experience, and the need for constant supervision is the norm, hits the bottom line in a ferocious manner, not to mention the level of demoralization observed in the group of employees who are in fact stable.  The inability to recruit and sustain a dependable workforce exposes and promotes negativity in many ways, all of which impact a company’s ability to be profitable.  Each company must research and tinker with the strategies that work best for them.  Influences such as population demographics, regional economic climate, and geographic locale must be taken into account when developing techniques and implementing policy to bolster your recruitment and retention efficiency.

There are many resources available to you to help develop in house procedures aimed at keeping your staff happy. However, there is little to no available data that will allow you to benchmark your basic employee remuneration and benefit level against the industry.  The CWPCA, at the request of its members and in an effort to provide you with data to help in the strengthening of your employee retention strategies, will be issuing a Wage and Benefit Survey in the very near future.  

We ask that you all take some time and provide the best applicable answers to the questions asked. ALL RESPONSES ARE 100% ANONYMOUS and you can be assured that your information will only be used to demonstrate industry averages by region and manufacturing type.  All data will be aggregated, and findings will be published and made available to our members, in the hopes that you may see how you measure up with the rest of the industry.

We look forward to seeing the results and do hope that you will find the information collected to be of benefit as you find ways to improve and increase your bottom line.

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