Volume 1: Talent Realities

Companies make hollow, token statements every day:Roy

“Our service is second to none!”

“Our customers are our top priority!”

“Have it your way!”

As a customer, you may fall for one of these statements once, but never twice. Customers quickly realize that it’s sales nonsense and take their business elsewhere if the claim isn’t supported. And it’s no different for top talent.

“If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business” – Simon Sinek, Author

The turnover rate in the corrugated industry is extremely high. Why is this?

Many companies state in their human resources literature that “our people are our most valuable resource,” but this seems contradicted by the fact that the turnover rate is so high. If people are the most valuable resource, why are they cast aside, or allowed to leave so easily?

The collective attitudes of the people in your company make up your company culture and it affects the way your business runs: the way that standards are implemented, the way that hard work is rewarded, the attitude of staff towards getting the job done – it’s all defined by company culture.

So, is your company telling candidates that they will be joining one type of environment, only to have them disappointed when they begin working and discover a different culture?

  “Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove, we’ll settle for intense.” – Jeff Bezos, Entrepreneur

If you place so much value and importance on your people, how does your company culture demonstrate that? What are you offering your most valuable resource?

Does your company offer sizable compensation for hard work? Is the compensation offered at your company better than your competition?

You need hard work from your employees, but do you offer them the opportunity for advancement in return?

Companies like to boast about their investment in state of the art equipment and facilities, but often refuse to pay for extra training, leaving employees out of the investment equation. However, capital equipment investment without an ongoing commitment to your employees’ technical and leadership training will rarely yield the desired results.

Corrugated employees work hard for long hours, and, while it’s widely understood that this is the nature of the industry, there still has to be some exchange of benefits to reward this. The real question is: does your company respect your employees for the hard work they put in or not, and do your employees know it?

Imagine a scale, with high performance on one side and employee-centered on the other. Where does your company lie? This question requires honest appraisal, and the answer may be unsettling. Upon reflection, is your human resources department accurately describing this atmosphere to new hires?

“Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.” – Jack Welch, Former CEO, General Electric

The Corrugated Industry is all about profits. This is a fact of life in the Corrugated Industry, as shareholders and owners must be kept happy or they won’t keep their money invested.

So how else are you repaying your employees for their service?

“There needs to be conviction and action behind rules.” – Clay Christens, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard

Customers are forced to make decisions like this every day. For example, do they buy the five dollar sub of average quality or sit down and get a delicious Reuben for a little more? What happens when this principle is applied to company culture? What choices do companies have to make?

Can a company offer maximum profits to their shareholders, as well as an environment where its employees are happy, secure and valued?

If not, perhaps the culture statement used by most human resources departments needs to be rewritten. Perhaps, “our people are our most valuable resource” really means that “our company cannot reach our goals without a productive staff.”

“The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” – Tony Schwartz, CEO, the Energy Project

It may be time for a new direction. Time for the corrugated industry to start being more honest with its staff. Be honest with them in regards to the tradeoffs. Start telling them they have to work long hours in an environment that demands high performance. Be honest with them in regards what the tradeoff is.

Remember those companies that have stolen your business with false sales claims that they didn’t follow up on? Don’t be that company. Be honest, and see if you can attract the right talent.


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