Get on the Bus: Human Resource Strategies Essential to Success

By Rob Southern | May 15, 2013

An ethanol plant manager is typically focused on running the daily operations and producing a quality end product. In addition to ensuring the equipment and people inside the plant are running correctly, human resource needs must also be met.

When it comes to finding and hiring the right employees, a little community involvement goes a long way. Be active in local and school job fairs and career days. This provides personal interaction with people who are eager to work. When your plant has an open position, a person who has already heard about the plant or met a plant recruitment manager will be more likely to apply. It also pays to sponsor community events. This ensures local visibility and name recognition, which is a key recruitment tool.

Be sure to recruit for open positions using the latest technology. Placing an ad in the newspaper used to be enough but today’s employees are scanning job boards, social media and LinkedIn to find work. The local Chamber of Commerce may also have a job board that can help reach candidates with specific skills and put together a pool of qualified candidates.

Interviewing potential employees also takes preparation. Ask candidates the right questions, check their references and conduct appropriate background checks and drug screenings. The extra effort ensures you utilized all resources available to get the best people on board.

If you question your ability—and time—to post an effective job description or whether you are asking the right interview questions, call on a human resources consultant for the best approach. Think about what you need to do to get the best candidates in the door. Experience counts and that’s why companies utilize consultants who work in human resources on a regular basis.

Training new and current employees is a vital step in maintaining an efficient and happy workplace. When a new person starts work, don’t assume they know what they’re doing based on previous experience. Offer a thorough orientation of the plant and provide knowledge they can use now and in the future. Giving them the time up front pays dividends later.

The first 90 days on the job are vital and the initial training can make a new employee feel they are valued by the company, which contributes to positive morale. Excellent new hire training also gives them the confidence to hit the ground running.

For current employees, training has to be relevant and apply to what they’re doing today and in the future. Make it engaging by avoiding a lecture-style classroom and get participants involved. Training is costly if employees do not grasp or remember the concepts because they were bored or uninterested. Make it worth the time by showing them the connection of how their daily work impacts the future of the company.

Dealing with employee compensation issues can be a sensitive subject but an employer who is prepared can avoid having an awkward conversation. Do your homework to be sure pay is competitive in the marketplace, which can be accomplished using salary survey data. Also, remind employees about the value of their benefits, not just the salary numbers. Pay your folks based on performance and provide incentives for quality work. Having a systematic plan, including pay ranges for compensating staff is much better than winging it.

Salaries are one of the largest expenditures for a company and an HR consultant can help companies review what each employee is compensated to ensure the company is effectively managing this cost. In this economy a 3 to 4 percent raise should not be expected every year but it’s also important to reward people who continue to do great work. Other options are to give a lump sum payment, or bonus, instead of a raise.

Getting the right employees on the bus is essential and keeping them is critical. Thus, providing positive and strong human resource strategies is key to driving that bus, or company, down the road.

Author: Rob Southern
Kennedy and Coe LLC consultant
specializing in human resources
rsouther@kcoe.com or
316-691-3736