According to our research, the major trends of interest to retail food companies include food safety, store brands, channel management, consumer perception of price/value relationships and nutrition, health and wellness. But in conversations with numerous industry executives during the past several months, one major trend invariably surfaced – a growing concern about the retention and replenishment of our workforce.
Yes, I know that's why we rely on human resource departments with stringent hiring and termination guidelines and employment manuals that cover every possible situation. However, to ensure an engaged, motivated workforce, top management must personally establish and support the program.
When evaluating labor and labor costs, consider the cost of high turnover and the difficulty of recruiting qualified people. A research study by Infohrm Group, a workforce reporting analytics company, found that only 14 percent of the responding companies were prepared for the potential loss of skills, corporate knowledge and leadership that's expected to occur within the next five years.
Research from WorldatWork, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based nonprofit, suggests 38 percent of employees are searching for new jobs. Most are looking to move because they lack recognition or feel underappreciated. At the same time, the departure of baby boomers will cause a massive brain drain, and their experience and knowledge will need to be transferred before they leave the workplace. We need to get better at motivating and retaining workers. The labor force will value job enrichment, flexibility and career development above job security and stability.
As highly respected futurist Malcolm Gladwell says, "We know with absolute certainty that the cognitive demands of the workplace of the future will be greater, not less." While an easy solution doesn't exist, Gladwell says, "We have to get better at helping people learn a job."
Food industry executives need to work together to address the needs of retail employees at all levels and to spend more time and resources discussing ways to address them. Our future depends on it.
President and CEO, Stagnito Media