The food manufacturing and processing sector is undoubtedly experiencing some of the biggest repercussions from the Covid-19 pandemic. As the UK prepares to return to some form of ‘normal’ life, Deloitte report that an overwhelming number of employees are planning to spend only 2 days a week in the office confines.
However, how can you as a leader compete, in a sector in which working from home and flexible working is vastly more limited? If the year of 2020 taught us anything, it is that our people are our most important asset. Looking after them is therefore paramount and comes down to what are arguably the 3 most important c’s in the HR toolkit – compassion, consideration, and communication.
A year in review
In March 2020, the UK was told to Stay at Home. In an instant, there was an enormous increase in demand for food. What followed was an unprecedented upsurge in online orders that caused a nationwide system failure, not to mention panic buying and empty shelves. As such the pressure of fulfilling orders and hitting deadlines increased as retailers had to respond to dramatic fluctuations in consumer demands.
From an HR perspective, the challenges didn’t stop there. With many workers having to self-isolate, absenteeism and productivity became serious areas of concern. The ever-increasing demands in production rates also meant burnout was a very real possibility.
Employee safety had never been more paramount. However, there were also other areas of concern. Including health and wellbeing from the stress and anxiety that working in such conditions entailed.
Keeping morale and engagement high was becoming ever more challenging. Whilst all the time, playing out in the background was the ever-looming issue of Brexit and the worrying lack of talent that would once have come from the EU.
The way forward
Understandably, talent retention has become of critical concern and enhancing the employee experience is becoming increasingly difficult as the wider working landscape rapidly changes before us. For the food manufacturing industry, this is set to become one of the most problematic areas of HR.
As the world begins to open its doors again, will people who once worked in other industries, forced shut by Covid, go back to their former roles? Or will they be given reason enough to stay in this thriving sector?
In the following industry overview, we discuss each of the 9 factors that science has shown to determine success through people. Join us as we explore these in the context of the unique challenges currently being faced by employers in the food manufacturing and processing sector.