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Recruiting, Retaining, and Rewarding Your Employees

By Greg Jones

March 21, 2022


With the ever-increasing competition for talent, what can companies do to attract the right individuals? It will require creativity. We will need to reward in ways that will encourage, motivate, and ultimately serve to help retain prospective employees. This is a challenge most companies are facing—critical as we move toward our goals.

Having now entered my 10th year at SUN Automation, I can humbly say that I recognize and deeply appreciate the industry itself. It’s something I can’t quite express. I had spent my first 25 years in other related B2B spaces, from food and beverage to hardware and insurance. I can assure you that the greatest of these is packaging. What makes it even more special are the relationships and camaraderie felt throughout—expanding beyond our individual jobs and continents. Having the privilege to be part of AICC and engaged with other associations throughout the world, I have even more respect for our industry and the folks in it.

We know we have a lot to offer prospective employees, and the industry has invested greatly in generating public awareness. Many fellow AICC members created diverse work incentives and in-house programs to entice new recruits interested in R&D or green initiatives. We’ve partnered with colleges and engaged on social media to attract younger talent. There is a renewed commitment to employee recruiting overall.

However, how do you reward and retain talent once it’s through the door? The initial thought goes to compensation. However, I’ve come to realize it’s more the opportunity to feel valued. We have been fortunate at SUN to hire individuals over the last five years whom I never thought we would be able to recruit. Early into conversations with new recruits, it was made clear that they wanted to be somewhere where their voices were heard and they could make an impact. We just needed to create the opportunity.

Another great reward and retention tool that many of you should consider is an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). An ESOP allows for employees to be rewarded for company growth and establishes accountability throughout the organization. Employees gain shares in the company every year, so everyone has an interest in how we are performing financially because it impacts their individual bottom line. Having worked for a Fortune 200 company and now an ESOP, I can honestly say it is an entirely different mindset. It’s much easier for the individual to see the value in every job and to have the desire to work together as a collective, when the results are shared.

No matter how you recruit, retain, and reward your employees, stay vigilant in your efforts, and look for unique ways to separate from your competition. Whether it’s through an ESOP or value-driven initiatives that fuel employee growth and training, it’s important to understand that employees want more than a paycheck. It’s our job as leaders to help them feel valued and create an atmosphere in which they see the potential in giving their time and talent to organizations like ours.

Greg Jones is executive vice president at SUN Automation Group and is vice Chair of AICC’s Associate board.

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