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Technology Is Helping Us Build a Great Independent Workforce

By Joseph M Palmeri

July 24, 2019

width=225The theme of this issue of BoxScore is Workforce Wows and Woes. As I have traveled around the country in my role as AICC Chair this year, it seems I’m frequently asked the following question: Joe, how do you find and keep good workers in all your plants? Here at Jamestown, we’ve hit on what I call a three-part approach: 1) using technology to afford flexibility; 2) utilizing technology to find and recruit new talent; and 3) utilizing new technology and automation to reduce our reliance on labor. Let me elaborate.

First, we have found that for today’s professionals, flexible hours and schedules are an attractive benefit. So, we have allowed our office personnel the option to work from home several days a month. Technology makes this possible, as we are all connected now via internet and our wireless devices, so let’s take advantage of it. This can’t work for every position, of course, but for certain accounting or other office functions, it is feasible.

In addition, because we are a multiplant system, we find that good people are energized by new challenges, and so, if an opening occurs in one plant, we offer it internally to those in other locations. Thus, there are frequent opportunities for advancement or learning new skills within our company. Some of these new responsibilities can be handled remotely or with minimum travel to the new location, so again, technology allows us to do this.

Second, we are utilizing today’s technology to help in our recruiting efforts, primarily through the use of social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. We find we can get the Jamestown Container Cos.’ message out faster to a far wider audience of prospective employees using these social and professional networks. To help make this possible, we recruit summer interns from local colleges—read: young people—to research, post, and distribute our message electronically. These bright students help us out, and in learning our business, they may well stay on after graduation.

Third, working with our AICC Associate members, we always look for ways to automate our plants in order to help reduce the number of workers we need. Automatic pre-feeders come to mind to help reduce the labor needed on some of our machine centers. Safety is another key attraction in our company, where our plant operations, aided by our good suppliers, provide the safest of work environments for all our associates.

Finally, in keeping with my “Invest and Engage” theme, we utilize the resources that AICC provides in training and education and even in recruiting, such as AICC’s recent partnership with JobPath (www.jobpath.com), which helps members recruit qualified military veterans. When you invest and engage, AICC delivers success—and helps you build an excellent workforce!

 

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Joseph M. Palmeri

President, Corrugated Packaging, Jamestown Container Cos.

Chair, AICC