The Top 3 Current Food Processing Workforce Challenges

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By 2050, food production will have to increase by 70%.

This intense demand is contributing to the unique labor problems that food and beverage manufacturers are facing. Here is what’s at the top of the list of concerns, along with some helpful tips to make your workforce management robust enough to combat them.

1. Mismatched Labor and Demand

Since employees at the plant are responsible for production deadlines, forecasting labor demand correctly is critical. Inaccurate forecasting negatively impacts the bottom line, whether it’s paying for redundancies or not having enough people to get the job done.

This pressure is compounded by another stressor: an industry with steadily increasing production demand is facing a worker shortage. According to a survey done by Land O’Lakes, only 12% of adults are considering a career in manufacturing and engineering… as a whole. This is primarily due to the fact that today’s job seekers are looking for perks that food manufacturing does not typically accommodate, such as educational benefits or the ability to work remote.

To cope with the shortage, your workforce management strategy needs to involve access to real-time analytics to determine demand—and what your workforce spread currently looks like to control any gaps proactively. Once you have these real-time updates, it will be easier to determine when it’s time to schedule overtime to qualified employees or to bring on temp workers.

2. Harder to Retain Employees

Less workers means less skills to go around. What’s probably at the top of your mind right now is where you’re going to find your next wave of employees, from the plant floor to the upper levels of management.

Beverage companies in particular have issues hiring and retaining skilled labor for plant operations. That’s because it’s hard for employees to receive adequate training in production-intensive environments, like large carbonated soft drink (CSD) and water companies; with extremely high production volumes and low margins, there is not much freedom to shut a line down for training blocks. Compounding the problem is that 12-hour shifts are common, leading to fatigue and eventual burnout. You can read more about the dangers of worker fatigue here.

The good news is that there are processes your organization can put in place to safeguard your current workforce and retain your exceptional talent.

It all starts with giving everyone at the plant, from your line workers to your schedulers and supervisors, transparency over their schedules to combat burnout and increase the length they stay with the company.

The ability for employees to have real-time visibility into their schedules to request time off, volunteer for shifts, swap assignments, and even attest hours not only increases employee morale, but frees up the scheduler’s time dealing with grievances in-person.

3. Strict Compliance Laws

Human error in food manufacturing is a public health issue; contamination makes people sick. Food processors have intense guidelines to follow because it’s not just about the safety of the workers, but the public as well.

And while the deadline for meeting the requirements of NFPA 652 is not until September 2020, your facilities will need to be reviewing and maintaining management systems, process safety data and information, training, process-control systems, processing equipment, and the cleanliness of the facility itself consistently.

To stay compliant, proper employee training is key. You need to make sure only workers with the right certifications are handling the right task. But qualification and certification tracking gets confusing when your organization relies on employee information hosted in an excel spreadsheet.

To handle the complexity, you’ll need a fully functional and integrated qualification management system (QMS) that automatically breaks down the skills across your entire workforce and allocates the right person for the job. Your plant runs more efficiently and stays in compliance when the right person is in the right place at the right time.

How Indeavor Can Help

There’s a way to overcome these challenges keeping your HR and Operations teams up at night: Indeavor’s proprietary solution, Workloud.

Workloud is our workforce management SaaS solution which offers clients an end-to-end, cloud-based employee scheduling, time & attendance, and absence management system. Workloud integrates with your human capital management and enterprise resource planning systems to create a robust platform that provides you with real-time employee data.

Learn more or request a demo here.