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Summary - FaB Talent Best Practice Session: Made the Johnsonville Way
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Summary - FaB Talent Best Practice Session: Made the Johnsonville Way

When: Thursday, March 15
8:30 am - 11:00 am
Where: Blue Harbor Resort Convention Center - Salons BC
725 Blue Harbor Dr.
Sheboygan, Wisconsin  53081
United States
Contact: Emily Allen

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Sixty-five turned out to learn about talent attraction and retention done The Johnsonville Way.

We met up at the Blue Harbor Convention Center in Sheboygan to hear Kevin Ladwig, Vice President, and Leah Glaub, Vice President of Human Resources (who share 25 years together at Johnsonville) give insights into talent attraction and retention done The Johnsonville Way.

Leah Glaub and Kevin Ladwig of Johnsonville

8:30-9:00 am
Attendees arrive, network, and a enjoy continental breakfast

Bryan Nieman and Bruce Medd
of Fromm Family Foods

Deanna Kutchenriter of Usinger's and Wendy Bushell and Claire Evans of Klement Sausage Co.

9:00-9:15 am
Welcome and FaB updates provided Shelley Jurewicz, Executive Director of FaB Wisconsin

Jurewicz kicked off by recognizing FaB’s sponsors, calling out those in attendance and reminding everyone that 20% of FaB’s sponsorship income is dedicated to our talent attraction and retention resources. She also recognized FaB’s Talent Committee (tFaB) for hosting the Johnsonville Talent Best Practice Session and called out their important work to address the fact that: 

She shared some realities around generational shifts in employment perspectives*:
  • 91% of Millennials expect to stay at their job for less than 3 years.
  • 51% are not engaged in their current job
  • Average Millennial will have 6.2 jobs by age 27
  • To Millennials the job is important, but their personal life is more important
*Points pulled from Food Manufacturing: The Millennial Impact: Cultivate Relationships Today for Success Tomorrow

That same report accentuates that while we’ve been talking for years about a skill shortage, it's actually now a talent shortage:
  • ~ 10,000 baby boomers leave the workforce for retirement per day
  • There are not sufficient numbers of Millennials to fill the workforce gap
Compounded by:
  • There are currently ~56,000 job openings in Wisconsin
  • By 2030, there will be a ~100,000 person talent shortage in Southeastern Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin's current unemployment rate is 3.4% (4.9% in Illinois, 3.3% in Minnesota, 3.0% in Iowa, and 4.1% in the United States as a whole)
  • Wisconsin food manufacturing wages are lower than contiguous states, ranking 11th in the nation

Jurewicz transitioned to sharing a key lesson learned by its Talent Committee: the talent pool is mostly unaware of food and beverage as a career-making industry with lifelong employment, with the ultimate career flexibility from farm to factory to fork. She shared some of the strategic actions being spearheaded by tFaB, including its FaB Careers Infographic, stressing that these are your new talking points. 

She also took the opportunity to promote FaB’s upcoming Farm-Factory-Fork Career Discovery (FFF) to inspire the next generation of talent. Nearly at capacity, 2018's FFF will include 16 high schools (~330 students and chaperones), four colleges, and 25 food and beverage companies. While each year is unique to keep students and companies coming back (2018 is being hosted by and at Mount Mary University), Jurewicz played a video about the 2017 FFF.

And that’s not all. FaB is also getting set to pilot its new MakerSafe basic food manufacturing safety certificate this spring. The certificate of completion will offer a new and needed career on-ramp to graduating seniors or adults transitioning to the food industry. It'll be offered online for $150 and renewable each year for $75. In addition, she stressed that MakerSafe offers small and medium sized food and beverage makers an affordable avenue to provide the documented annual training now required of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

In closing her updates, Jurewicz stressed the important role The Future Food Center will play in talent attraction and development and encouraged companies to look at having a presence at the center. Located in Milwaukee, the target opening in fall 2019. For more information, attendees were directed to

9:15-10:00 am  
Johnsonville Way Presentation by Coaches (not Supervisors!) Kevin Ladwig and Leah Glaub

The focus any company can give to retain their talent will pay dividends towards their talent attraction efforts too. “If you’re in Human Resources, you’re also in marketing,” said Glaub. Creating a work environment and team culture that can produce a company’s ambitions while caring for its people is the new fundamental. And not just caring, but coaching in a connected manner that provides outlets and interactions for its talent to grow both professionally and personally – it’s The Johnsonville Way.   

Ralph Stayer, Chairman and Owner of Johnsonville, is the man that created the company culture. That culture is shaped by some key insights Stayer garnered from a consultant he hired back in the early 80’s to help him get more from his people (now called members, not employees). Stayer says that he was told “he was the problem. It takes a certain kind of person to take that." If he was able to take tough and honest feedback, he was looking for a culture that fostered the same in Johnsonville members. The answer, while not singular, was an environment based on coaching because you care – one of seven Johnsonville guiding principles. 

Johnsonville is intentional about an environment where members and coaches “think like owners,” said Ladwig. Johnsonville’s coaching model isn’t off the shelf – it came from Ralph. The company’s mission, values and ambitious vision are being internalized and “taken off the walls and into the halls,” shared Ladwig.

Ladwig started their presentation by sharing Johnsonville’s history in their “Here we Grow” section that included the now retro Charlie Murphy commercial from the 80s. He took attendees through their mission, vision, and the guiding principles that comprise The Johnsonville Way, as well as their brand strength and steady sales growth.

Johnsonville - Charlie Murphy

Glaub came up to share the ideas that support Johnsonville’s key recruiting and retention focus:

1. Meet the needs of the emerging workforce
2. Ensure every members has a great coach
3. Build pipelines to critical talent

Ideas turned into actions with the formation of a young professionals group, formalizing flexible work schedules, fostering community service and giving, and creating a great place to work in their new corporate facility. Glaub emphasized the importance of a coaching environment and shared a video of Ralph Stayer, whose philosophy became the basis of Johnsonville’s coaching culture.  

Glaub went on to share how Johnsonville developed their employment brand which culminates in her showing a video that shares how they developed their member commercials, and had us all laughing.

Key takeaways:
  • Culture Rules - Is yours a privileged asset that provides competitive advantage?
  • Coaching Matters – It drives development and retention of talent.
  • Sense of Community – It captures the passion and heart that translates into engagement.

10:00-10:25 am

More insights surfaced during audience questions. Ladwig shared that conflict resolutions skills are for everyone, with all members learning from the “Crucial Conversation” training curriculum. It's helped people address conflict at its identity point to help avoid it becoming personal.  

Flextime was a juggernaut that needed addressing from the offices to the plants. “It turned out that within the plant environment, it wasn’t as much flex time, but members wanting more knowledge of their overtime schedules,” shared Leah. They now work to give greater advance notice so people can better plan and balance their personal lives.

10:25-10:30 am
Closing comments


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