All Hands on Deck – How Inland is Addressing a Tight Labor Market

by Lilly Blum

We’re hiring! Apply today! Open Positions! You’ve seen them all, recruitment slogans covering billboards, social media, yard signs, and more. They are commanding attention at your favorite clothing store and convenience stores, at your morning coffee shop, and in front of businesses during your commute. No business is immune from the hiring difficulties that are present in all industries.  Everyone is facing these challenges and we know it’s hard, but we’ll get through it. We all will. We wanted to share a few things that we are trying and doing differently to succeed through this uphill climb.

Labor Market

After an unpredictable 2020, and we’d argue 2021, turnover rates have jumped, unemployment is 5.2%, and it seems no company can get applicants through the door and get them to stay. Most industries haven’t recovered the number of employees to reach pre-pandemic levels. You might have noticed that your favorite stores have limited hours, or that your morning coffee stop is closed on Tuesdays. Companies are having to close early or take full days off due to lack of staffing.

It’s impossible to track down the root cause for this because so many things are at play. Unemployment benefits, people craving a new lifestyle, wanting to spend more time at home with their family, COVID deaths, among other things are warranting a whole new approach to recruitment, hiring, and working.

Inland’s Approach

We’re listening, trying to be proactive, and giving new things a shot. Here is what we are doing to combat labor challenges:

  • Increasing base wages
  • Bringing in new technology and automation
  • Partnering with local schools, TUMMA, and NEW Manufacturing Alliance
  • Adding apprenticeships and internships
  • Increasing schedule flexibility
  • Using a Quick Apply application to make applying easier

We’re not done there. We continue to adapt our workplace schedule and culture to fit what employees are needing now. Truth is, it’s a competitive market out there and we’re doing our best to show the labor market why Inland is a great place to start and continue your career! We need more employees, just like everyone else. While we work towards hiring more full-time and part-time production staff, we’ve enlisted the help of our office staff! They have been great team players when we asked for volunteers to start working a few shifts on the production floor. Our production employees were kind enough to welcome them in and show them the ropes! While everyone can be apprehensive about trying a new role, here’s what Leah, a Strategic Account Representative, said about her first shift on the floor, “Working on the floor was such a great experience not only for a better understanding of how the finishing process actually works, but to also meet the wonderful team that does this extremely important job. The work they do is not easy, and I am so happy to have been able to be a part of the team and learn a little bit about each of them as we spent the day together. Everyone was so welcoming and patient as I learned a job I have never done before. I am looking forward to my next shift!”

Everyone is lending a helping hand by volunteering to take a few shifts on the production floor. One of our Customer Onboarding and Transition Specialists, Natasha, said, “Working on Inland’s production floor has been an insightful and positive experience for me so far! It has helped me not only learn more about our processes, but it has also given me a greater appreciation for the work that is done on the other side of my computer screen. Getting to initiate and build further relationships with people I might not otherwise have the chance to interact with has been one of my favorite parts about working on the production floor. I personally feel more connected to the overall company of Inland by stepping out of my office and into a different environment within the organization.”

Even members of our leadership team are helping out, our VP of People and Technology, Mike, said, “how often in a day, week or month do you say to yourself, “I need to get out of my office and spend time with our employees that work in Department X or Y”, but you never seem to find the time to accomplish that, because a meeting or situation comes up that pulls you back into the office or conference room.  I am telling you…make the time. Recently working alongside our staff, and committing to clearing my calendar to fully engage and support our production team has been an outstanding experience personally and professionally.  It has allowed me an opportunity to gain such a better understanding and renewed appreciation of the work that gets done each and every day at Inland.  But even better than that, I’ve been able to spend quality time getting to know some of our staff, and allowing them the time to get to know me.  The conversations we’ve shared about their work, what I do in my role, how we can better support the company, and about our business and strategy have been fantastic and incredibly insightful.  I am excited for my next opportunity to contribute, support and learn from our great production team.”

Looking Forward

Armed with a great hard-working team and co-workers who are willing to step up and help when needed, we know we are ready for anything the world can throw at us. We are dedicated to providing high quality labels to our customers and a safe and friendly workplace for our employees.

While the last two years have been a challenge in every aspect of business, in a few months, we’ll be on to 2022! As recruitment challenges continue, we are hopeful that next year all our favorite local stores, coffee shops, restaurants and businesses will be open and thriving. If you’re looking for a change in your career, to try something new, or want to learn more about working at Inland, use our new Quick Apply form! We’d love to get to know you and tell you more about why we love working here!