CHICAGO — Finding employees has been challenging over the past few years, including in the laundry industry.
Unfortunately, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says that demographic shifts and aging populations mean that worker shortages and hiring challenges will continue for years.
That doesn’t mean that laundry and linen services can’t be successful in filling positions with quality applicants.
They just need to be creative and flexible.
American Laundry News heard from six laundry operations about how they are working to make their hiring efforts successful.
FAMILY BUSINESS ROOTS
Plymate, a uniform rental and service company based in Shelbyville, Indiana, points to its Central Indiana Top Workplaces 2022 Award presented by the Indianapolis Star as evidence of its success.
The company says the award reflects the team and the organizational excellence it demonstrates daily.
“We believe that employee culture is only as good as what we put into it,” Plymate shares. “Every team member at Plymate is dedicated to creating the best experience for our customers, their co-workers, and themselves.”
As a fourth-generation family-owned business serving much of Indiana, the company provides hundreds of other workplaces with apparel, employee uniform services and floor mat programs.
“We’ve achieved the perfect scenario of big company capabilities with small company values,” says Ben Warnecke, Plymate’s vice president and general manager.
“Being locally owned and operated, having a genuine connection to our community, and staying true to our family business roots is a driving force for our positive company culture.”
The culture is reflected in the experience of its team. Plymate says the loyalty of its workforce is exhibited in its high coworker retention rate. Their attention to customer satisfaction is the core of the company’s philosophy—tenured coworkers who think “customer first” set it apart from the rest.
“Trusting the people you work with is paramount,” the company concludes. “Doing the right thing is a fundamental value that everyone embraces at Plymate. We are proud to have earned statewide recognition for our ethical business conduct.”
Michael Flores, vice president of human resources for Prudential Overall Supply headquartered in Irvine, California, readily admits that looking at the company’s data for onboarding and retention over the past couple of years, it’s not as successful as he would hope for.
“But we just have a wonderful team here, and we were able to get all of our product out and all of our routes out,” he points out. “And so, we got together as a team and we really did a great job.
“For whatever gaps we had in hiring, we made up for with our core teams. That was really great to see, and that was a great win for us.”
He says the other “great win” for Prudential in the current hiring market is that it forced the organization, especially hiring managers, to get creative and try new things.
“To reach out in new ways, look for new pools of candidates, interview differently, onboard differently,” shares Flores. “I think that on the back end of all of that, we have a better organization today than where we were two-and-half, three years ago.”
He says that today’s applicants seek more flexibility in terms of what they’re looking for, and they seek more growth and learning opportunities.
“I think that the labor market if you’re a candidate is really strong,” he shares. “We still have probably 9 million jobs open across the U.S., and those individuals that are job seekers, they know that they can really press employers to be more flexible in terms of what they have to offer simply because of supply and demand of labor.”
One way Prudential has improved its hiring process is by what Flores calls “velocity.”
The company used to wait until it had 10-12 resumes, identify the top three or four and then call them.
“That process simply didn’t work over the last two to three years,” he points out. “What we’ve gotten much better at is as we’ve run different job postings, as we’ve gotten applicants that come in through the door, as we’ve gotten more referrals, we now are equipped to drop whatever it is that we’re doing and to get attention over to that candidate—especially those top candidates—as quickly as possible.
“It’s made us a lot more aware of the importance of identifying and connecting with those potential new team members as quickly as possible. Where a typical role used to take probably 50 days, now we can reduce that down to a couple weeks and in most cases, especially in production, it’s actually much faster than that.”
Flores also says that Prudential’s hiring managers have become better at telling the company’s story.
“They represent the company in a different way,” he says. “They share their own experiences differently. Our managers are much better equipped today in terms of explaining benefits. They’re really more of an employment salesperson because they know that, especially for those top candidates, they know that they have other options.
“They now play a role of advocate for the organization to tell that story and hopefully get that person on board with us.”
Flores says the company also made some smaller changes to its hiring policies to reach more applicants, such as allowing visible tattoos and beards.
“We learned to be flexible, and it really helped us identify this idea that what we want to put in front of our customers is the right talent, the best talent that we can,” he shares.
“Sometimes that comes in different forms and different visions than maybe what we’ve held onto previously. Those small changes have opened us to consider a much larger candidate pool, and some of those folks have turned out to be just amazing staff members and they provide fantastic service to our customers.
“They might look a little bit different than they did years earlier, but ultimately it’s the satisfaction of our customers that we are primarily concerned with, and we’re glad that we made that change.”
To read Part 1, with stories from ImageFIRST Healthcare Laundry Specialists and Cintas Corp., click HERE. And for stories from American Textile Maintenance and Gallagher Uniform, click HERE.
Low-cost Opportunities for Direct Labor Employee Retention, June 1, 2023
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].