5 Ways to Promote Wellness in the Workplace

Wellness in the workplace isn’t a new concept—far from it. But the events of 2020 have brought employee wellbeing into sharper focus than ever before. In 2021, organizations that recognize this and commit themselves to support their employees have been able to differentiate themselves from other employers by showing they truly value the whole employee, not just what skill sets they bring to the organization.

Our team at Curtis Food Recruiters collected our thoughts on a few of the most effective ways leaders can keep their teams supported, connected, and well throughout 2021. 

Get Everyone on Board

Before you start to build out or enhance your employee wellness initiatives, it’s important to make sure your teams are on board and motivated to participate. Surprisingly, studies show that 80% of employees do not have the inner drive to follow their organization’s wellness programs. Leveraging coaching and educating employees on the benefits of wellness programs can help boost participation and follow through on whichever initiatives you choose to implement. Bringing fresh, engaging and exciting ideas to your wellness program will certainly garner more interest than the outdated models some companies are still using. 

Here are a few tips from SHRM on how to establish and design a wellness program that works from the start!

Get Your People Moving

Exercising is an undeniable antidote for a variety of negative conditions, physical and mental alike. Commit your organization to step up its fitness goals in 2021. You can promote friendly competition and accountability for a variety of physical activities like jogging, biking (if you’re in Minnesota like us, maybe put this one on hold until Spring!), steps challenges, yoga and more. Decide what’s best for your unique company makeup and get your people moving in 2021.

Ongoing Virtual Employee Wellbeing Sessions

Based on what is feasible for your organization, providing an opportunity for your team members to seek out a wellbeing session is one of the most effective and helpful ways to respond to challenging times. Whether it’s guided meditation, yoga, or simply someone to talk to, it’s important to make it clear to employees that it’s okay if people are struggling and that you’re here to help them through it. 

Unplug and Recharge

In addition to the structured wellness programs you incorporate, don’t be afraid to get a little creative and personal as well. “Unplug and Recharge” is an idea that supports employees on an individual basis by championing the wellness practices they want to explore. Whether it’s a two-hour window every Thursday where someone can go for a walk, take a long lunch, read, run errands, or simply unplug, dedicating a period during the week where your teams have the liberty to choose what’s best for them can speak volumes about your commitment to wellbeing and encourage participation in whatever other initiatives you put forward.

Celebrate Employee Achievements

We know you probably already recognized employees of the month before the pandemic—but in 2021, it’s best to take that a couple of steps further. Create a genuine culture of celebrating one another. Encourage people to shout out fellow team members for how they are valuable. Whether it’s in weekly company-wide meetings or smaller daily encounters, carve out time for your people to appreciate one another this year. It matters!

Make Your Office Greener

This may seem a little outside-of-the-box, but the amount of data supporting the benefits of interacting with nature, can’t be ignored. To combat a year dominated by being sequestered indoors, help your employees reconnect by injecting your office space with a little more green. Bringing nature inside office walls with indoor plants (succulents are great options), moss walls, water features, and open windows where feasible, can work wonders and help employees fight back against a year of disconnectedness and separation. 

Wellness ideas like the ones listed above serve as a great launchpad for doing whatever part you can in supporting your team members through difficult times. Beyond just intrinsically being the appropriate response, as the pandemic shifts the dynamic between employers and employees, having a comprehensive employee wellness plan (and having people know you have it) is becoming a competitive necessity. 

Curtis Food Recruiters 

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters has successfully matched skilled job seekers with prominent businesses throughout the food manufacturing and grocery retail industry for over a decade. If you’re searching for your next top performer or need help advancing your career, contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to move your hiring needs forward. 

6 Food Industry Themes To Watch in 2021

2020 made its mark on virtually every industry, and the food and beverage industry was no exception. We now live in the wake of the pandemic, and it’s important to recognize how it will continue to affect our industry.  

Our team at Curtis Food Recruiters sat down to help you identify some defining themes facing the food industry in 2021. Here are a few of the most prominent insights. 

Transparency Takes Precedence

In 2021, transparency will triumph. 

As the industry experts at Grande put it, more than ever, “Consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it was produced, and how it was sourced, making ingredient transparency and a strict chain of custody more important than ever.” 

As consumers become increasingly invested and concerned with where and how their food is sourced, smart marketing messages become more and more critical to get right.

Brands that find innovative, effective ways to make their transparent practices resonate with consumers will stand out from those who don’t.

Plant-Based Trends Accelerate

Plant-forward foods have been making waves for years; that’s not news. But there’s been a marked uptick in average annual growth that is expected to continue through the year.

As Mike Wystrach, Founder & CEO of Freshly states, “2020 showed us that consumers are interested in trying and buying more plant-based foods, as sales of foods like plant-based proteins and milks topped $3.3 billion over the past year.”

Notable brands are already recognizing this massive opportunity. McDonald’s, for example, currently plans to release a “McPlant” later this year in response to the “Impossible” burger that has already made its mark in this space. Additionally, plant-based grocery options are soaring. Pennsylvania-based startup Good Catch, for example, offers a line of plant-based substitutes for seafood like crab cakes and whitefish sliders. 

Appetite for Immunity-Boosting Foods Grows

One of the many reactions to the global pandemic included a growing awareness of the immune system and a desire to help support it through the foods and beverages we buy and consume. 

According to data from The Business Research Company’s Immunity Boosting Food Products Market Global Report 2020-30: Covid-19 Implications and Growth, the global immunity-boosting food products market, due in part to the pandemic, is expected to grow from the $16.31 billion in 2019 to $24.02 billion in 2023. 

Certain categories of food, like mushrooms (lion’s mane, turkey tail, chaga, etc.), are becoming increasingly popular as consumers continue to seek out more and more immunity-boosting options. 

North America was already the largest region in the immunity-boosting food products market in 2019, and experts expect that to continue in the coming years. 

Sustainability 

As we move through the Covid-19 pandemic, sustainability initiatives have and will remain vastly important across the food industry as consumer concern continues to rise. 

People across the globe have long been invested in products that empower them to live more sustainable lives, and, according to Forbes, “the modern consumer prefers sustainable food brands and adds them to their digital and physical shopping carts daily… 65% of consumers look for products that can help them live a more sustainable and socially responsible life.”

While some food and beverage companies were already seriously committed to their sustainability efforts and have been working to reduce their environmental impact before 2020, the pandemic has caused a shift. The coronavirus illuminated social inequality and health disparities in society, and companies are now beginning to consider social and health issues while they craft their sustainability initiatives.

Expect even more scrutiny and attention to be placed on sustainable, resource-efficient and eco-friendly food and beverage practices in 2021. 

Omnichannel Delivery

While hardly new to the food industry, the events of 2020 drastically accelerated the push towards omnichannel delivery; a study conducted by Accosta last summer revealed that more than 50% of consumers were buying groceries online—and a third of those were purchasing groceries online for their first time. 

Grocery stores are reflecting this shift in consumer demand in a variety of ways already from robots gathering grocery orders, smart carts, and cashier-less checkouts. Newer innovations include putting ratings and reviews on shelf labels, downloadable shopping lists, and in-store kiosks that provide answers about meal preparation or other grocery-related inquiries.

An omnichannel approach will be critical for brands to meet the growing expectation for on-demand, flexible and expedient services among consumers. 

Flavor Trends

As 2020 changed the way we lived, it also changed the flavors we sought. Nostalgic flavors served as a safe source of comfort during the pandemic. As a press release from the beverage development company Flavorman explained in December, “the need for comfort has taken on a whole new meaning within the current social and political climate, but flavors continue to provide a soothing constant.”

A desire to relive the tastes and sensations of our more tranquil childhoods led to creations like “smokey vanilla cold brews” and “bubble gum seltzers.” Other traditional favorites like maple, coffee, and butterscotch all saw a significant rise in launch activity, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database. 

Paradoxically, while many sought nostalgic, comforting flavors, 2020 also inspired many to seek out new and adventurous flavors, a perhaps symbolic nod towards a longing for a time when the ability to travel and gather was uninhibited. This desire manifested in a surge in demand for globally-inspired flavors like yuzu, tamarind, blood orange, fig, matcha, and curry.

Manufacturers are helping to bridge the gap between the desire to try new, adventurous flavors and the reluctance to take that risk by combining them with more familiar, “safer” flavors. For example, Rebecca Davis, flavor scientist at National Flavors, explains that you can “combine an emerging flavor, like hibiscus, with a more familiar taste such as ginger to attract consumers who want flavor adventures but want a bit of familiarity to make the first purchase less risky.”

As the pandemic continues to affect daily life, we expect flavor trends like these to persist in 2021. 

About Curtis Food Recruiters 

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters has successfully matched skilled job seekers with prominent businesses throughout the food manufacturing and grocery retail industry for over a decade. If you’re searching for your next top performer or need help advancing your career, contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to move your hiring needs forward. 

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How You Can Give Back this Holiday Season

At Curtis Food Recruiters, volunteering in our community has always been a fundamental core value for us. After such a long and challenging year, our team felt especially moved this holiday season to raise awareness throughout our networks on the importance of giving back. 

It didn’t take us long to single out a cause that we felt was especially vital after the events of this year: food banks. 

The charitable food system is a critical service for people in need in nearly every community across the United States. As financial hardships have increased dramatically due to the effects of the pandemic, hunger is becoming an even more prevalent concern than during the financial crisis of 2008. 

The term “food insecurity” describes when a person lacks consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Today, more than 80% of food banks are serving more people than they were a year ago, and the number of people who are food insecure in the US could rise to more than 50 million by the end of the year, including 17 million children.

Feeding America, one of the nation’s largest anti-hunger organizations, distributed 4.2 billion meals from March through October. The organization has seen a 60 percent average increase in food bank users during the pandemic: about 4 in 10 are first-timers.” 

More than just sharing statistics, though, we wanted to give readers a more involved look at the impact of food banks on their communities, so we reached out to one of our local favorites in our home state of Minnesota: CROSS Services. 

For years, we’ve held CROSS near and dear to our hearts for their incredible service to communities across Minnesota by providing food assistance programs, financial assistance programs, kids programs, and much more. 

We wanted to offer our readers the chance to get to know CROSS a little bit better and, more importantly, the people they work so hard to help.

 

Thankfully, Elizabeth Brown, CEO of CROSS Services was generous enough to sit down with us and answer a few questions:

 

Could you educate readers about the current hunger issues in the community? 

There are several food sites popping up here and there for “short-term” gap-filling, but this is not the work that CROSS does with families. Not having enough food or not being able to pay your rent/mortgage, not being able to put gas in your car to get to work…These are just the result of so many other areas of need.  

Many people have lost jobs they have held for years; their entire industry is damaged in some cases and they might not have a job to go back to. As an example, one family came in with this situation:  

Not only had they lost their job and needed food and housing help, they feared there was no option to go back into that industry. Our Family Resource Manager provided the food, the housing support, and then connected them to a free job counseling service. The father stopped in last week to thank the CROSS staff person and let him know that he was starting a new job in a new industry this week. It’s never just about hunger – hunger is the sign that much more help is needed. This is where CROSS steps in to be that connector.

Could you clear up any confusion about the types of people who receive help through your organization? 

Many people needing services during this time are new to asking for help. CROSS is seeing many families never before needing these services.  

60% of those coming to CROSS are working at least one job (many working more than one job); even during a “normal” time in our world, it is very difficult to stay ahead of rent/mortgage, transportation costs, health insurance, and raising children.  

Many people making even $17 per hour, which is a good wage, have no funds left each month after just paying for housing, transportation, and child care so they can work. This is where CROSS comes in to help families through with more than just food and housing. We provide the connection to the community and to other resources, here at CROSS and across our region.

 What’s the best way for people to donate?

There are a lot of great options to give. It could be through a cash donation, or volunteering your time; no amount is too small. Look at your charity’s website for preferred options for donating. In addition to traditional methods, many are using technology such as Venmo, Square or Paypal to make giving as easy as possible. In Minnesota, you could also go to GiveMN.org which allows you to find and support various charities all from one website; look for similar organizations in your state for online giving.

Is there anything else you think is important to know for people looking to give back this holiday season?

The holiday season is traditionally stressful…I heard one mom say that it is just MORE of everything.  You have to do everything you have always done to survive, and during the holidays, it’s just MORE…Leaving people tired, frustrated, poorer, and more anxious…In this time of “just MORE” we need to also have MORE patience, MORE faith, and MORE care for others.

CROSS will continue to do our work as faithfully and compassionately as we always have. We are grateful and dependent on the community for allowing us to do this work for families in our community.

——

 

For more information on how a donation to CROSS can help Minnesota families in need, take a look at their website here. To find other food shelves in your area in Minnesota, use this helpful tool

 

The impact of organizations like CROSS depends largely on donations and volunteers from their communities. To find a local food bank near you, follow this link. 

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5 COVID-Related Insights From Food Quality Assurance Executives 

As a food industry-focused recruiting firm, we have witnessed first-hand some drastic changes in the food manufacturing and retail worlds over the past eight months. After many conversations with food safety industry experts, we felt it would be informative and useful to share some insights from top food industry QA leaders. 

Basic Human Needs Are The Most Important 

We need food, shelter, and water to survive, but these essential life ingredients are often taken for granted. This point was summed up perfectly during an interview with Harry, a Technical Manager of a $2 billion private-label prepared food manufacturer.

“The value of basic human needs is still the highest in human life. When this pandemic was at its peak, people were not worried about their cars, vacations, or luxuries; they were focused on providing food, water, and shelter,” said Harry. “We can be so technologically advanced and can make groundbreaking innovations, but food, water, air, and shelter are still the most important needs we have.”

Hygiene Awareness and Improvement is Paying Off

Food quality assurance executives across the board have unanimously agreed that hygiene awareness has noticeably improved since COVID-19 began. 

Harry also elaborated on the importance of hygiene when we asked him about this critical issue. “We always have struggled to communicate, train, and coach people on the importance of hygiene. Now, people are more aware of the importance of proper handwashing and hand sanitation to prevent cross-contamination.” He went on to say, “The consumer has and will continue to benefit tremendously from improved hygiene practices. If we look at data from March 2020 to now, we’ve nationally seen fewer recalls in the food industry. This pandemic taught us to cover our mouths while sneezing, wash our hands, sanitize our hands, sanitize our kitchens, and it even helped significantly fight the common flu. The number of people with common flu decreased significantly, which is a direct result of hygiene best practices.”

Pre-COVID, there was a perception that you were dedicated and selfless if you came to work sick. Now we see that staying home until you are well can help protect the workforce and the public. 

According to Joan Menke-Schaenzer, Chief Quality Officer at Van Druen Farms,The food safety and quality assurance protocols have always been strong, but now we are more focused on heightened cleaning of high touch areas,” said Joan. “I believe that the temperature and health screening of employees will continue forever. There is a new perception of personal health; we pay people not to come to work if they are sick. This has enhanced the safety of our employees.”  

Empowering the Workforce Through Increased Trust

Trust has always been a critical ingredient for success in virtually every business. During the early stages of the pandemic, most businesses changed overnight. They relied on their workforce to band together to overcome the onslaught of new challenges, including remote work, flexible hours, and more. 

“One of the most significant positive changes is that companies working remotely are getting into the culture of trusting the integrity of their employees and moving away from micromanagement,” said Harry. 

This has continued to play out more and more as companies move away from the traditional 9-5 office culture and replace it with flexible hours. Employers are trusting their employees more than ever to get the job done on their schedules. 

Technology Must Be Embraced

There are several long-standing norms around embracing change and innovation throughout the food safety industry, but since COVID, businesses have had no choice but to rapidly embrace technology and adapt to the new normal to survive today’s economic conditions. 

We asked a trusted Senior Food Safety Consultant in our network about the positive changes they’ve seen due to COVID. “The positive changes I have seen include rapidly embracing technology and adaptable approaches to work,” she said. “I believe shattering these long-standing norms has opened the industry to embrace change and innovation in ways never imaginable. Specific to food safety, we are very fortunate COVID is an enveloped virus and food is not a primary vector. Overall, this issue has opened people’s eyes to monitoring for infectious disease and basic GMPs.”

Embracing technology benefits food safety leaders in many ways. The Senior Food Safety Consultant went on to say, “I hope to see emerging technologies like Ozone/UV combined with traditional technologies to address pathogens and heat/acid resistant non-enveloped viruses for a safer food supply. I see this disruption has caused all companies to look more closely at their supply chain and demand planning systems.”

Speed and Adaptability Are Critical For Growth

Speed and adaptability have always been critical to the food safety industry. With COVID, it’s imperative to evolve at light speed to successfully tackle the frequent changes in food safety measures. 

“The rapid shifts in our understanding of COVID drove almost daily changes in procedures at the onset,” said the Senior Food Safety Consultant.  

“Historically, an emerging trend might require a tweak or procedural change. The early onset of COVID required very rapid (and almost perpetual) risk assessment and implementation. The PDCA cycle time also shifted rapidly.” 

Additionally, many food manufacturing businesses have adapted by establishing close partnerships with local public health officials. 

“At Van Druen Farms, we had the local hospital come on-site to test all 500 employees at no cost to them, and we were given results quickly. I am in constant communication with public health and the local county infectious disease expert,” said Joan. She went on to say “My role is currently incorporating more communication with public health and the community.  We can’t live with blinders on and know that employees are living their lives outside of their work at the plant.  We educate and help make change.”  

In Conclusion

COVID-19 has presented new challenges and paradigm shifts to the food industry. Despite all of the new hurdles, the food industry remains resilient and adaptable, continuously evolving to deliver the highest standard of safety.

About Curtis Food Recruiters 

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters has successfully matched skilled job seekers with prominent businesses throughout the food manufacturing and grocery retail industry for over a decade. If you’re searching for your next top performer or need help advancing your career, contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to move your hiring needs forward. 

* Some of the executives we talked to preferred to remain anonymous or use their first name only.

Opening the Door to an Executive Recruiter

Are you open to a new opportunity? If so, you are in the right place.  

This blog will equip you with actionable tips to help find your next rewarding career opportunity while highlighting the advantages of partnering with an executive recruiter in your hunt.    

Regardless of your situation, you may feel a bit discouraged in your job search. You’re not alone. Nationally, the hiring process has taken a lot longer than usual, with many leadership roles being put on hold midstream until organizations can confidently get through COVID-related challenges.

The good news is the economy is beginning to thaw; it’s just a little slower than we all hoped. But fear not, there WILL be another leadership position coming your way, and a great tip to speed up the job-seeking process is to work with an executive recruiter.

Why Work With an Executive Recruiter?

As a job seeker, there’s a variety of reasons why working with a seasoned recruiter can help streamline and improve your job search, but for the sake of time, we’ll cover two of the greatest benefits: 

  • Broadens Your Network – Very few professionals have a network as vast and as well-connected as a recruiter. Working with a recruiter opens the door to their massive network, giving you a competitive hiring advantage.
  • Partner For Your Job Search – Your recruiter is your hiring ally. They have your best interests in mind and genuinely want to help prepare you with details about the company, role and leadership team.  

What Type of Executive Recruiter Should I Work With: Retained or Contingent?

Understanding the difference between working with a retained recruiter and a contingent recruiter is vital to determine which is best for your unique situation.  

  • Retained Recruiter – A retained recruiter works on an exclusive basis for a client. They typically have a close relationship with the employer and know the culture, the history, and the leadership team. They are focused on finding the right combination of education, skills, leadership style, and contribution to their client’s culture. 
  • Contingent Recruiter – Contingent recruiters are typically generalists who work with various industries and types of positions. They do not often have an exclusive relationship with the employer; the employer only pays the contingent firm once they place a candidate. 

It’s important to note that employers often have relationships with both. In general, contingent recruiters are best at filling junior-level roles and are willing to market your resume to multiple potential employers. Retained recruiters are better suited for senior-level leadership positions that often require a particular skill set. Many of their roles are critical hires, confidential or immediate needs.  

Job Hunting Tips From Our Top Recruiters

With a combined fifty years of experience connecting job seekers to meaningful employment opportunities, the team at Curtis Food Recruiters put their heads together to develop five tips that will help you land your next role faster. 

Get Active in Your Network

It’s easy to take your network for granted while you’re gainfully employed. You might attend an occasional conference, belong to a professional association or have colleagues that you network with, but for the most part, you’re busy with life and work. It is important to continually refresh both professional and networking relationships.  

While 2020 has presented some unique challenges in networking, it’s a great time to pick up the phone and reach out to colleagues you have worked with in the past. People are willing to have those conversations now more than ever. It’s a great way to stay on someone’s radar. 

Additionally, you’d be surprised how many professional organizations are hosting virtual meetings. Be sure to engage in those meetings and aim to be an active participant – it certainly can’t hurt!

Get Social

Take time to be active on social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. This shows prospective employers that you are a thought leader. Write engaging posts, share interests, and interact (liking, commenting, and sharing) with potential employers. Ensure that your social media profile is exactly how you want to present yourself. Consider taking down pictures or posts that do not represent you in a professional way.

Keywords and Key Phrases 

Take a look at your online profiles (LinkedIn, Monster, etc.) and determine what keywords and key phrases a potential employer is using as search terms. To start, review the job descriptions for any positions that you’re interested in. Write down as many keywords and phrases that seem relevant to your next role. 

Now that you have your list, spend some time thinking (and writing down) experiences that you have had. Challenging problems you have solved. Outstanding successes you have had in current/past employers. Write 2-3 sentences that describe the type of position you are most qualified for, and then add the keywords and phrases that are relevant. Adding concrete data and real numbers is a huge advantage, if possible (i.e. “Grew manufacturing sales by 15%”).  

Flexible Resumes

Keeping your resume flexible and making sure it is specifically tailored to the role you’re interested in is critical. There’s nothing that says, “average” to a potential employer more than having a generic resume. Take time to customize your resume for each job application you send. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; simply updating job descriptions and experiences accurately to reflect the relevant position is a great way to show your interest.

Interviewing

You’re likely to have interviews, but they may look a little different. Video interviewing is pretty much industry standard right now, so be sure to have a decent internet connection and proper attire. It’s also incredibly vital to embrace the importance of listening and not over-sharing. Practice and be prepared to speak to all aspects of your career that make you stand out, and be able to explain how those experiences will make you successful in the role you are interviewing for. After the interview, be sure to follow up with a thank you, and if you don’t end up getting the job, ask for feedback – positive and critical. Accept rejection gracefully. 

Using one or all of these tips will certainly help you get ahead. Here’s the bottom line: reach out and connect with people. You never know who knows someone looking for your exact background, expertise and personality. Your recruiting partner is your best advocate, so when in doubt, reach out. Good luck!  

About Curtis Food Recruiters 

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you. 

Recruiting Diverse Talent in the Food Industry: Strategies for Success

Just over 50 percent of food industry professionals are racially diverse, making the food industry the most diverse workforce in the nation. 

However, it has an unpleasant truth. 

That unpleasant truth is the massive representation gap in senior leadership positions. 

As a woman-owned executive search firm specializing in placing talent in the food and beverage industry, we pride ourselves on our track record of over half of Curtis Foods Recruiter’s placements are people of color and females.

This blog aims to share with you five strategies we have learned over 14 years in business to help food and consumer packaged goods leaders hire diverse talent. 

Remove Unconscious Bias 

Before actively recruiting for executive diverse talent, it’s extremely important to understand unconscious bias.  

What is Unconscious Bias?  

Research has uncovered that as humans, we use different sections of our brains to process interactions with people who are similar to us compared with people who are different. Upon first glance of someone different, we have an unconscious tendency to judge them based on stereotypes, appearance, skills and ultimately, whether they should be hired or interviewed.

It’s important to note that experiencing unconscious bias doesn’t make you a bad person. Even the best-intended individuals go through unconscious biases on a regular basis all without ever knowing it.  

How to Reduce it 

Tackling this invisible barrier is not something that occurs overnight, it takes time, practice, and the right tools. The first step to reducing unconscious bias is to recognize when it happens. We strongly recommend reading any or all of these 11 Must-Read Books on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to help. 

In addition, there are several strategies you can deploy now to limit unconscious bias in your recruiting efforts. 

Ensure Your Job Descriptions are not Deterring People from Different Groups from Applying

Determine what aspects of the role are required and what aspects others can bring to the role. Is a bachelor’s degree truly required to be successful in this role? Could prior experiences determine this person’s ability to be successful in the job? Be clear in the job posting which requirements are critical and which are a plus – women are often deterred from applying for a role if they don’t meet all requirements in the job posting.  

Be Strategic with Your Interviewing 

When interviewing, ensure that there are rubrics established for the interviewers to evaluate the candidates against the requirements of the role. Be able to quantify intangibles that come out of the meeting so they can be measured equitably. 

Cultural Competence  

Be aware that some traits may be valued more than others, and some may be misinterpreted (such as eye contact, expressiveness, and close communication for example). Be prepared to ask more questions if the hiring manager doesn’t want to move forward with a candidate to determine exactly what their hesitations may be.

Leverage Sourcing Tools  

Harness the power of an artificial intelligence sourcing tool to intelligently remove unconscious bias so your team can have a bias-free candidate pool. 

Aim for Half of Your Candidates to be Diverse  

The golden rule of recruiting is to simply hire the best possible candidate regardless of race, orientation, gender, and ethnicity.  

The biggest obstacle to achieving this is often when diversity is not represented in the candidate pool. To prevent this, we found that having a goal of at least 50 percent of candidates being from diverse backgrounds is critical to ensure you’re getting the best possible candidate. In our experience, more than half of the time the final candidate happens to be diverse and the best cultural contribution. 

Get Creative with Your Recruiting  

Searching for qualified, leadership-level diverse talent may seem extremely difficult at first, but in reality, it just takes a little creativity and strategy. Here are a few tips collected from our team to help you find your next qualified diverse candidate.  

Network with Diversity Groups 

Join diversity and inclusion LinkedIn groups, attend conferences that attract diverse crowds or cover diverse subjects, and start having meaningful conversations across various networking channels. Here are a few groups we recommend staying in contact with: 

If you’re not having any luck, explore unconventional routes like Reddit, volunteer work, and even community events. 

Ask 

Perhaps the best way to find, engage, and ultimately attract high-level diverse talent is to ask them first-hand where they spend their time. Interview diverse employees, families, and friends to see where they go online and how you could better reach them. Odds are good they would be more than happy to help you on your mission to hire more diverse people. In addition, referrals from diverse hires or employees tend to be more diverse.

Campus Recruiting / Career Fairs 

Attend career fairs in diverse neighborhoods to better connect with the community. Explore campus recruiting programs as a source of talent to build a leadership pipeline for the future.  Even better, offer scholarships and internships to diverse communities as a way to signal your commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Partner with a Search Firm 

Some of the industry’s largest and most qualified diverse talent pools are generally located within the database of recruiting agencies and search firms. Many businesses looking to build up their diverse workforce often partner with search firms to find, vet, and hire diverse talent.  

Consider Relocation 

Another obstacle that plagues most hiring managers looking to bring on diverse executives is recruiting in areas with homogeneous demographics.  

We totally get it, there are definitely many areas throughout the nation with a low percentage of diverse citizens. To help combat this, we often encourage candidates to look outside their comfort zone and consider a new adventure in a new city. Additionally, with COVID-19, many jobs are now able to be remote, which greatly widens the search.  

Champion a Culture of Inclusion 

Diversity and inclusion are one of the top three priorities for nearly every business in 2020 but it’s so much more than just hitting D&I numbers and goals, it’s about building a culture with a foundation of inclusion. When senior leadership is motivated by constructing a culture that is focused on diversity of thought, that is when the door can be open to a more inclusive culture. After all, only 55 percent of global employees feel that their employers were making efforts to build a more inclusive culture.  

Leaders need to be a part of the conversation and take active steps to help the entire organization understand and leverage everyone’s differences. Here’s a few examples of tangible ways your business can build a foundation of inclusion that will attract top-tier diverse talent.  

  • Design a mentorship program that encourages and helps grow women and diverse employees within the organization. 
  • Establish a diversity and inclusion committee that makes sure everyone feels included in the conversation.  
  • Survey employees and ask how your company can better build out a diversity and inclusion foundation. Be prepared to enact changes to meet the employee’s needs. 
  • Clearly define the values of your organization and ensure leaders are accountable to upholding those values.     
  • Ensure that you are developing and advancing the career of diverse employees already at your organization. 
  • Review your interview process over the last year or two and determine where candidates in underrepresented groups have fallen out of the process. Determine where improvements to the process could be made.

We genuinely hope you found this blog helpful on your quest to hire more diversity in executive positions. It’s our sincere goal to help employ more diverse and qualified talent in the food industry. If you have any questions or need any help around hiring diverse talent, we’d love to connect! 

About Curtis Food Recruiters 

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best diverse talent on the market.

A Guide to In-Person Interviews During Covid-19

*This article is merely food for thought. Please follow your state and local guidelines.

We are all well aware of how greatly COVID-19 has impacted our day-to-day lives. While we strive for a return to normal, we know that our in-person interview process will require a “new normal.”

Companies are still hiring, and many roles cannot be filled without an on-site interview. Begin by determining the roles where an offer can be comfortably made through video interviews and which roles truly require an on-site interview.

The following are a few suggestions for employers on how to conduct those interviews as safely as possible and keep your candidate and staff feeling comfortable with the process.   

Gone are the interviews full of handshakes, office tours, lunches, and dinners.

Unfortunately, that also takes away the opportunity to get to know candidates on a more relaxed level and vice versa. Reaching out to your candidates ahead of time and letting them know that the interview process has changed due to the current conditions may help to set expectations and ensure that your candidate understands you’re operating out of the utmost concern for safety.

Even though the “warm fuzzy” will not be there, communicating expectations ahead of time will help prevent the candidate from feeling an emotional distance with you and your company.

Steps to take prior to travel and the day of the interview

Before your candidate travels, know that they may have a level of anxiety regarding the unknown situation they are walking into, especially if they’re traveling from out of state. Try to calm that feeling by letting them know specifically how your company will be handling safety while they are interviewing.

  1. Closely monitor for symptoms

Candidates should be asked to monitor their health and surroundings and self-assess prior to travel as well as the day of the interview for symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, etc.). If they are experiencing symptoms, have been directed to self-quarantine, or have been in close contact with anyone in the past 14 days that tested positive for COVID-19, they should notify the interview team and the interview should be rescheduled.

  1. Provide a detailed agenda

Let your candidate know ahead of time who they will be meeting with (include titles) and for how long. Give them details around how breaks will be taken and what facilities will be available to them. Also be sure to provide information on the interview space and your distancing protocols.

  1. Prepare resumes and other items

Make sure to email your interview team a copy of the candidates’ resume that they can print out on their own, in order to help avoid spreading germs. In addition, notify the candidate to bring their own resume, mask, water, and snack if appropriate.

Walk them through the process so they know what to expect

Here are some examples of how you can handle safety during the interview:

  • When your candidate arrives at the facility, let them know that you will greet them without using handshakes.
  • Ask the candidate to wash their hands prior to the meeting.
  • Ensure that everyone the candidate interacts with is wearing a mask and be ready to provide the candidate with a mask if they do not have one.
  • If you need to use an elevator or stairwell, let them know this ahead of time and instruct them that they will be using the elevator alone, or plan on single spacing when using the stairs.
  • For groups, try to meet in a larger or more open conference area.
  • Prior to the interviews, set up tables in a circle, horseshoe, or other format to ensure that people are spaced appropriately apart, yet are still able to see and hear each other clearly.
  • Try to limit the number of people in the group interview to only those that are essential. Consider breaking into two or more interview groups if needed.
  • Have doors propped open when possible.
  • Make disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer readily available to everyone before and after the interviews.
  • Ensure that surfaces throughout the facility are being cleaned and disinfected at regular intervals. Schedule breaks after each interview to sanitize all surfaces in the interview room, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, etc.
  • Ask everyone to wear masks until they are seated at a comfortable distance from others in the interview room.
  • During plant or retail store visits, keep all talking to a minimum and reserve questions until afterward.
  • Provide a virtual tour of the facility wherever possible. Include detailed photos and consider incorporating a virtual guide to give it more of a personal touch.

Don’t forget to follow up with the candidate

Request that the candidate keep you informed if anything changes in their health up to 14 days after your interview.

In addition, consider having each of the interview team members send a personal email to the candidate, especially if it’s someone you decide you want to hire. This will provide a more personal touch and an opportunity to build those individual relationships. If you really want to impress your candidate, consider sending a note or even some company gear to their home.

Final thoughts

We wish you much luck as you navigate these challenging times. Planning ahead and considering all the details of the interview day will provide a level of comfort for the candidate, help your interview team, and ensure a successful interview process while helping keep everyone safe.

Happy hiring!

For more ideas on hiring strategies during these uncertain times, be sure to read Adjusting Your Hiring Process Amidst COVID-19 and Improving Your Hiring Process: How to Keep Candidates from Walking Away.

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best talent on the market.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gratitude, Giving & Growth

During these chaotic times, it is more important than ever to make sure we are walking through the world with a grateful heart. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t feel disappointed or grieve the loss of our old routines or cancelled events, quite the contrary is true. By developing an appreciation for even the most difficult days, we appreciate the joyous ones that much more.   

We have found great insight in Annie Meehan’s webinar “The Joy of Missing Out” which focuses on three core principles: Gratitude, Giving & Growth.   

  1. Gratitude – what are you grateful for today? Did you have the privilege of waking up to a loved one or job that you’re passionate about? Did you admire a beautiful sunset or enjoy dinner with your family? This helps you shift your mindset to notice even the little things that are worth celebrating every day.  
  1. Giving – what did you give away today? A compliment? Advice? A kind note? This takes gratitude a step further into true generosity – from self-focused to selfless. Make it a point to do even just small acts of kindness every day. This will not only deepen your relationships, but it will create a more meaningful life. 
  1. Growth – what did you learn or how did you grow today? Did you attend a seminar? Did you watch a TED talk? Did you invite a new neighbor for a virtual coffee date? This takes generosity to the next step – Having a full life is not just about who you are today, it’s also about developing who you want to become. Expanding your universe intellectually, socially, or professionally brings gratitude full circle, allowing you to recognize appreciation for your circumstances that you may not have otherwise.   

We hope you all are surviving this chaos with as much gratitude, generosity & growth as possible!  

If you want to learn more visit https://www.anniemeehan.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Improving Your Hiring Process: How to Keep Candidates From Walking Away

Every hiring manager has experienced challenges in keeping qualified candidates engaged. In the time it can take to consider all applicants, narrow the field, and prepare an offer, it’s not uncommon for the once-interested front-runner to have moved on to another opportunity. Here are some tips you can implement to keep your best candidates engaged throughout your hiring process.

Prepare for success

Always look for ways that you can take an active seat in the hiring process and drive it forward. From the start, make sure your interview team is on the same page regarding what a successful candidate looks like for the role in terms of skill set, personality, leadership style, past experience, etc. Ensure that the team will be asking the right questions, both culturally and technically. Setting a timeline with action items not only helps the team make a timely decision, but lets the candidate know where they are in the process and approximately when they can expect a decision. Putting these measures in place upfront will help set the stage to be able to move towards a decision quicker.

Find the obstacles in your process and address them

Does your talent acquisition process take four weeks or more? If it does, many of your applicants may grow frustrated and ultimately move on. The following are a few common obstacles to a smooth and timely process:

  • Are quality applications trickling in too slowly? Try increasing your visibility by getting your opportunity out through new channels, such as job boards, professional recruiters, LinkedIn connections, networking, etc.
  • Are you spending too much time on in-person interviews? Try narrowing down the field with less time-intensive methods such as phone or video conferencing interviews. In addition, keep in mind that you don’t need your entire department to interview each candidate. Determine who has the most valuable insight and trim out the rest.
  • Are there long delays in getting interview feedback? Scheduling a follow-up meeting or hard deadline for feedback will keep the timeline on track for all parties involved, including the candidate.

Consider what the candidates may want

Your interview process – for better or worse – defines how your company will be perceived as a whole. If you make the interview process all about your organization’s wants and needs, your candidates may think working for you will be very one-sided. Make sure you provide ample time to turn the tables and allow the candidates to ask questions.

It’s also important to give them real-life examples of your company culture and what they might expect. What are the best aspects of the role and the team? What aspects may cause frustration? Being honest will keep the candidates that are a good fit for your culture more engaged – and allow for the ones that aren’t to self-select out of the process.

Increase the frequency and transparency of your communication

Check in with your candidates weekly, and not just through email, regardless of whether you have an update for them. A simple, personal reminder that they’re still being considered is enough to keep most job seekers engaged. In fact, 81% of job seekers say employers continuously communicating status updates to them would greatly improve the overall experience.

Using automation tools to set reminders for following-up will ensure that you don’t have any long lapses in communication. Too much time between the interview and feedback on next steps can make candidates anxious, which may cause them to feel that the company is disinterested or raise concerns about the corporate culture of decision making.

In the event that you do not have a concrete update, you could share the following:

  • Update them on where you are in the interview process (conducting additional interviews, coordinating in-person interviews, etc.).
  • Explain extended gaps between interviews (be sure to admit if travel, a company transition, or any other unexpected event has temporarily put the process on hold).
  • Share any significant company news or information that gives them more insight into the company culture.
  • Inform candidates how they can prepare for the next steps.

Create continued interest in the role

Every interaction with the candidate is an opportunity to engage them with the company and get them excited about the role.

  • Include office and/or plant tours either in person or virtually to show off the best parts of working in your facility.
  • Ask the hiring manager to reach out to the candidate(s) directly to keep the level of engagement high, especially if the interview process is taking longer than expected.

Don’t be afraid to make an offer early on

A highly qualified candidate will look just as enticing to your competitors as they do to you. If that person checks off all your boxes, don’t hesitate to aggressively pursue them. Remember, if you don’t, someone else will.

Be willing to negotiate

Salary negotiations should almost never be the reason a top candidate walks away. You’ve put the time and energy into getting them this far along in the process, so don’t throw that all away with an unwillingness to negotiate. If you set expectations up front, you can transform this stage into more of a painless formality than a hostile contest.

Having an experienced recruiter on your side can make this process even easier. A recruiter can discuss salary details on your behalf, provide reference checks, and offer negotiation assistance in the event that any counter-offer situations arise.

Partner with a premier search firm

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best talent on the market.

Adjusting Your Hiring Process Amidst COVID-19

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has brought business challenges unlike any we’ve ever seen. Many companies—and even entire industries—have been temporarily put on the back burner, while others have been asked to do everything they can to meet demand.

While there is much uncertainty in the world right now, one thing is certain: business must go on—and that includes the hiring process. In order to avoid losing your employment momentum, you need to make certain adjustments. Here are some tips for how to prepare your hiring process during a dramatic change in the business landscape.

Keep your candidates engaged

People are more unsure about the future now than ever before. Don’t give your candidates any reason to doubt the fate of your business or the position they’re applying for. Reassure them by remaining in frequent contact—even if you don’t have any significant updates to report.

Some topics to consider:

  • Hiring status and timelines to let the candidates know where you’re at in the process.
  • Company updates that showcase your current successes in difficult times.
  • COVID-19 precautions your company is taking.

In a time of limited social interaction, it’s far better to err on the side of over-communication and transparency than to allow your top prospects to lose interest and walk away.

Continue to move the pipeline forward

No doubt you have countless other pressing things to attend to, but you can’t let your hiring process become a casualty of this pandemic. Many companies—big and small—have already put their talent acquisition operations on hold. Don’t make this same mistake.

Keep your pipeline moving forward by continuing to look for qualified candidates, conducting video calls with various members of the interview team, and negotiating terms with frontrunners. By doing as much as you can at this stage, you will be in a better position to make an offer when the time is right.

Make sure your video conference technology is in order

With social distancing being strongly encouraged, you’re going to need to find a good alternative to your in-person meetings. Phone interviews might still be your first point of contact, but virtual face-to-face interviews are going to be the next best option. With a video call, you’ll be able to pick up on many of the same social skills, confidence levels, and overall chemistry that an in-person interview provides.

If you haven’t ventured into this realm before, here are some of the most popular video conferencing services:

Whatever service you end up using, make sure that you test it thoroughly before your first scheduled interview.

Be patient and flexible

As a large portion of the population adjusts to working remotely from home, there are naturally going to be some complications. You may not get responses as quickly as you’re used to, and that’s okay. It may also be more difficult to find a good time for a quiet, uninterrupted interview as families are forced to balance the demands of young kids, pets, and shared internet bandwidth.

The key takeaway here is that if you’re understanding of their situation, they are far more likely to be understanding of yours. This will reflect well on your company and make them more likely to want to continue with the hiring process.

Find a search partner you can trust

We are all under greater strain than ever before. Partnering with an executive search firm can ease your hiring burden. They can do the work that you are unable to, usually in a fraction of the time as they have a direct line to the top talent your organization needs. Recruiters are still working hard every day to guide their clients through this challenging situation.

Remember, even though the hiring process itself may feel different at this time, the outcome should still be the same: finding a highly skilled employee and a valuable addition to your team.

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we  partner with our clients to find top talent and fill critical roles. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.