This week, Bob White, Human Resource Manager from Taiyo America, discuss the challenges of keeping, hiring, and managing a workforce during the COVID pandemic.
Dan Beaulieu: Hi Bob, what precautions did you take at Taiyo to make sure people were as safe as possible?
Bob White: The health and safety of Taiyo’s employees are two of the most important things for our organization. Taiyo’s employees are like family, and we all look out for one another. Taiyo followed guidance prepared by the State of Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control. Similar to every other business, we restricted access to our facility. No outside visitors of any kind were allowed inside of Taiyo’s facility. Only healthy employees were allowed to access the facility. Housekeeping measures within the facility were increased to provide frequent cleaning of all touch points. We practiced social distancing, held no large group meeting, and even held regular staff meeting via video. Additionally, employees had to wear personal protective equipment.
Dan: How did the pandemic affect your hiring during the past two and a half years?
Bob: Fortunately for Taiyo, we have extremely low turnover! When we did have a vacancy, we would conduct video interviews first, then the final candidates would be allowed into our facility for a “in person interview” only after a negative Covid test result.
Dan: Besides the people who are remote already, like sales people. Were some of your in house folks work remotely as well?
Bob: Taiyo wanted to reduce our exposure and risk to our production team by requiring everyone with the capability to work in a remote setting to do just that. At the peak of the pandemic, the only employees allowed into our facility were the essential employees who had a hands-on role in the manufacturing and quality assurance of our products.
Dan: I assume you had a hard time filling positions, like everyone else. What unique things did you do to get people to sign on?
Bob: We offered various sign on bonuses, and employee referral bonuses as a way to encourage a steady flow of candidates.
Dan: What about headquarters in Japan? How were they affected by the pandemic?
Bob: The biggest impact to our headquarters in Japan were the periodic closures of all offices due to government-required lockdowns. However, everyone transitioned to a “work from home” environment so the flow of business continued without any significant effect on our North America Operations.
Dan: How do things look going forward in terms of keeping all the positions filled?
Bob: Similar to other businesses in the US, we are seeking ways to automate various functions within our operations. We recognize the shortage in labor assets, and we plan to supplement our long-term trained workforce with some form of automation and robotics.