How to get the best out of poultry processing employees

Staff at the poultry processing plant are a valuable asset. Learn how to create the conditions to benefit the business and its staff alike.

Facilities should be pleasant and well decorated. Employees need to feel proud of where they work. | Eduardo Cervantes López
Facilities should be pleasant and well decorated. Employees need to feel proud of where they work. | Eduardo Cervantes López

Broilers, buildings and machinery are too often the primary focus when looking at how to maximize processing plant yields. The contribution of employees, however, should never be overlooked. Building a high performing team is not simply a question of hiring the right people, they need to be properly trained, to feel part of the company and encouraged to contribute more than what is in their job description.

Finding the right qualities

No matter how rigorous the selection process may be to find new employees, if that process focuses solely on matching an employee to a particular task the employer will be missing out on what a new hire may have to offer.

When hiring, candidates need to be considered in the broadest possible manner, with a balance between their level of education and how suited they might be for any leadership responsibilities -  no matter how small -  they might be required to carry out.

The importance of leadership qualities cannot be underestimated. It is worth remembering that, in today’s workplace, at whatever level, leaders must consistently add value to the business, so workers with leadership qualities become particularly valuable.

Even when a company has succeeded in bringing together the best possible team, if the company is to derive the maximum benefit from it, other challenges need to be addressed.

For example, if employees are to perform at their best they need to feel happy in their roles and that they are part of a culture where everyone works together. New hires and established employees need to feel proud of the organization that they work for. Where interpersonal relationships across the various levels of the company’s hierarchy are concerned, they should be characterized by deep respect, trust and admiration.

To help foster this and demonstrate recognition, photographs of those employees who have achieved significant milestones for the company should be displayed in key areas along with an explanation of what they have achieved. These team members should be held up as examples to the rest of the company, as their recognition will act as an incentive for others to follow suit.

Induction of new staff

Staff should be thoroughly informed of what their new role will be as soon as they start at the company.  

This can be helped by having a well-equipped induction room with examples of the equipment that employees will use daily so that new hires are immediately familiarized with what they will be doing. For operations staff, there also needs to be an area where they can learn about how chickens are reared as well as how they are processed.

All new hires, be they operational or administrative, need to be given an overview of the entire business. They need to understand all of the tasks and processes that are carried out and where they, as an individual, fit into them.

For example, a person in accounting must not only know what happens within his or her department, but they could also benefit from visiting farms and the processing plant floor to better understand the activities that are carried out, and how these might impact quality and yield. To avoid disrupting workflow, virtual visits may be preferable.

Sharing knowledge

Traditionally, new hires tend to receive information relating solely to their new responsibilities. However, those companies that are now world-beating have encouraged employees to think beyond their immediate roles and have developed cultures in which staff are encouraged to think in much broader terms.


A well-equipped induction room will help to familiarize new hires with the equipment they will be using before starting on the plant floor. | Eduardo Cervantes López

Without neglecting their main areas of responsibility, employees should be encouraged to observe and evaluate operations and tasks that impact their primary activity, to find improvements. Once this has been completed, groups of up to four people can be formed to see how these improvements could be implemented. Plans are then presented to company managers and, if deemed worthwhile, implemented.

Keeping employees satisfied can be helped by making their surroundings pleasant. Should circumstances permit, all operational and administrative areas should have music. Studies have shown that the workforce can benefit in a variety of ways, ranging from aiding concentration through to lowering stress levels and blood pressure.




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