It seems like every company in the rubber industry is looking for good people. But how one goes about trying to attract that talent can make all the difference in the world.
Continental A.G. spends a lot of effort to make sure it has a clear statement about what its business is and what it stands for. That was one of the themes Guy Enta, a vice president in Conti's ContiTech Industrial Fluid Solutions business, made during a speech at the recent Hose Manufacturers Conference.
He said Conti centers its message around four core values: Trust, Passion to Win, Freedom to Act and For One Another. While it is important to explain these values to its customers, Enta said it may be even more vital to market those to the firm's employees, including both the ones it needs to retain and those it wants to attract in the future.
Enta said many of the new staff joining Conti are the age of his kids, and they think differently then when he started in the business. They drive community within the organization, have competitions to raise money, volunteer in the community, and care about sustainability and the environment.
Because of these changes—and the competition for top talent—Enta said he and others in Conti are rethinking the hiring process, potentially expanding remote work options. In the past, if the firm had at an opening at its Mount Pleasant, Iowa, factory and the top candidate—the "rock star" in his eyes—wanted to live in Chicago, the company would move onto other applicants. But now, using technology and connectivity, it's more likely they would allow the telecommute and not settle for someone because they were willing to relocate.
A retention technique used at Conti is the "Shark Tank" approach. Enta said Conti has groups of people come together and pitch an idea for consideration. If the Shark Tank buys in, the team has six months to work in a startup environment to develop the idea.
One winning project was the "Sole Whisperer," an insole for a running shoe. It was developed and now the firm is collaborating with a shoe company trying to bring the idea to life. Two members of the team were from the hose staff, because they understood rubber, reinforcement, sensors and how to bring all three together.
Enta said the approach is a win for the company because it gets great ideas, while the employees get a wonderful experience and a reprieve from their everyday job.