Rachael was recently approached by the national press to share how she has tapped into creative methods to simultaneously retain and attract new talent to the manufacturing industry within the Merseyside community.
With a scientific PhD and several business administration qualifications, she is the Managing Director and responsible for the HR function at JJ Smith Woodworking Machinery. She is central to the purpose-driven ambitions for the sustainable and ethical growth of the business.
As a socially conscience and responsible employer, Rachael will admit things do not always go to plan, however, the growth sits firmly in placing its people first.
The business has deep roots starting in an Industrious Liverpool backdrop surviving factory fires, the blitz and even Covid! Established almost 100 years ago in 1923, they are a 4th generation family-owned and managed company and emerged as a Global leader in woodworking machinery production. It’s fair to say if you have sat on a wooden chair… you have probably sat on a product produced by JJ Smith
Woodworking machinery -pride is at the heart of all its people.
JJ Smith’s People Retention Facts:
– Currently, employ 39 people
– Just under half have been retained for more than a decade
– 13 have maintained employment with the business for more than 30 years
– 8 people more than 40 years.
Here we sit down with Rachael on some beautifully crafted wooden JJ Smith-crafted chairs and pick her brains ahead of the Retention Strategies workshop.
Q. What surprising insights within a staff survey have you seen?
For me, it was surprising to see the very different explanations as to why employees felt appreciated at work or fulfilled with their lives. It was reassuring to see the high scores given for both areas which confirm just how important this is to the people who work for us.
Q. How do you ensure your employment packages are attractive?
At JJ Smith one of our core values is “looking out for our people…through training, development and ongoing support” and this approach helps us to provide all-round packages for people. Training is a particular area of focus, and we know that many of our employees have been able to go on courses that they wouldn’t have been able to fund personally, but that have them develop their careers and skills. For other people, the package may involve something specific to their personal circumstances, be that hour of work, what vehicle they drive or whether they work remotely.
Q. What ‘new normals’ do you see for factory workers in the future?
I think increasing levels of flexibility and individuality will be seen in the coming years as the long-term consequences of working patterns following the pandemic are felt. Manufacturing and Engineering are industries in which it is always going to be harder to have the complete flexibility that can happen in workplaces that can be entirely remote, but I think there are a lot of ways in which people can develop what works for them, whether that is time for their children’s school events or different patterns of working at different points in their careers.
In our survey, I also asked, “do you see yourself working at JJ Smith in 5 years time?” – 88% of the people who took part said that they did, which is brilliant. When everyone is thinking long-term it helps everyone to focus on long-term planning and development and helps build a solid stable team.