Industryweek 4149 Talent

Workforce: The Recruiting Challenge

April 9, 2013
In the battle for top talent, Shaw Industries continually refines its message as an employer of choice.

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer sparked something of a workplace firestorm when word broke earlier this year of her decision to terminate the company's remote worker policy. In addition to angering a group of Yahoo employees, many outraged observers were quick to identify the move as a step backward in an era of growing workplace flexibility. Less vocal were those who supported the decision.

Shaw Industries' Mark Hartline observed the Yahoo goings-on with interest- -- not because he has an opinion with respect to Mayer's decision but because Shaw, too, has a remote worker policy. Hartline, who is the director of talent acquisition at the Dalton, Ga.-based floor-covering manufacturer, says Shaw's 6-year-old remote worker policy has helped the company recruit and retain valued employees. 

See Also: Manufacturing Workforce Management Best Practices

"We believe the remote worker policy is very successful," he says, while noting that not all positions lend themselves to the program. Hartline cites lower turnover and higher engagement as two outcomes of the policy. "We have data that backs that up." 

"We believe the remote worker policy is very successful." -- Mark Hartline, Shaw Industries

More anecdotal are the productivity gains Hartline also believes accrue. Additionally, he explains, the policy has created opportunities to recruit from metro areas when relocating is not an option. 

That said, Shaw's remote worker policy is just one small piece of the company's more comprehensive recruiting effort. "What we are trying to do is fill positions with the right talent in order to meet business goals and objectives, and meet our customers' expectations. We want to be the organization of choice," -- and not just for the short term, Hartline says.

College recruiting is and has long been a significant component of Shaw Industries' talent acquisition efforts. The manufacturer offers both co-op and internship opportunities -- primarily in several engineering disciplines -- as well as an operations management trainee program and sales trainee program. 

"We give students some pretty big assignments. We want to give them work they find meaningful," Hartline explains. "If we are not doing that, we are not being successful."

A more recent but also significant piece of Shaw Industries' recruiting effort is social media, such as Twitter but more particularly, LinkedIn. 

"We have also become more active in looking for 'passive' candidates," Hartline says. "Someone who is not necessarily looking for a job but who has their profile on LinkedIn and who has the skill set and experience we are looking for. We will reach out via LinkedIn." 

Continually refining the marketing message for new recruits is important, particularly for industries that may not be as inherently attractive as, say, aerospace or automotive, Hartline says.

"We have to set ourselves apart, and we continually work on that," he says, with messages that promote Shaw Industries' focus on innovation, sustainability, diversity, vertical integration and more. 

"One key message has been our Shaw Learning Academy. We are consistently ranked in the top 125 training companies, and our learning academy does an incredible job helping associates develop. That's important to the millennial generation."

Hartline says it doesn't hurt college recruiting that Shaw Industries is a Berkshire Hathaway company. "Students may not recognize the Berkshire Hathaway name, but they recognize Warren Buffett's."

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