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Recruiting. How does the packaging sector recruit skilled staff?
Since 2001 Christian Sattlecker has worked for the SIG Combibloc Group. Since 2007 he and his just under 60 HR co-workers have been responsible for global and the respective local HR management. Under his leadership the Human Resources department plays an active role in promoting the Group’s growth.
• Mr Sattlecker, can you describe the ideal co-worker?
First of all, applicants need to have all the technical skills under their belt required by their chosen vacancy. But there is more to it: With applicants we want to feel that they can identify with our values and our corporate culture. We are an SME with international business opportunities – it will definitely heighten their chances if we feel the chemistry is right and the candidate is motivated. Furthermore, job applicants’ cross-cultural awareness and their willingness to work with and in other cultures is of increasing importance − especially for global functions or leadership positions.
• How do you rate the current situation on the human resources market in quantitative and qualitative terms?
The number of applications is declining. Both in Germany and the other countries where we are represented with manufacturing sites or sales outlets. The competition for skilled labour is particularly keen at our locations in the growth markets of China and Brazil where we need high numbers of staff. Needless to say, we also feel the general shortage of engineers – reflected by the number of applicants. Both quantitative and qualitative changes can also especially be found in the applications for our apprenticeship vacancies. At the Linnich location in 2000 we received to the tune of 600 applications for our commercial trainee posts. This figure halved by 2010. Applicants’ skills are also on the decline – especially regarding their college grades and educational careers. It is getting more and more difficult for us to find enough good trainees.
• How does the company respond to this development?
We invest a lot in being perceived as an attractive employer. And by this we do not mean “slick” stands with high-gloss give-aways at graduates’ fairs. SIG Combibloc invests in targeted projects with selected universities that focus their high-quality research efforts on mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, mechatronics, bio-engineering technology and food packaging technology. Such practical cooperations with universities allow us to drive product innovations and incorporate the latest findings into our technical processes, on the one hand, and to “pitch” ourselves as a potential employer to young academics, on the other. Another key here is a continuous improvement process in order to keep our range of starter posts attractive for professionals at all levels of hierarchy.
Requirements have doubtlessly gone up. We need innovative brains eager to perform and deliver, creative and willing to take decisions and that enjoy looking beyond their own backyard. A willingness to move is a basic requirement for this job profile, i.e. employees must be flexible enough to work abroad for a certain period of time in order to leverage their knowledge locally. We have to orient our HR tools like training options and career paths but also the services we offer in a flexible manner to help our staff to cope with these challenges in the best way possible.
• What do you recommend as a means to tie good employees to your company long-term?
A central task of HR is to prepare the workforce for tomorrow’s requirements and to do this at an early stage as an on-going goal. Life-long learning is the prerequisite for this. The demand-driven focus of our training and continuous education options forms an integral part of our HR policy. Everyone is given personal development opportunities, also internationally − e.g. by means of project work or job rotation. Likewise, our feedback-focused corporate culture makes for continuous learning and transparency, a fact that is appreciated by employees. Also important is fair, market–related remuneration.
• What role do Social Media play in your work?
We will push the use of Social Media for our HR activities in future. We intend to increasingly address our job seekers no longer just via the common online job platforms but also in communities where they move due to their special technical interests and skills. We have already selected the Social Media channels that fit our recruitment strategy. For next year we have planned to realise our global Social Media presence.
• Do you personally believe your staff’s social and communicative expertise has changed with the development of digital media?
From my point of view the development of digital media has not changed staff expertise significantly. However, today digital media do make it possible to speed up communication and information delivery and give us more options for addressing candidates. More and more IT skills are required to cope with the tasks and process stages here. The challenge for employees today is to rise to these altered requirements that will continue undergoing dynamic change. To leverage digital media for our company it is therefore all the more important to familiarise especially older members of staff with these requirements by targeted, relevant training.
• Mr Sattlecker, many thanks for the interview and all the best for the future!
SIG Combibloc is a system manufacturer of cardboard packaging and beverage bottling and food filling machines. In 2010 the company generated sales worth € 1,360 million employing some 4,650 staff in 40 countries. SIG Combibloc is part of the New Zealand-based Rank Group.
Find out more at: www.sig.biz