ECO-Culture’s major expansion business case

The information and educational portal published an article dedicated to how the problem of personnel shortage was successfully solved by ECO-Culture company. The issue itself was caused by the dynamic business development the holding experienced in the last couple of years.

Recently, Russia’s largest indoor vegetable producer has significantly expanded its capacities in Lipetsk, Tula, and Leningrad Oblasts, as well as in Stavropol Krai. In 2020 alone, the company’s greenhouse complexes and distribution centers hired more than 1,000 new employees.

For the planned production plan to be successfully implemented, the human resources department of the holding had to radically revise the existing approach to hiring personnel in order to modernize this process. Elena Filonenko, the HR Department Head at ECO-Culture, spoke in detail about how that was done.

Paradigm Shift

Elena says, the first thing the company had to do was to completely change its HR management paradigm. Before, HR departments used to reduce the cost of finding employees by outsourcing. This method, however, proved effective only when production at new complexes had to be launched urgently, with employees hired for temporary jobs. On a long-term scale, unfortunately, this approach turned out to be unprofitable.

The reason for that was simple. Typically, outsourced personnel showed increased turnover, meaning that the employees simply didn’t have time to complete the training and reach the performance levels required. In these conditions, meeting the plan required additional hiring, which led to unforeseen expenditures.

Little by little, the company came to realize that the focus had to shift to regular staff. This way, human resources would become the company’s greatest strength. Using this approach, they managed to put into practice an effective system of employee training for those to get acquainted with the job more quickly. More experienced staff members took on the role of mentors. They gradually introduced newcomers to the work process, demonstrating all the practical aspects on the spot. The new paradigm has led to a significant increase in performance and has subsequently become a first-priority one in all of ECO-Culture’s affiliates. In addition, working conditions have been improved, resulting in reduced staff turnover. The new employees immediately began to focus on long-term cooperation, rather than temporary part-time work.

People as the company’s main resource

Elena Filonenko explained that such changes have led to a gradual change in the company’s staffing. Outsourced employees were replaced by full-time workers, who now constitute the backbone of the holding, 85 per cent.

It is still impossible to get rid of hiring outsiders and temporary workers completely. The thing is, new complexes launched in rural areas far from large cities require the company to hire local people. Temporary employees, however, always have a chance to become regular ones, with greenhouses operating year-round and their production volumes only increasing over time. This means that conscientious and responsible regular workers are always welcome in the company.

During the pandemic, when movement across the country was limited, it was only thanks to the local population that the production capacity of certain complexes could be kept at the same level. By creating attractive working conditions and the extensive advertising of the positions available (including on the regional TV), the enterprises have avoided the workforce problem. Besides that, a corporate transport service has been launched for the employees living in remote areas to shuttle to and from work. This measure eliminated the rotation-based employment method, which only allowed people to go home on the weekends.

As a result, a comprehensive recruitment strategy enabled the holding to nearly double the number of its loyal employees. Today, “staff turnover” has dropped to 20 per cent, with some complexes approaching the value of 5 per cent.

The HR Department Head’s conclusion is simple: only professional full-time employees who like both the place of work and the team can produce a quality product.

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