Recap Human Resources Roundtable – 2021 Q1

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On Tuesday, March 9, human resources professionals met for the 2021 Q1 HR virtual roundtable. Hosted by Emily Bowers of BEMA, the panel of HR experts leading the discussion included Susan Potucek, Clif Bar & Company, and Pat Richards of Hearthside Foods with input from the roundtable participants.

Designed to bring those in HR together to share ideas and download what’s keeping them up at night, the roundtable kicked off with the topic that’s on everyone’s mind, recruiting.

Hire and Retain

Like other elements of life, recruiting has become complicated. Tasked with attracting and retaining talent, HR managers are finding themselves in stiff hiring competition with giants such as Amazon and UPS. Evolving business needs, widening candidate skills gaps and growing candidate expectations are sending hiring managers back to the drawing board. COVID, yet another topic on everyone’s mind, has also changed the way candidates engage with employers.

Pat and Susan shared that recruiting today necessitates an understanding of the local labor market and a personalized approach to requisition that will differ from one city to the next. Such efforts must be anchored to the external market with ongoing assessments to internal processes, as necessary.

Building Culture

In a hiring landscape of increased competition, Pat and Susan highlighted the importance of sharing the unique elements of your business and each facility in a way that resonates with candidates. Attracting job seekers could include offering ongoing skills and leadership training, professional advancement plans and rallying around the community through volunteering and visibility efforts.

Clif Bar & Co. has also found success building and engaging around the families of its employees. This includes sending activities home with employees to do with the family to foster supportive engagement and opportunities to give back to the community. The company is also exploring how to engage more women in manufacturing.

Pat emphasized that in building a better culture, it’s important to create connections with employees and verify if the policies and procedures in place are in alignment with the future state of the desired culture. Building a culture must be a top-down/bottom-up approach in order for the efforts to become a point of pride for employees and to be an employer of choice. Employees must feel involved and connected on all levels and leadership must take the time to talk to people and ask questions in order to create a culture everyone can be proud of.

COVID Policies

Despite it being a new year, navigating COVID-related issues is not getting any easier for individuals or businesses. Most recently, the release of the vaccine is finding employers in a very politicized spot. This includes traversing questions about whether or not to require the vaccine, how to demystify vaccine registration policy and fielding the questions and expectations of employers and employees.

To assess this very complicated situation, many are turning to a variety of sources such as employee surveys/pulse checks, partnering with health officials to supply vaccine information, and exploring incentive policies.

With numerous unknowns and ADA and religious ramifications, many companies are choosing to remain neutral, arming employees with information on the options. In the meantime, employers will continue to monitor transmission rates and keep procedures in place to ensure safety and wellness in the workplace.

Stay tuned for the next quarterly HR Professionals roundtable. Submit topics or questions to Emily Bowers at

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