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By David Alford, Vice President of Bristol Associates, Inc.

Bristol Associates, Inc. recently published the second Food and Beverage Manufacturing Survey Results. The survey serves as a resource for professionals to share their experiences and opinions about their workplace and the industry as a whole. This year’s questionnaire, which was conducted in the first quarter of 2022, consisted of questions related to employee satisfaction, workplace preferences, and industry challenges. After surveying over 500 food and beverage manufacturing professionals, these were the findings.

Hiring concerns remain prevalent in the industry

Since the first survey in 2020, Availability of Labor/Hiring Enough People has remained the top concern for industry professionals. While 70% of employed respondents believe they need to increase staffing in the next year, 73% of hiring authorities report facing recruitment challenges at their companies.

In fact, six out of ten employers believe their biggest hurdle is finding qualified people to fill open positions. The top three reasons for the hiring struggle are:

  1. Not acquiring enough applicants, coupled with lack of interest in the job opening
  2. Candidates losing interest in the position, or receiving another job offer during the process
  3. Not paying enough for the role

Food and beverage professionals’ outlook for 2022

Employee satisfaction improved slightly for industry professionals across the board. Additionally, 88% of professionals are optimistic about the future of their careers, a 16% rise since 2020.

Despite the improvement in satisfaction, employees are still open to new opportunities in this candidate-driven market. The findings reveal that for employed respondents:

  • 65% would seriously consider a reasonable offer of new employment
  • 60% are confident in finding a better job elsewhere
  • 52% express interest in leaving their present employer within the next couple of years
  • 41% report actively searching for a new opportunity at the time of the survey

Professionals are also more open to relocating for the right opportunity. Three-quarters of professionals are willing to relocate within their current state, region or anywhere within the United States, which is a 14% increase since the first survey.

A shift in career priorities

Respondents were prompted to select their highest career priority, when choosing an employer, among eight options. The results reveal that 34% of professionals prioritize Compensation, 20% Career Opportunity and Growth, 19% Company Culture, 14% Work-Life Balance, 5% Job Security, 4% Location, 3% Paid Time Off and 1% Weather and Lifestyle. However, when broken down by job level, a majority of President/C-Suite and Vice President-level professionals consider Company Culture their highest priority, not Compensation.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in work environments, as hybrid and remote work became standardized for many industries. At the time of the survey only 18% of food and beverage employees were working fully on-site. While only 14% of respondents chose Work-Life Balance as their highest career priority this year, nearly 70% prefer working remotely full-time or part of the time, if given the opportunity. Moreover, employed professionals who work from home part of the time are more satisfied working for their companies, compared to fully remote workers and on-site only employees.

Overall, the participants of the survey are optimistic about their future in the food and beverage industry. Hiring qualified workers remains a major concern – one that has been exacerbated by historically low unemployment levels, coupled with the desire of many potential employees to work remotely. The workforce has changed significantly due to the pandemic, and employers must adapt to these changes to stay competitive. If companies are facing hiring challenges, employers must reassess and improve their recruitment process and work incentives to attract and retain top talent in this ever-changing job market. 

These are just a few findings of the survey. Click here to read the full report.

David Alford is Vice President at Bristol Associates, a boutique executive search firm founded in 1967 that specializes in Food and Beverage Manufacturing. David has been in the staffing and recruiting industry for nearly 20 years, successfully placing executives for companies throughout the United States and Canada.