Linda Kennedy is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Klöckner Pentaplast. Ms Kennedy is experienced on an international level, including Europe, South Africa, South America, and Australia, leading culture change programs and business transformations in large organizations with complex stakeholder management.

What are the challenges HR professionals face while recruiting in a post-pandemic world?

There are currently five generations working, and everyone is seeking something different. After the pandemic, developing an employee value proposition (EVP) that appeals to all the different individuals that you want and need to attract is the most challenging aspect for HR to manage for an organization. The post-pandemic environment is very different from the pre-pandemic environment as a lot of people are changing careers, some are taking early retirement, and there are lots of big competitive offers. While people are seeking employment aligned with the purpose of making a positive impact on the world, companies should find innovative and different ways to attract and engage talent in the post-pandemic world.

Should we outsource HR policies and HR strategies to other organizations?

Outsourcing HR policies to other organizations provides a cost-effective administrative process. The policies that you can outsource are low-risk, administrative processes, value-adding processes, and payroll. HR Strategy is the last thing you should think about outsourcing because the strategy should align with the business strategy that requires a deeper understanding of business. Therefore, one should not outsource strategy. One should outsource service models that are efficient and can be done at a lower level by people who specialize in administration in a cost-effective manner.

How did you incorporate hybrid models after the pandemic in the HR landscape?

The pandemic made hybrid models popular, where employees can work from the office for two to three days and work from home for the rest of the days. Every company had to pivot to ensure that people had the equipment and the capability to work from home with access to tools like Yammer, Slack, Teams, and Zoom to interact. Since Klöckner Pentaplast (KP) is in the manufacturing business, many of our staff have to be in the manufacturing plant. But for back office staff working from home, we encourage the use of the office for meetings and brainstorming discussions because we want the office to be used for getting together, to innovate and collaborate.

“Outsourcing HR policies to other organizations provides a cost-effective administrative process”

How do you manage employee value propositions to align with all the five generations that are working toward impacting society?

Klöckner Pentaplast (KP) has a very strong ESG agenda to produce new products that last longer and are reusable and sustainable. KP's employee value propositions show alignment with the business purpose of making good recyclable and sustainable plastic. This plays an important role in attracting and keeping people who want to make the world a better place and are excited about joining a company like us. We are broadening our offering by trying to offer more choices, like a cafeteria-type approach benefits, with the packages that we offer people when they join us. We are looking to provide flexibility in working hours, better paid time off policies, and retirement plans because people at different stages in their lives want different things, and we try to include all these elements to give people flexibility and a better choice of benefits.

What is your strategy to attract and keep the workforce engaged with the business goals?

One of the main challenges is creating awareness of who we are and what we do since we work in a B2B environment. Hiring is done indirectly, or through referrals, so we maintain good relationships with recruitment companies that represent our company to candidates and help sell value propositions. KP spends a lot of time creating awareness through induction videos, social media, and real campaigns at colleges and universities to drive up awareness of KP that can attract really good people. Sometimes we also use sign-on bonuses to attract people and particularly focus on having women managers in the industry. This combination of awareness and incentivization fills most of our positions. KP has 32 plants globally that follow bottom-up as well as top-down action plans that offer development to keep talent engaged and run annual engagement surveys to improve all the plants across our business. We always value employee feedback to improve the work environment.

Would you like to share any recruiting advice with your peers to help them hire more talented and engaging employees?

To get the best from people, KP follows the approach of freedom in a framework, which means after hiring technically competent people, there is no need to micromanage things. The best thing you can do is give them direction and some guidance, then let them deliver because, without a clear framework, there will be confusion. The other rule that KP follows is no surprises. If something's not going well or is delayed, we flag it so that it can be solved on time and we avoid last minute hitches.