Viking Plastics Builds Successful Employee Referral Program

By Lindsey Munson, editor, Plastics Business

Business gurus often talk about the view from 30,000 feet – the big picture that provides a look at overall operations. Perhaps, however, the focus should be on the view from 30 feet – a close-up of specific processes and procedures that make an impact now.

With a company culture focused on “continuous improvement” and “building a community,” Viking Plastics is pushing its mission to build a foundation that is defined by – the synergy of its people, processes and products. Viking Plastics is headquartered in Corry, Pennsylvania, with additional locations in Louisville, Kentucky, Jeffersonville, Indiana, São Paulo, Brazil and Suzhou, China, housing over 100 machines across nine global locations. As an injection molding and value-added service provider covering industries of automotive, HVAC and general industrial, Viking Plastics knows first-hand that to have a successful operation there must be a primary focus on the heart of its operation – its employees.

Shining a light on Viking Plastics’ Employee Referral program is Shana Bailey, marketing manager, who coordinates external and internal marketing efforts from social media and email marketing to trade shows and more. She is a key player within the referral program, wearing multiple hats as a leader, content creator, supporter and communicator. In a recent social media post about the referral program, she stated, “Together, Viking Plastics is building a workplace where success is not only celebrated but shared.”

Inspired to Trust
Inspiration can be found at any time, any place and through anyone but it’s how a person or company channels that “inspiration” into an action-oriented goal that there’s growth, change and improvement. Viking Plastics human resources holds a weekly meeting with the management team to discuss several company and operational topics, and two, in particular, continued to be top of the list – employees and new hires.

Through weekly discussions on its employee rosters, open hire lists, new hires and so forth, HR and the management team saw the reality of its current recruitment and retention practices. That’s when inspiration and action collided – because to have a thriving and dedicated workforce, Viking Plastics realized it needed to develop, build and strengthen from the inside out.

Viking Plastics had designed and implemented a referral program a few years back, so the bones and experience of this program were at its fingertips. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Between HR, the management and key personnel – also known as the Employee Referral Program team – began the work to bring the program to life, using what was originally put in place many years ago, with modified parameters and expectations for employees.

Employees across all the facilities were notified and Bailey said, “We started spreading the word! For this referral program to be successful and truly work for the company, it is in the ‘trust’ given to employees that will deliver the results needed to continue building the Viking Plastics community.”

The Referral Program
In the spring of 2023, Viking Plastics kicked off its Employee Referral Program across all its locations. Bailey elaborated on how the referral program works:

A Viking Plastics employee knows a person who would be a good fit for a position, that employee fills out a form and turns it into human resources specifying the “referred candidate.”

The “referred candidate” applies for the position through human resources; then if hired as a new Viking Plastics “referred employee,” the start date is recorded by human resources.

Once the “referred employee” hits 90 and 180 days with the company, the employee and the referred employee are rewarded with a specific amount of compensation for reaching each tenure goal. In addition, the referred employee can earn more compensation by logging in with perfect attendance.

For over 10 years, Viking Plastics consistently has held daily meetings with employees, known as “drumbeats.” Bailey explained, “The daily drumbeat meeting at Viking Plastics is used to communicate between shift changes. Because our company has employees working different shifts, meetings are held at various times each day for 15-20 minutes. Each of our employees attends a daily drumbeat meeting where we share important metrics about our business, share reports of the improvements we make, learn something new each day, and align and interact as a team – an important factor in our success as a lean company.”

With the drumbeat meetings set up to communicate across all facilities and shifts, Bailey said, “This is how we announced the referral program – using the drumbeat platform.” In addition, posters outlining the referral program were hung in high-traffic locations at all the facilities. But most importantly, it is at the drumbeat meetings where Viking Plastics shines the spotlight and recognizes the success of the “referral employee” and the “employee.”

“We make a big deal out of it – with a ‘big check’ presentation to both the employee and the referred employee! It’s empowering and exciting for employees to witness the success of the program, not just for the employees being compensated but for how one can refer a hard-working individual who stays long-term and grows as part of the team.”

A Measure of Success
As a result of the Viking Plastics Employee Referral program, the company over the last year has had five “successful” referrals resulting in the referred employees making it to the six-month mark. Additionally, there are four active referrals in progress and close to the finish line of meeting the expected timeframe within the program.

Through the referral program, there have been many referred employees who have become valuable team members making it past the three- and six-month mark. The referral program has produced a community of talent for Viking Plastics, for example, a referred employee is helping to lead the manufacturing team in its hiring process for entry-level positions; another referred employee manages one of the new cells and wants to learn more so signed up for additional training; and lastly, a referred employee closely worked with the materials team on the IQMS implementation because of previous experience and knowledge in that particular system.

Bailey said, “To measure the success of the referral program, we look to the left and the right ‘seeing’ the program success of those referred employees in action! We’ve hired a shift supervisor, maintenance technician, material handlers and operators.”

The Employee Referral program’s first anniversary is right around the corner, Bailey proudly said, “Viking Plastics is an amazing place to work and it’s the people that have built the foundation. We want to hire and retain great employees, and we trust our employees to help us. It gives meaning and positive reinforcement when employees are part of a strong workplace culture and supporting the community that surrounds them daily.”

For Viking Plastics, its “why” behind the Employee Referral program is simple – shape a brighter future for tomorrow.

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