Tyson Foods is finding success with a flexible scheduling pilot program introduced at several of its poultry plants that is part of the processor's broader strategy to retain workers.
Tyson began testing the flexible workweek in late 2021 and early 2022 at facilities in North Little Rock, Ark.; New Holland, Penn., and Broken Bow, Okla.
The program is receiving positive feedback from participants and has been a win-win for employees and the company, according to Charlie Solomon, head of operations for Tyson. More flexible scheduling programs are being considered at Tyson facilities around the country.
"The flexible schedule pilot, in addition to recent investments in automation, has helped address labor challenges while boosting productivity and operational efficiencies," Solomon said in an email to Meatingplace.
Flexible scheduling arrangements vary depending on the facility. In North Little Rock, employees can work three 10-hour shifts a week and still qualify for full-time benefits. The New Holland, Penn., plant introduced a three-day workweek that includes 27 hours of work and another nine hours of paid time off, plus benefits such as health insurance.
The move to a four-day workweek in Broken Bow follows a successful test of the schedule that launched in January. Maintenance workers are the only team that will not switch to the new Monday-through-Thursday routine, according to a report from KTAL News.
"Not only recruiting our top team members but retaining our team members is important to Tyson," Donna Duggan, human resources manager at the plant, told the news station. As we talked to our team and decided what they wanted to do, that's the reason why we decided to help with their lives, along with our production."
Labor shortages that became acute during the worst days of the pandemic continue to challenge many sectors of the economy, including the meat industry. To keep plants staffed, processors have responded with enhanced benefits ranging from signing bonuses and pay increases to college tuition for employees' children.
At Tyson, more than $500 million has been invested across the company in wage increases and bonuses for frontline workers over the past year. With average hourly pay of more than $18, plus benefits, the company's total compensation for hourly team members now tops $24 an hour.
Tyson has also piloted subsidized and onsite childcare, seven near-site health centers, legal and citizenship support for immigrant team members, a growing ride-share program and education assistance for all U.S. employees.
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