Employee Retention: Keep ’em After You Hire ’em

Finding the proper people to place in your brewery’s various departments, from bartenders and tour guides, to accountants and night shift brewers, takes planning. It also takes planning to retain the employees you have hired.

Being located in southwestern Colorado could be a challenge to entice some potential clients, but Kelly Schultz of Ska Brewing in Durango said the brewery receives applicants from all over the country along with locals that desire to join in when a job is posted.

“We have a lot of Durango-ans that don’t just want a job at Ska. They want to grow at Ska, create a career and really immerse themselves in our core values and craft beer culture,” she said. “We do our best to give those people as much exposure to the entire operation as we can and we’re able to recruit from within often because of this. …

“We have people coming in with new ideas and processes that benefit our beer and our culture.”

Ska offers all of the typical benefits, such as health insurance, paid time off programs, 401k plans, and paid holidays.

Schultz added that while those are all benefits that are appreciated by their employees, she believes what really sets their brewery apart are the benefits that are tailored to their employees’ personal hobbies and the Ska culture.

“We offer discounted ski passes to our local ski area, free running/bike race entries, weekly yoga classes and group mountain bike rides, discounted gym memberships, various pro deals and more,” she pointed out. “A core value of ours reads, “Hard work and fun are not mutually exclusive”, and we really emphasis this on a daily basis. Our owners live and breathe this value and it really shows our entire staff that we support their decision to take a longer lunch today because you want to get a mountain bike ride in or you’re going to take a day off because there’s fresh powder up at Purgatory (our local ski resort).”

In Chicago at Revolution Brewery, Andrew Cole said a number of the brewery’s benefits are tiered out to reward dedication by team members.

“We contribute more to insurance premiums each year for the first two years, offer additional PTO, and offer an education reimbursement program for employees that have been here for over a year,” he explained. “I’m very proud of our benefits offerings, but we’re constantly evaluating and looking to improve them.

“However, there is no trial period for free beer.”

Jacklyn Rudebeck, who operates HR for Ninkasi said employee retention is always an ongoing battle, especially for larger breweries that know that in some positions, upward movement can stagnate. That means communication is key.

“As we are trying to set and drive our culture and maintain it, the voice of the employees is really important in that process,” she said. “I think it’s it’s never going to be perfect, but I also think that sometimes, as much as we hate to lose a key member, sometimes supporting that may be the right thing for that person is to move on. And if they feel like that’s an OK thing to do.

“Maybe there’s an opportunity for them to come back at some point and bring the experience that they’ve gained elsewhere to help improve our processes even further. Trying to to make sure that we’re embracing people’s professional journey. Loyalty isn’t always the most important thing, if that makes sense. Maybe they can move on and that’s great too.”

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