When COVID-19 hit in the spring of 2020, nearly every industry was impacted, with production and manufacturing being hit especially hard. Demand for many products slowed, and if one company faced an outbreak, it could lead to extreme disruptions across a supply chain. However, ORBIS Corporation, located in Bardstown, took on these challenges, remaining open and avoiding layoffs. At ORBIS, our leadership team decided to use the pandemic to improve employee benefits and new hire opportunities. As plant manager of ORBIS, I’m honored to share the practice we put into place to help other companies across the region.
Our team quickly realized it needed to reevaluate its processes by looking for innovative ways to draw in new employees, expand benefits and build team morale. We understood individuals were facing more than employment challenges, so we wanted to do our part to make their work-life as stable as possible.
We made a major change to attract new talent by offering six-hour shifts with a set schedule working either Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. This new schedule attracts a workforce we have not targeted in the past. It works well for parents with school-age children, college students who need to work around a set class schedule and high schoolers seeking work-based learning opportunities. We have had success in hiring for the six-hour shifts and even had an employee who is now working full-time on our twelve-hour schedule.
We knew that we needed to show potential employees that ORBIS was a company they could trust. We hosted virtual job fairs, created a Facebook page, set up a table at the Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail (KCC-LT) and offered various ways for individuals to apply and interview. We also increased our sign-on bonus and added an hourly incentive for evening shift applicants.
With the pandemic adding to everyone’s daily stressors, ORBIS leadership made sure all employees were familiar with the mental health care options available for them and their families. We did this through informational meetings and posting about these services throughout staff spaces. We also partnered with local restaurants and franchises to provide boxed lunches for employees wherever possible. Some of our most popular offerings included Spoony’s, Chick-fil-a and local food trucks. Additionally, because ORBIS is classified as an essential business, we made sure to thank all of our employees with an end-of-year essential bonus for their hard work throughout the pandemic.
Another benefit of working at ORBIS is that we encourage employees to continue their education and support employees with up to $5,250 per year in education reimbursement. Last year we were able to congratulate 12 of our employees on completing their associate’s degrees. From industrial maintenance to engineering, electrical hydraulics to logistics and quality, ORBIS employees excel in a wide range of fields, and we are always proud to watch their growth.
The majority of our employees who have earned these degrees have done so through the excellent associate programs and technical certifications available at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC), which hosts top-notch programs right here in the region.
Additionally, for our employees or those in the area seeking to improve industry skills before entering the manufacturing field, we cannot recommend KCC-LT enough. They are a fantastic resource for matching individuals with the best education programs for their needs and will help secure scholarships whenever possible. They are also excellent at pairing employees with employers and have matched us with many great new hires.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about ORBIS and our current positions, visit our website (orbiscorporation.com), Facebook page or KCC-LT for available opportunities. We also host walk-in interviews Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. We would love to have you on our team!
Joe Ashley is the plant manager at ORBIS Corporation in Bardstown, Ky and a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.