Uncovering the ‘Aloha’ attitude

by Dan Malovany
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King's Hawaiian plant
King’s Hawaiian found that hiring people with the right attitude for getting along with others and the right aptitude for learning is often more important than seeking candidates who already have the actual technical skills.

Finding 120 new employees to start up a new bakery isn’t easy. Getting that many good employees — those with good skills and a positive attitude — is even more difficult. That’s the challenge that many bakeries now face, especially concerning proper motivation to get the job done. In fact, King’s Hawaiian found that hiring people with the right attitude for getting along with others and the right aptitude for learning is often more important than seeking candidates who already have the actual technical skills.

When it needed dozens of employees to start up its newest facility in Oakwood, Ga., King’s Hawaiian teamed up with a nearby college to help screen potential candidates to see if they had the right “Aloha” attitude, critical thinking and overall awareness for the job.

“We actually have them pack bread on a mini-assembly line there,” noted Dave Phillips, human resources manager, during a recent visit to the Oakwood plant. “By doing that, we’re able to tell a person’s adaptability to change, how they get along with other people, whether they are a team player, whether they will fit in with our culture and are they having fun doing it — which is one of the keys I’m always looking for. Are they smiling and having a good time, or are they grumpy-faced already? Or are they saying, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this?’”

To teach skills, the college, the bakery and the state’s Quick Start program offer free training in industrial safety, electrical maintenance, mechanical engineering and more. And the bonus is that often, those team members who have the right attitude today end up being the leaders of tomorrow.
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