When it comes to hiring, character counts. That’s why Chicago-based Gold Standard Baking looks for applicants who are dependable, respectful, cooperative, communicative and willing to learn.

“We focus on those attributes, and we tie each of them to individual performance evaluations,” Wally Quednau, vice-president of organizational development, told Baking & Snack for its September issue. “The belief was that if we can bring those characteristics into the building and sustain them, then we will ultimately succeed in all the other things we need to do, which is train them and give them some experience, and they can grow from there.”

To onboard employees, the company relies on Alchemy Systems, an online education program that routinely quizzes recruits during the initial training period and tracks their progress. As a part of its continuous improvement program, the company relies on management expertise, peer-to-peer training and OEMs to offer best practices and tricks of the trade. Ongoing education is vital, especially with workforce shortages in the industry.

“There’s hidden, undeveloped talent in almost everyone as long as you provide a friendly environment, observe and pay attention, and have an employee base within your reach,” Mr. Quednau said.

Finding those employees with the right stuff isn’t always easy. However, word will get around quite quickly if companies create the right environment for all to succeed.