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DBJ: Colorado employers are reinventing their hiring and retention strategies

When Covid-19 hit and most of the world shut down, Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies ramped up. The Lakewood-headquartered blood-technologies company was the first in the U.S. to offer FDA-approved, life-saving treatment regarding convalescent plasma, and it hired 400 people by July 2020.

One year later, however, as the rest of the world began to return to normal, the international firm found itself bleeding badly. For every 100 people it hired to work in its facilities in Jefferson and Douglas counties, only 30 would stay long enough to complete their training.

Varaprasad Manne, vice president of global quality for the company that maintains some 2,000 of its 7,000 worldwide workers in Colorado, threw out his hiring playbook and tried anything that seemed like it could work. Manufacturing experience no longer was a prerequisite, and the former requirement of two-year degrees for device operation was scrapped to the point that the company was bringing on workers who failed to graduate from high school. It also brought on a third-party recruiter for the first time.

A year and a half later, things have stabilized. A full 80% of the people being hired for Terumo’s new Douglas County plant are sticking around, and the company is learning more about what workers want. Educational and career advancement, mental health benefits and mission-based employment are taking on levels of importance never seen by company officials before.

And while Terumo’s story may seem jolting to people who haven’t worked around the clock to find enough employees there to continue to supply transfusion kits, blood-testing devices and other items of medical necessity to the world, it’s just one of many tales of its kind.

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