Best Practices in Employee Relations: Hopkins Manufacturing

IRI Podcast Episode on Positive Employee Relations In Manufacturing

In this episode, we continue our look into manufacturing, with a look into the value and delivery of Positive Employee Relations in this industry. Today, we’re joined by Barrie Green, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation! Here, she explains:

  • Key components of employee relations in manufacturing;
  • Common misconceptions about the manufacturing labor force;
  • Common mistakes manufacturing leaders make that can impact employee relations ; and
  • How small actions on the part of leadership can really make a difference in keeping teams engaged!

If you prefer to read along while you listen, we've done all the hard work for you! We listened back to this episode and took notes below, and access is free! 


Positive Employee Relations in the World of Manufacturing

  • Manufacturing is unique from other industries in that it deals directly with the products of many other niche industries, such as plastics, chemicals, and food, just to name a few.
    • The complex and niche nature of manufacturing often requires specialized talent, which can be difficult to find and replace.
  • Positive employee relations are especially crucial in manufacturing because they are the backbone of employee engagement.
    • Improving employee engagement directly improves accountability, productivity and safety. 
  • Open and responsive communication is a key component of building good employee relations in a manufacturing workplace.
  • Another key component of employee relations is mutual respect, regardless of role or level of position.
  • Training and development are essential for allowing employees and candidates to grow within their organization. 
    • As the market becomes more competitive, providing opportunities for employees to grow helps improve talent retention.
  • Lastly, a safe work environment is crucial for employee relations.
  • All of these key components should be part of a comprehensive employee relations strategy, ensuring consistency and fairness.


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Manufacturing: Perception vs. Reality

  • A common misconception about manufacturing is that it’s unskilled labor, and an industry people only enter because they didn’t earn a college degree. In reality, many manufacturing jobs require degrees or some kind of education beyond high school.
  • Manufacturing workers are often heavily associated with unions. In reality, union affiliation in manufacturing tends to vary widely by state, and private industry union membership is in decline. 

The Common Mistakes

  • When leadership lacks an understanding or appreciation for all roles within their organization, it is potentially damaging to employee relations, as employees could feel undervalued or underappreciated.
  • The role and impact of frontline leaders should never be underestimated.

Positive Employee Relations Strategies at Hopkins Manufacturing

  • At Hopkins, one-on-one meetings between HR representatives and employees regarding the employee’s disposition toward their job have helped improve talent retention.
  • Once a month, each Hopkins location does “microtransactions,” or small gifts for each employee, which helps boost morale.
  • Constant updating and revising of their recognition program has helped Hopkins ensure hard working employees don’t go unappreciated.
  • Hopkins has established an attendance policy that holds employees accountable to their roles, but also allows flexibility when life gets in the way.
  • A more flexible structure for scheduling employee hours has helped secure and retain talent, including allowing part-time workers and offering flexibility for unpaid leave during cultural or religious events.

Barrie Green Background

  • MBA in Human Resources from Strayer University
  • BS in Business from Wayland Baptist University
  • She began her career as a Human Resource Manager for Newell Rubbermaid
  • She served as Sr, Human Resources Manager for Post Foods
  • Ms. Green was the Vice President of Human Resources - Horton Automatics for Overhead Door Corporation
  • She also worked as the Vice President, Human Resources for CFS Brands
  • Currently, she serves as the Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer for Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation 



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