Employee Retention Strategies: Popcorn Day

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Simple Employee Retention Strategies

When it comes to employee retention strategies and creating a better workplace, what works for your business?

It’s 5 am in the morning and Stacy from HR is already at work.

But she’s not behind her desk. She’s popping corn!

We asked the Celpax community to share their best retention tips and examples to learn from each other:

Here’s Stacy Walker, HR Training Coordinator at Koch Foods in Mississippi, USA.

She’s sharing how their Popcorn Days help raise wellbeing at work and reduce employee turnover:


“At Koch Foods we started popping corn on random days for our poultry plant family.

The employees never know when we are going to pass out popcorn. But their senses are heightened on the days we do :)

Keeping your talent

Keeping your talent is a hot topic in the fast-moving, competitive, food industry.

In the Koch office building, they normally have an Employee Mood KPI between 80 to 90% green.

That is, 8 out of 10 managers will normally press the green button as they leave for the day.

So in the office, team morale is high.


Retention strategy examples and actions

Employee Retention Strategies at the Poultry Plant

“We began discussing simple and inexpensive ways to help with employee retention of a poultry plant of 1200 people. This is when we started popping corn”, says Stacy.

“However, popcorn day is everything BUT simple! It is truly rewarding, though.

As simple as a bag of popcorn is, this activity changes the mood of all our employees toward the positive.”

How Stacy’s Popcorn Day works

1. Arrive at the plant at 5am.

2. Start heating up our industrial popcorn machine.

3. Get all the materials needed; oil/butter kernel packs, popcorn bags, and the containers to transport the bags in.

4. I then start by putting the first combo kit into the kettle and just continue to do so for the next 6 hours. Keep in mind, we have 800 employees to pop corn for :)

5. I then start to bag the popcorn and place them in their containers.

Employee Retention strategies for factory workers

Keeping Your Talent

6. At first break, I will take the containers to the break room and pass them out. Then, at the second break (now 2nd processing), I will do the same thing.


“Often, more times than not, employees will begin to smell the popcorn in the early hours and come pay me a visit for a healthy breakfast!

It provides a snack when some may not be able to afford it.”


Keeping Your Talent, retention ideas and strategies

And how’s the employee reaction?

Koch Foods, founded in 1973, is an international poultry processor. They deal in fresh and frozen offerings.

It’s a privately held company with 13,000 employees across their corporate office, processing locations and distribution centres.

When Stacy and her team in Mississippi start passing out the popcorn, sometimes new employees start to ask, “What is this for?“.

“And we simply say, ‘Just to say thank you!‘ The genuine smile the employees give is very rewarding.”, she explains.

“Other things we hear from our employees is that ‘The plant has never smelled so good!‘, ‘I can’t wait till our next popcorn day!‘ or ‘See, they DO care!’


It shows employees we care

“It does the most simple but yet the most important thing. And that is showing employees we care! We believe they are people and not just robots.”

“We have received support and encouraging messages verbally when they begin requesting Popcorn Day. And if for some reason, they are absent on Popcorn Day, they express frustration :)


Popcorn Day

Simple Employee Retention Strategies


Stacy says the event helps improve social texture at the poultry plant, which improves the company culture.

They also typically don’t have this employee-oriented incentive on a Friday.


In order to add more positives to other days of the working week.

Related: Are employees 10% happier cause it’s Friday? Or is it the Waffle Fridays?

“And you know your employees enjoy it when they start to ask, “When is our next popcorn day?“, the HR Training Coordinator concludes.


You can always do something

At Celpax we see many blue-collar sites where they don’t just measure the employee mood in the office, but also in the plants.

Like at this company where 91% leave work having had a good day, for example.

Of course, some industries are harder than others. Some sectors have very tight margins and tough competition.

But the popcorn event at Koch Foods in Mississippi shows that you can always do something for your people. And you can always make that “something” bigger!

It’s nice to see intents in sectors like this.

We hope their business will expand the continuous improvement concept to their poultry plant workers, to increase the employee morale :)


Interested in Employee Retention Strategies and keeping your talent?

With our Celpax device, you can cross-check your employee morale with your Employee Retention KPI. 


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Rebecca Lundin, CelpaxHej! I’m Rebecca, co-owner at Celpax. We use simple tech tools to measure and boost morale at work so you can keep your talent. And build a better society while at it! Let’s talk Employee Retention Strategies on Twitter!
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