The Teesside company, which scooped the top award at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards in 2017 and two further awards last year, announced a recruitment drive for its South Bank and Riverside sites in Middlesborough in February.
More than 800 people applied for a variety of jobs, including production line leaders, engineers and quality auditors, and 21 people have now been appointed and have started work.
They include 27-year-old James Robson, from Eston, who has started as a line leader, responsible for overseeing one of the many food production lines at the South Bank factory.
Robson joined SK from another food company in North Yorkshire, but said he was already seeing a big difference.
“In my previous job I was literally thrown in at the deep end with very little induction or support, so it was quite daunting,” he explained.
“Here, before anyone was appointed, we were invited to an open day so we could have a look around the facility so we knew exactly what sort of environment we would be working in. There was then a very thorough induction process and for the first few weeks we were all allocated an existing member of staff so they could shadow and help us settle in.”
Julie Knight, SK Chilled Foods’ Head of HR, said: “We were delighted with the response we received to the recruitment campaign and with the calibre of people who applied. The focus was then to ensure that we retained the people we recruited because in the manufacturing industry, if there is turnover, it tends to happen in the first six months of employment.
“That’s why we held the open day at the two facilities because we understand that food production is not for everybody, so by giving them an insight before they committed to anything at least they could make an informed decision.
“The new training programme we have introduced started with our existing employees and asking them what was missing from their induction and we used their feedback to introduce new things like the ‘buddy’ system.”
SK Chilled Food, which supplies all the major supermarkets, still has 11 vacancies to fill for line leaders.
The company won Food Manufacture Company of The Year at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2017. It also scooped two trophies at the 2018 awards: Chilled Fresh & Dairy Manufacturing Company of The Year – Large Company and the Partnership Award.