It's that time of year whenFood Engineeringtakes a few minutes to focus not so much on engineering challenges and operations success stories, but on the people running food and beverage manufacturing plants.

Food Engineering

Many of you who responded to FE's Annual Job Satisfaction and Salary Survey have been working in the food industry for a few decades.

You have seen changes in technology, variations in the size of your staff, and good and bad employee relationships.

After 24 years of reporting on average raises, women's versus men's paychecks, and burned out food industry professionals, this year's survey responses can be summed up in two words: status quo. Food and beverage industry professionals seem to have a lot of loyalty to their companies, but the temptation of a higher salary could easily lure them away.

It makes me wonder if our readers are ambivalent about their careers or maybe after 20 years in the same career and industry, job satisfaction is not so great regardless of your position, salary or motivation level.

With raises at an annual average of 3.5 percent across the US, I can see why most employees are less than thrilled. Most of the increases are washed away by higher out of pocket expenses for health and dental insurance. On the other hand, many employees may be staying the course with their current firms because they know not much else is out there.

Some of most interesting things to come out of our 24th Annual Job Satisfaction Survey are the top five actions employers could take to make our readers more satisfied and efficient employees.

The first action-better benefits-hits the employer where it hurts, right in the pocketbook. The second action-recognition-costs the boss nothing but a few minutes of his or her time. This is the one I find the most perplexing. Most employees want to help their companies achieve success and they take much pride in their work. It is beyond me why more companies and more managers don't take the time to say, "Job well done."

While employees will perform better if they feel they are being paid fairly, a sincere and personal thank you for a job well done a few times a year or better yet, once a month, would go a long way to improve employee morale, efficiency and even the bottom line.

It's so simple, yet so effective. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to achieve.

Wishing you a happy 2005! And before I forget, thank you for reading Food Engineering!

Food Engineering Editorial Advisory Board

Kevin Mellor
Director, Processing Center of Excellence

John Eberle
Innovation Group Manager

Fernando Palacios
Vice President of Operations and Supply Chain
Land O' Lakes

Dave Gemellaro
Director, Sector Engineering
Kraft Foods

Peter Migchels
Director of Engineering, Fresh Bakeries
Maple Leaf Foods

Tom Wolters
Senior Manager Technology
Pepsico Beverages & Food

Carl Krueger
Senior Manager, Global Engineering Services
H.J. Heinz