The initial impact of COVID-19 was not only substantial, but also quick. Companies, particularly those deemed “essential businesses” or “critical infrastructure” businesses, had to swiftly pivot to make changes that were best for their employees, supported their communities, and helped them remain in a stable position from a business perspective. As we have learned more over the course of the pandemic, companies have had to continuously adapt to maintain the safety, security, and success of their employees, customers, and business.
AJM Packaging, a major American paper products manufacturer, has been around for over 60 years and knows a thing or two about lasting through tough times. The company’s response to COVID-19 has not only been swift but resilient, keeping employees safe while fulfilling increasing demand for orders. While many were told to stay home to help stop the spread, essential workers were asked to risk their health to keep the country going with the products it couldn’t go without. Employees working at AJM Packaging were considered essential workers and continued to produce important paper products during the stay-at-home orders. AJM took this responsibility seriously and has done everything in its power to provide a safe and positive work environment for its essential workers. The early response and in-depth changes made by AJM has shown remarkable agility in a time of great uncertainty.
AJM Packaging’s COVID-19 Response
AJM took the pandemic impact very seriously from the start, and has since gone above and beyond to help those working on the frontlines. The company donated more than a million paper bags to Detroit-area hospitals, as well an additional 250,000 to a Houston-based hospital in response to a kind note from a hospital worker, for convenient mask storage to help frontline healthcare workers.
AJM’s COVID-19 relief efforts have also focused on its own employees. The company has put many safety measures into place and established programs that helped support employees during the tough changes that came with the pandemic.
AJM went above and beyond to support employees early on.
Early on, AJM put together a special stimulus bonus to help out employees in highly impacted Michigan areas who showed immense dedication to the company. “We want to show our team that we appreciate the effort they’re putting forth, being present, on time and available for work every day,” said AJM Packaging President Robert A. Epstein. “The bonus of up to $1,000 is based on employee attendance over a ninety-day period.” This huge offering was a bold move for any company during the unknowns of a pandemic. But AJM showed goodwill towards its loyal employees and has continued to reap the benefits of committed workers who are skilled at performing their essential jobs within the large company.
Epstein noted that the AJM team of essential workers provided a valuable service that should be recognized. “In spite of the challenges we’re facing together right now, we continue to be inspired and motivated by the resilience of our employees,” said Epstein. “We’re very proud to have been designated a ‘Critical Infrastructure’ company and we are just as proud of our ‘critical employees’ and the courage and commitment they have demonstrated.”
The paper product manufacturer supported the community with COVID hiring response.
As a responsible member of their community, AJM Packaging also hired additional employees into full-time positions. At the onset of the pandemic, AJM committed to add hundreds of permanent positions with full benefits. During a time where many were being let go because of pandemic challenges, AJM maintained a place of stability for the community.
AJM took special measures to ensure new hires were brought in with care, following responsible pandemic protocol. With such a large company, the hiring process could easily bring in a host of new germs. The company showed caution when it came to bringing in new talent to fill the gaps caused by high demand. Some of the COVID-19 changes for the hiring process included:
- Standard COVID-19 screening prior to the onsite interview
- Candidate temperature checks and PPE provided before entering the interview site
- Sanitized interview rooms with increased cleaning measures in place
- Drive-up, outdoor interviews when weather permits
- Plexiglass dividers on interview tables to separate interviewer and candidate
- Phone/video interviews when possible
- Small (reduced-capacity) orientation class to allow for social distancing
Employees at AJM are protected with new protocols.
“The health and safety of our employees has always been our top priority, but it’s been particularly challenging to safeguard since the arrival of COVID-19,” said Robert Epstein. The company included many changes at very early stages in COVID-19 to avoid unnecessary shutdowns and health concerns for employees.
With a large corporation, like AJM, there is a serious concern for increased spread. Since its start in 1957, AJM has grown into an enterprise company that hires thousands of workers across eight manufacturing sites in the USA. These are some of the steps taken to ensure AJM remains a safe place to work:
- Fogging device throughout the facility
- Daily temperature checks
- Touch-free time clocks
- PPE issued daily to ensure lack of contamination entering the facility
- Unlimited PPE to ensure employees have access to fresh PPE
- Hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility
- Plexiglass dividers in common areas (including break rooms, conference rooms and shared office spaces)
- Closed campuses for breaks/lunches
- Separate restroom facilities for truck drivers
- Hourly sanitation in common areas and non-common areas every four hours
- New technology investments to allow for remote meetings
In order to help employees be more aware of concerns around COVID-19 measures, AJM made changes. Some of the things done to help employees consider ramifications for the pandemic included basic signage and literature. The company also:
- Encourages employees with office or corporate positions to work from home
- Records daily temperature checks to note irregularities
- Offers a leave of absence program for high-risk employees
- Calls each person who calls in absent to clarify symptoms before allowing a return date
- Signage on proper sanitation are throughout the facility
With these new processes in place, AJM has shown its continued commitment to its workers and customers, keeping employees safe while keeping up with increased demand for paper products. With the uptick in its business, AJM has found it more crucial now than ever before to focus on these key procedures. Employing nearly 3,000 employees, AJM Packaging is leading the way in responsible company response to the pandemic as a critical infrastructure business.