Luz Morales pours herself into creating employee benefits packages that nourish the lives of DYMA Brands employees. The Atlanta-based company is an industry leader in the development and manufacturing of portion control packaging solutions in food service, including liquid and dry condiments and dry-blended mixes. Its innovative product portfolio includes Disney, Welch’s, True Citrus, and private label brands for some of the largest operators in foodservice.
As a vice president of human resources with over twenty years in the food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods industries, Morales understands that satisfied employees drive business results. That’s why she and her team have developed a recipe that bolsters company culture and helps DYMA become the best place to work.
The secret ingredient? “I instill in all my team that we embody a certain servant leadership mindset,” Morales says. “We want our team members to know that the HR is their partner. We’re here to serve them, we’re here to be their resource at the best of times and at the worst of times. We want to answer their questions and if we don’t know the answer, we want to go find it.”
That mindset has been vital to helping the company achieve its highest retention rates yet, amid industry-wide challenges, and to attract and retain talent in a post-pandemic job market. When Morales and her team were initially faced with those challenges, they spent a lot of time working with front line leaders, workers, and stakeholders to reexamine company culture, purpose, and vision. Those deliberations have led to several key initiatives she leads that transformed how the company recruits and retains talent. Several are centered around valuing their employee’s time, ensuring they have schedule flexibility and a meaningful work-life balance.
“We’ve got to make sure that weekends are sacred, that schedules aren’t built in with tons of overtime,” she says. “And, when employees do need to work weekends for a big customer order, its mandatory that we provide them meals. We also give incentives for employees who’ve had perfect attendance.”
Morales and her team have supplemented those efforts with targeted recruiting for seniors who want to return to the workforce, comprehensive wages that go beyond the company’s competitors, and a beefed-up referral program. That’s in addition to enhanced training resources catered to the needs of the modern employee.
“Today, workers aren’t traditional, and that old factory mindset doesn’t work anymore,” the VP says. “Now, you’re not getting someone who maybe came from a factory. You’re getting a mom that was driving a school bus and wants to learn how to package jelly and you’ve got to be willing to be agile and flexible to support that career change for that person.”
Morales also believes part of that includes supporting a person’s mental well-being. That’s why the company started offering employees and all their dependents fully paid mental health benefits this year, giving them access to the support they need on multiple levels.
“When we think about mental health, a lot of times, the stigma of depression or suicide comes to mind and it’s important they have access to support for that,” she explains. “But they also need access to support to address daily stressors, which will make them more effective team members. Things like taking time to reflect and pause, addressing financial wellness, and coaching to prepare you for the next role.”
Morales has always felt a deep need to serve others. While most fourteen-year-olds were outside playing with their friends, she was riding ambulance calls and getting her state license as an emergency medical technician (EMT) on a volunteer first-aid squad. Even then, it brought her joy to be able to help others. Helping patients navigate emergencies, and what sometimes were the scariest moments of their lives, also instilled in the young Morales that she needed to do meaningful work she loved.
She transitioned into a career in environmental health and safety. It gave her valuable experience, but she didn’t always feel like she was helping others. However, the work exposed her to HR projects and show her a path to enriching lives reminiscent of her EMT days, especially after she witnessed the impact previous HR mentors and leaders had on their companies.
“Whether it was a hard conversation or a celebratory conversation, people truly looked at them as leaders, but not because they were in charge,” she says. “It was because they were adding value and enriching their lives. That really meant a lot to me.”
Today, that’s who she aims to be for those she leads. She’s a firm believer in investing in the development of team members just as much as meeting company goals. She always wants to give her employees a chance to advance in their roles.
“When you’re listening, learning, and investing in your team, you’re creating capability and inherently creating a succession plan,” Morales says. “We want to make sure that each and every team member who wants to do the next thing or learn about a new area has that ability.”
Employees have an opportunity to do that and more with a new mentorship program she and company leaders are spearheading.
“We’ve identified folks taking on new challenges, recent promotions, and new projects and how we can support them,” she says. “We’re also developing a model for pairing the right mentors with the right mentees, training programs and what employees should get out of that experience.”
Behar, Gutt & Glazer, P.A. provides highly personalized legal services from its Florida headquarters. Our firm concentrates on several specialties, including corporate law. As DYMA Brands legal counsel, we collaborate with Luz Morales to proactively implement rules, regulations, protocols, and policies to provide the best work environment in the industry.