Note: This is the first article in an ISRI News series highlighting the member benefits of ISRI’s Workforce Development resources.

Recycled materials industry professionals have unique opportunities, issues and challenges in the workforce development arena. To assist ISRI members with human resources (HR) needs, the Workforce Development Program was created as a comprehensive, online clearinghouse of best practices and guidance. The ISRI tools can be tailored to fit the human resources needs of any recycled materials organization.

What began as a response to member needs resulting from a 2019 ISRI Town Hall meeting, has evolved into a four-component program, as well as bi-annual member compensation survey. The town hall identified employee recruitment and retention as the most specific industry needs.

Led by Co-chairs Brandi Harleaux of South Post Oak Recycling Center, and Stef Murray of Radius Recycling, ISRI’s Workforce Development Working Group within ISRI’s Education and Training Committee, the Workforce Development Program is designed to meet specific industry needs, as well as overall HR needs.

“Through the working group’s work, members now have access to resources on the ISRI member portal, which includes a model showcasing the lifecycle of an employee, guidelines on how to write job descriptions, and templates for a 30-60-90 day onboarding program,” said Harleaux. “Members can use each of these tools to effectively onboard new talent and use the provided links for alternative sources to find talent outside of typical resources.”

One of the key aspects of the Workforce Development Program is the member-only participation in the bi-annual Workforce Compensation and Benefits survey. The survey is open to all ISRI members and is geared to owners and operators of small-to-mid-size recycling organizations. What makes this survey and its results unique is that it is completely industry-focused. It is free to participate and only participants can view the survey results. All members are encouraged to participate in the upcoming April 2024 Workforce Compensation and Benefits survey.

“The tools created by the Workforce Development Working Group are very important for members who are struggling to fill critical positions and/or who need assistance with various human resource items such as job descriptions or determining competitive compensation,” said Murray. “I view it as ‘Human Resources in a Box’ and our goal is to package the tools in that manner.”

The program is broken down into four components to help industry professionals manage and develop their workforces:

Workforce Development Talent Sources (Recruiting)

Members can source talent through ISRI educational programs, parallel industries outside of the recycled materials industry, government programs, internet job boards and applicant tracking. ISRI also provides access to resource lists of those with diverse backgrounds, such as Second Chance Programs, veterans organizations, neurodiverse organizations and more. ISRI’s Pathways program provides a talent base to fill positions utilizing internships, apprenticeship, fellowship programs by working with member companies, colleges and universities.

ISRI’s Workforce Management Best Practices in Recruitment and Retention link helps members navigate through online sites such as,, and to effectively recruit and retain employees. There are also resources for specialty recruiter sites such as for environmental, health and safety positions. Organizations that have a human resources information system (HRIS) with applicant tracking can maintain a record of sites and agencies used in recruiting practices, and note which have been most successful.

90-Day Onboarding Program (Retention)

ISRI recognizes the importance of a strong onboarding program and provides a 90-day template to tailor to specific organizations to explain why what new hires do is important. The program template is broken down in three, 30-day segments for employers to follow for success in retention.

Guidelines for Developing Successful Recruiting Programs

In any organization, developing a successful recruiting program is essential. ISRI’s Workforce Development offers guidelines that assist members in knowing what types of talent to seek, finding local partners and developing methods for recognition that ensure success.

Guidelines on How to Write a Job Description

Crafting a job description that is clear and thorough is essential to attracting the right talent to the right positions. Members have access to ISRI guidelines that make developing job descriptions effective and consistent.

ISRI members can expect to see added features and content to the tools available on the website, as well as more information on participation, and results, in the upcoming 2024 Workplace Compensation and Benefits Survey.

Workforce Development Tools