(Beaver County, PA) By guest columnist, Helen Kissick , President of the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce.
CURRENT HIRING CHALLENGES/SOLUTIONS – June President’s Message
The signs are everywhere: WE ARE HIRING! APPLY WITHIN! MAKE A REFERRAL! HIRING
BONUS! etc. Businesses all around us here in Beaver County and elsewhere are working hard to re-open and regain business/customers that may have been parked on the sidelines while we were in the worst of the pandemic. And customers appear to be responding well, armed with money in hand from the savings they were able to accumulate during the pandemic by not spending much, in addition to various stimulus programs by government to help shore up the economy.
There seem to be two significant mismatches as a result:
1. supply chains are strained to keep up with pent up demand and
2. many employers are finding it hard to find workers to hire.
I believe that some of that mismatch will resolve itself with a bit of time (within weeks or months), however I am also personally convinced that we are not simply going back to pre-pandemic ‘normal’. Following are some suggestions as to what employers could/should be doing to make themselves more attractive as a place where a potential job seeker will want to look for gainful employment.
• Streamline work! Stop doing the same-old-same-old. Critically look at all that
consumes time and attention for your employees and see if you can find ways to
eliminate the work altogether. For example: incentivize customers to pay online using
credit cards, so you can stop processing cash and checks. For those familiar with Lean
Manufacturing principles, apply them to your workspace and see how much can be
outright eliminated or made more efficient.
• Job seekers still are held back because of childcare or eldercare challenges. Employers who help their employees solve this issue will be well ahead of the curve. This could bein the form of providing on-site access to such care, or providing funding for such care, or having flexible work hours that can accommodate care needs. Look around near your workplace and see if there is a service provider for child or elder care who is able to set up a customized solution for your workforce.
• Outsource the work! One of our Chamber members has found ways to contract work
with an agency located elsewhere in the world who has the expertise and time to get
the job done quickly, effectively and seamlessly. I realize this may not be a well received answer for those who believe strongly in buying locally, but for a struggling
business, this could be a lifeline that allows them to continue to operate under these
workforce shortage conditions.
• Flexible work arrangements are the name of the game: when possible, let the
employee choose work hours and/or work location.
• Ask your employees: can you make a referral as to who might be a good hire? Pay a
bonus to the employee who made the referral when it results in a positive hire. And
pay a hiring / stay on bonus to the new employee given they meet certain criteria (e.g.
have worked for at least a month). Consider giving the same ‘stay’ bonus to current
• Reduce the amount of time the business is open. For example, if the business is
normally open from 8 AM to 5 PM, consider having hours from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM
instead for some or all (think how this may help with child elder care). For a restaurant, instead of offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, switch to only lunch and dinner instead.
• Share employees. Can you share a bookkeeper? Waitresses/waiters? Receptionists? Maintenance people?
• Retrain/upskill employees. If you have a good employee who is eager to learn and
improve their earnings, invest time and effort into training. Here in Beaver County,
there are funding and resources available to help with this! Contact Job Training of
Beaver County for further information. https://jtbc.org/
• Ask your employees! Show genuine interest in what they would like to see to make
their place of employment stand out and a better place to be. And if you think you
cannot afford to make changes upgrade, think twice about the cost of employee
turnover (having to spend time on the recruiting, hiring, training, learning curves, etc.).
• Pay a sustainable living wage! The days of paying the absolute minimum wage seem
numbered for many entry-level positions. With demand outpacing supply, now is the
time to increase wages AND raise prices on the products or services your business
offers. It’s a matter of being able to compete, and if your business doesn’t adjust to this dynamic, you are likely to find employees leaving for greener (=higher wage jobs)
• Ensure your business is doing all it can to keep workers safe/minimize exposure to the pandemic. While our current COVID19 situation is, thankfully, easing, this is not the case for all (think of those unable to get a vaccination). In addition, experts are warning us that other variations of the pandemic may be lurking around the corner. Do all you can now to build resilience into your work processes to minimize potential exposure to future variations or spikes in the pandemic.
I’m sure you have ideas as to what should be tried under these circumstances. Please share them! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions on how to attract and retain a good workforce by July 14th. With each suggestion, we will enter you into a draw to win a Rooted Locally gift card (click on the link below to learn more about this program, where we encourage all to shop locally in Beaver County). And we’ll share those suggestions at the upcoming Beaver County Recovery Summit on July 15th at CCBC plus do the draw for the Rooted Locally gift card associated with this suggestion program.