Regional companies employing creative strategies to attract workers – The Daily Gazette

Whether offering potential employees subsidized housing, tuition reimbursement, or simply a workplace that has no more oil paintings on the walls, local employers have used a variety creative strategies to attract workers in a labor market that strongly favors job seekers.

In the Capital Region, the unemployment rate was 3.2% in July and the labor force was 9,000 less than the labor force in July 2019, according to the New York State Department of Labor. .

Those numbers mean “businesses are struggling to find and attract workers,” said state labor market analyst Kevin Alexander. “A major driver of this is a shrinking workforce, so this is a smaller pool of talent that companies can tap into.”

Therefore, employers need to think differently about hiring and they need to work harder to attract employees. That includes paying higher wages, offering more flexibility in hours and putting more effort into recruiting, Alexander said.

Job seekers say paid time off, higher pay, the ability to work full-time and part-time remotely, and the ability to choose their own hours are the top incentives they wish employers offered, according to the Department of Labor 2022. Results of the Job Seeker Survey, which collected feedback from 8,000 people in New York State.

LESS COMMON BENEFITS

Employers say they’re doing what they can to accommodate those desires, while mixing in less common perks.

For example, Turning Stone Resort and Casino recently spent more than $10 million to build an employee housing village in hopes of attracting workers, according to Joel Barkin, vice president of communications for the Oneida Indian Nation.

The Villages at Stoney Creek offers 50 apartment-style homes that are available to new hourly employees at a heavily subsidized rate. Employees pay $550 for a one-bedroom apartment, $650 for a two-bedroom, and $750 for a three-bedroom, and units include laundry, parking, some utilities, and round-trip shuttle service to Turning Stone.

“It provides a level of flexibility that hasn’t been afforded to hourly workers,” Barkin said. “We think this is really a thoughtful and innovative approach to setting ourselves apart even more from other employers.”

Turning Stone employs approximately 4,500 people and has added more than 400 jobs since January. But, the resort is looking to hire more workers, with needed positions ranging from cooks to table vendors to members of the field crew.

The casino aggressively marketed its vacancies, including hosting an in-person recruiting event in August, which was the first time the 30-year-old resort had hosted an in-person recruiting event in the Albany area, and the qualified candidates received jobs on the spot. Barkin said more than a dozen employees were hired directly from the event, which had about 50 registrants.

DIVERSIFYING RECRUITMENT

Alexander said employers are hiring workers more often at job fairs than in the past.

“We find that many job fairs also become hiring events. So [employers] are looking to secure employees earlier,” the analyst said.

The Capital District Transportation Authority has stepped up its recruiting efforts like never before, according to CDTA CEO Carm Basile.

“Five or ten years ago, we didn’t really do a lot of advertising, marketing or outreach to hire people. People were just coming towards us. This is no longer true,” Basile said. “We can’t sit back and wait for people to come to us. We’re aggressive in getting them, whether it’s social media, job fairs, or partnering with all the different labor organizations.

In results from the state’s 2022 Commercial Workforce Survey, which interviewed 3,700 unique businesses, employers said word of mouth and Indeed are the most popular recruiting tools. more efficient.

Basile said CDTA has a shortfall of around 10% of its workforce. Within this framework, CDTA has a budget of around 450 drivers and is currently seeking to hire around 40 drivers. The CDTA also needs maintenance technicians and support staff, Basile said.

CDTA hosts its own in-person career fairs, where potential employees have the opportunity to ride a bus — with help. After about six weeks of training, someone who has never driven a bus can get a commercial driver’s license and sit behind the wheel of a 40-foot CDTA bus, earning a starting salary of $21.26. Of time. Drivers can earn the maximum rate of $28.35 in a year and a half, depending on performance, Basile said.

JOB WITH COURSE PAYMENT OPTIONS

Hannaford also had to rethink its strategy for attracting and retaining workers, said Margo Peffer, the supermarket chain’s vice president of human resources.

“I would say that this working climate is historic. I don’t think anyone in my role in a US retail organization would disagree. The job market we’re seeing right now is more dynamic and more unpredictable than we’ve seen at any other time in decades,” said Peffer, who has worked for Hannaford for 22 years. “Particularly in the last two or three years, our staff shortages have started to become more visible, more difficult.”

One of the ways Hannaford is trying to cope at the moment is by offering a tuition reimbursement program that provides up to $5,250 in tuition per year. While reimbursement levels vary based on average hours worked, associates working as few as 10 hours per week are now eligible for the benefit. Additionally, eligible Hannaford Associates may also receive tuition discounts if they enroll at partner colleges or universities, including the College of Saint Rose in Albany.

A LOCAL CONNECTION

Other employers have adapted to meet the needs of today’s work climate. After the pandemic began, downtown Albany law firm The Couch White is struggling to recruit, said firm partner Brian Murphy. That’s largely because the business law firm, which employs about 40 lawyers and specializes in energy law, construction law, real estate development, corporate transactions and trust and estate planning, missed candidates seeking employment with companies across the country via remote positions.

As a result, Couch White is reinvesting in its physical office. That means upgrading furniture, technology and decor to make her office a more attractive place to hang out — although there’s no ping-pong table yet, Murphy said. But it also means selling potential employees the value of working for a local company that knows and cares about its employees.

“We make the case that mentoring is enhanced with face-to-face communication,” Murphy said. “There’s something to be said for being able to come into the office and have a relationship with someone who sees you every day, knows you and knows your family history.”

So while Couch White pays top salaries and offers employees the option to work from home in addition to the office, the company is building on its strong office culture, Murphy said. In some ways, it’s an unconventional pitch at a time when so many employers are selling the opposite message.

Alexander, the state’s labor analyst, expects employers to continue to use innovative approaches to finding workers, regardless of those approaches.

“Employers will continue to find creative ways to work with their recruits. They are going to be able to adapt their recruitment and adapt their businesses to meet the demands of workers,” said Alexander. “I think we’re going to continue to see some of the creativity that we’ve seen.”

Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.

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