Help’s available when help’s wanted

Celina Kirnberger

With the latest monthly unemployment rate at just 2.8 percent in Mesa County, it’s assumed that nearly everyone who wants a job has a job. So what are you supposed to do if you need to hire more workers? There are many things to consider and resources out there to help.

Even with a low unemployment rate, people still look for work. Some want to change jobs or careers. Others want to relocate here. Still, others who, for a variety of reasons, haven’t worked for a long time might be lured back into the work force for the right opportunity. It’s also possible applicants you’ve screened out in the past actually could be great employees.

The Mesa County Workforce Center offers a lot of complimentary services to help recruit candidates and get them on board while also saving you time and money. Those services include job description designs and reviews, job postings, job-specific assessments and custom hiring events, to name just a few. For the last program year, the center saved local employers a total of more than $2.6 million through complimentary services.

Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds offer a great resource. There are two options here: a work experience or on-the-job training.

A work experience is similar to having a paid intern. A work experience participant is not your employee. Rather, a participant is paid and has workers’ compensation coverage through WIOA funds to work up to 29 hours a week at your site. The participant is paid a prevailing wage of at least $13 an hour and the experience lasts two to three months. There’s no obligation to hire the individual and the experience can be ended early if necessary. On the other hand, if the person is a good fit, you haven’t spent any money on training them before bringing them on as an employee.

On-the-job training offers another way to save money on a new hire. You hire a WIOA eligible candidate through your normal process and are reimbursed 50 percent to
75 percent of wages for two to three months. This is your employee and you receive money back to offset the costs of training until the new hire becomes a more productive member of the team.

For more information on these programs, visit the website at www.mcwfc.us/business, call 248-7560 or send  an email to jobservice@mesacounty.us.

Another great way to try employees out is through a staffing agency. The agency will handle interviews, screening, workman’s compensation and payroll for a fee. If the person doesn’t meet your needs for any reason, it’s easy to cut ties and move on. If you find a keeper, you can transition them into becoming an employee.

No matter which avenue you use to advertise your job openings, employers should make sure their job descriptions are accurate and highlight all the reasons someone would want to work for the company. This can include traditional benefits, work environment and culture, willingness to train, scheduling flexibility and any other reasons why you or your current employees like working for the company. Also make sure your minimum requirements for the job are the actual minimum skills and certifications needed to start in the position. Don’t eliminate potential candidates by adding unnecessary requirements.

Most important, keep an open mind. You might believe you know what the ideal employee looks like on paper, but it could be far from the truth. People have transferable skills from different types of experiences that could provide them with the right combination to get the job done.

There also could be some benefits to hiring individuals you might have previously not considered. One benefit is a tax credit ranging from $2,400 to $9,600 for companies that have new hires who are low income, have a disability, are veterans, ex-felons or long-term unemployed. For more, visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/wotc.

Still another resource that can help an employer feel more at ease about trying someone out is a program called federal bonding. You can get a free, six-month fidelity bond for a new hire anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 (you decide what amount you need) to cover financial loss due to theft, forgery, larceny or embezzlement caused by employee dishonesty. For information, visit the website at www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/federalbonding.

If you have questions or could use some assistance in finding employees, contact the Mesa County Workforce Center. We love to help.