Take steps to recruit and retain employees

Christi Sanders

Which Western Slope industry has the highest need for employees right now? Health care? Food service and hospitality? Education? Transportation? In reality, every sector in the region is in dire need of employees —  and job seekers and current employees know it.

What are some of the causes of this situation? Enhanced unemployment and COVID-19 pandemic benefits,  including non-eviction orders and student loan repayment suspension. Uncertainty over schools and daycare. Misinformation about COVID vaccine safety and uncertainty over vaccines for children. And fear of contracting COVID. Moreover, families have adapted to living on lower and fixed incomes.

I could go on, but that doesn’t change where we are or the actions employers can take to improve their abilities to attract and retain quality workers. 

Consider these steps:

Compensation: Employees tend to see only what they make per hour. Educate employees about the benefits they receive as a part of their compensation packages. Employees often have no idea how much you contribute in dollars to the benefits they receive. Spell it out in at least an annual communication. Show your contribution on their pay stub and communicate it frequently. If your compensation and benefits fall below the market average, realize you get what you pay for in a job seeker’s market. 

Accommodation: What can your organization do to accommodate employees who deal with uncertainty about schools and daycare? Consider work from home options for employees as we move through the next wave of COVID just as you did in 2020. Remember that children can’t yet be vaccinated. We could face closures of schools, daycares and businesses. What’s your plan for business continuity as well as employee accommodation should schools close again? Consider, too, the health of high-risk employees who could need to work from home because of their medical conditions. In fact, they could want to work from home for the foreseeable future. Could you accommodate that?

Budget management: Families that learned to live on less during 2020 saved money on such things as clothing, eating out, entertainment, gasoline and more. They watched music lessons on YouTube and found joy in at-home activities they previously never considered. Many people discovered with the high cost and uncertainty of childcare, the compensation they received wasn’t worth the sacrifice of family time and safety.

When the job seeker market is high, employees get to choose what kind of pay they’ll tolerate, what kind of organization they’ll work for and what it means for their overall quality of life. Employees are no longer interested in sacrificing family time, personal development and overall joy to work in a dead-end job where the employer doesn’t care about them or their personal goals and development. If you want to attract quality employees, it’s time to think outside the box. What kind of benefits can you offer outside of the norm? Daycare? Eldercare? Student loan payments? A broad offering of benefits helps show you’re an employer who cares about the needs of your employees.

Vaccine safety: Can you require employees to get the vaccine? The short answer is yes, but you must accommodate legitimate disability and religious issues. Consult your attorney for more information.

Vaccine misinformation: Can you discipline employees for spreading vaccine misinformation in the workplace? Again, the short answer is yes. You can adopt a company policy concerning vaccine information, prohibit employees from discussing or sharing political points of view about vaccines and discipline employees if they violate the policy. However, it’s problematic enforcing that policy. Determine instead your company policy about vaccines, educate management and employees and stick to it unless changes are warranted.

Personal engagement: Do your employees know they’re valued? Employees need to understand their worth to an organization. If you treat them like they don’t matter, they’ll go to another organization. Recognize the things that make employees feel valued don’t cost you much. Employee birthday? Check. Employee hiring anniversary? Check. Met their weekly sales goal? Check. Taco Tuesday? Check. Find a reason to celebrate your employees and help them develop a sense of community.