CAREER GUIDE: Whether it’s the ‘Great Resignation’ or a Retirement Tsunami, Local Employers Face Hiring Challenges | Business


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate fell to 3.9% in December. This number is still slightly above February 2020 levels (3.5%) but down drastically from the pandemic high of 13%.

Despite this, the dropout rate hit an all-time high of 6.3 million in November, leading some to call the phenomenon “The Great Quit”.

“The current job market in most industries looks pretty good,” said Lynn Freid, executive director of Finger Lakes Works. “There are openings everywhere.”

Nationally, the biggest surge in dropouts has come in the hospitality and healthcare sectors, which Fried says also reflects what’s happening locally.

“These were industries in which many people were going home and self-isolating when the pandemic hit. Then it was back to work, back home, back to work, back home,” Freid said. “It had a long-term impact on people coming back to these industries.”

Specifically, many of those who chose to leave health care were people close to retirement, and this is part of the pre-pandemic trend of what Fried calls “the silver tsunami of retirement,” referring the mass retirement of baby boomers.

“The baby boomer generation is aging and retiring, and there are still a lot of those open pockets and hiring needs,” she said.

As for the hospitality industry, some local businesses have managed to maintain full staff throughout the pandemic.

Richard Austin, co-owner of Bella’s Sicilian Ristorante in Geneva, said he has a full staff, which he attributes to a focus on having a reliable team.

“We make sure our staff know we’re counting on them,” Austin said. “However, if it is necessary for someone to be away, they know we have cover for them.”

Another thing, he said: “We compensate our staff very well.”

However, other parts of the hospitality industry, such as winery tasting rooms, have struggled with staffing levels during the pandemic.

“We could have used four or five more people last year,” said Scott Osborn, co-owner of Fox Run Vineyards in Benton.

Erica Paolicelli, co-owner of Three Brothers Wineries and Estates in Fayette, experienced similar issues.

“Before the pandemic, we had no problem finding employees,” she said. “This past year has been incredibly difficult, balancing the demand for visits and the shortage of staff.”

Although manufacturing did not experience the same fallout as other industries, companies in this sector also experienced turnover.

“I don’t think we’ve struggled as badly as the healthcare or retail sectors, but we’ve seen a lot of turnover over the past year and a significant drop in the number of people applying for jobs. positions,” noted Zachary Brooks, head of talent acquisition at GW Lisk in Clifton Springs.

Other manufacturers, including Optimax in Ontario’s Wayne County, continue to grow, but have had to revise their recruiting methods in light of the pandemic.

“It’s been harder during Covid to recruit and get into our pipeline resources,” said Alejandro Mendoza, Optimax’s chief human resources officer. “We had to shift our in-person hiring and recruiting efforts to a hybrid, virtual and on-site approach. We were able to adapt and continue to fill our vacancies with top talent, but the pandemic has surely accentuated some of the efforts. »

Brooks said entry-level openings at Lisk — the easiest to fill, he noted — saw the most turnover, and many longtime employees left for longer pastures. greens in other companies or to change careers. To target this shortage, Lisk increased the frequency of its sharing bonus from annually to quarterly and made new hires immediately eligible for the bonus. They’ve also increased wages and developed in-house classroom training to “help upskill our workforce and provide them with a career path to advance,” Brooks said.

Optimax has not changed its hiring incentives, but Mendoza said the company will continue “to focus on the health and well-being of the workforce. Efforts to improve work-life balance have been and continue to be a priority. »

Some hotel companies have done a combination of the two.

Paolicelli explained that Three Brothers changed its compensation package, increased its salary and even created a new position – hospitality manager – to focus on training and retention.

“We recognize that a lot of the tasting room staff work part-time while supporting another goal, so we’ve created an upbeat environment for them,” Paolicelli said.

Others, like Fox Run Vineyards, stick to proven methods.

Osborn says, “We’re just going to keep trying to hire as many people as possible. We will use social media, online job boards and any other form of advertising possible in the hope that people will apply.

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