This is the second in a two-part series looking at local job market with hundreds of job openings across all sectors, yet initial unemployment claims continue to rise. It’s a growing concern as local companies say they are not able to grow without staff. Click here to read Monday’s feature.
On our Facebook Group: An updating list of job opportunities — and those seeking jobs.
By Natalie Simms
With hundreds of job openings and few applicants, local industry leaders are getting in creative to find new ways to reach potential employees. From signing and retention bonuses to job fairs to billboards, businesses are trying everything to attract candidates.
Jennifer Cole, Human Resources manager at F&P Georgia, says her company is using multiple staffing agencies to fill some 20 immediate openings.
That step is something “we have never done before and we have North Georgia Staffing onsite,” she says. “We currently have 400 full-time associates and 70 temporary employees. After so many hours worked, the temporary employees can transition to full-time if they meet hiring criteria.”
The problem, according to Cole, is the lack of people applying for open position.
“We are seeing maybe two to three a day, whereas before unemployment benefits were raised, we would see 12 to 20 a day. It’s the same across all staffing agencies we use,” she says. “We are having to think outside the box…we are doing direct hire, job fairs and billboards up around town. The staffing agencies are even offering a $250 retention bonus if here for 30 days, which has never been done before. We are also offering direct hires a $50 referral fee.”
To apply, email email@example.com or call North Georgia Staffing at 706-622-6960.
Nick Hann, owner of JWH Transport in Rome, also is having a tough time filling transportation jobs for truck drivers. He currently is trying to fill two open positions but says he is “constantly hiring.”
“I have made changes to the pay scale and incentives trying to maintain staff. We have also been doing more on social media and added billboards,” he says. “We really started increasing our advertising budget for jobs in 2019.”
John Cothran, Operations Manager at Brugg Lifting North America and chair of GREIA (Greater Rome Existing Industries Association), says his company has been trying different option to recruit workers, “from increasing our starting wages to flexible hours and so on. But the applicants are almost non-existent. Sometimes it is weeks before an agency sends an applicant our way.”
David Newby, President and CEO of Profile Custom Extrusion in Rome, says his company has started working with temp agencies this year to fill vacancies.
“We have four temp agencies working with us to fill spots, but we want permanent employees. After working 90 days, temporary employees then become permanent, full-time,” he says.
“We require employees to have high school diploma or GED. We will train and teach the job skills. We do have some technical jobs with an apprenticeship program. The rewards are high once you complete the program with higher pay. We offer good benefits and our pay scale is good…it’s a good wage to build families. We just are not getting people.”
Newby says he believes one group to reach out to are high school graduates who are not going to college.
“We are trying to figure out how to reach those high school graduates that are ready to start work. They can make a good living in available jobs here. We need to get to the schools to let them know there are high paying jobs in manufacturing…not everyone has to go to college,” he says.
“Existing industry in Floyd County wants to grow but we can’t because we can’t find workers. And what about new employers opening…where will they get workers?”
The Rome-Floyd Chamber is well aware of the tough situation many employers are in trying to find staff. Pam Powers-Smith, director of Business and Industry, says she recently surveyed the chamber’s GREIA members and found they are seeing people for more than 400 open positions.
“On the survey, we listed 12 different advertising avenues and asked how many of them they were using to find workers and everyone checked all of them,” she says. “So, HR (Human Resources) professionals are pulling out all the stops and using all advertising avenues to find people.
“I think the other thing, that hasn’t been seen in quite some time, is the bonuses that are being offered just to get someone in the door. For example, healthcare and retirement benefits now start immediately instead of waiting a trial period. Referrals are being paid with cash. These are definitely interesting times.”
In recent months, the chamber has been trying to reach non-traditional workers to help meet needs.
“We’re trying to tackle every direction and work to meet the needs here. We are doing a lot of connecting and reaching out to non-traditional employees like those that were formerly incarcerated, some with disabilities that are capable of working and reaching out to our college and career academies to those kids not going to college,” she says.
The next step? The chamber will soon be recruiting for a Director of Talent Development to help tackle workforce issues. Powers-Smith says the job will be advertised soon.