Human Resources

Ask Your Board: labor shortages

Ask Your Board is a new feature that will run in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Quarter issues of Welding & Gases Today. The purpose of Ask Your Board is to ask common business questions that all GAWDA members might be dealing with and to see how GAWDA’s Board of Directors are dealing with these issues within their own companies. To submit a question for GAWDA’s Board Members to consider, please email [email protected] 

THE QUESTION

As the industry is facing a “labor shortage,” what has your company done to combat this issue? How have you found success in recruiting and retaining talent?

 

Bob Ewing

2022 GAWDA President

Red Ball Oxygen Company

We sure don’t have any magic wand. Just a lot of hustle to get the word out and shake the trees for applicants. We are offering referral bonuses, using tons of social media, and working on community partnerships with vocational schools.  We are making sure to simplify and expedite the whole selection and hiring process, so we don’t have good candidates waiting on us for an offer. And we don’t wait until we have an opening to start recruiting. We are always recruiting, whether we have an opening or not.

Robert Anders
2022 GAWDA President Elect
Holston Gases, Inc.

One of the things we tell our managers is to “control what you can control.” External market forces that make the labor situation so volatile are out of our control, but what we can control is how we treat our current employees. It doesn’t really matter if you have a great plan to attract new employees, if you are constantly losing your current talent. Our first focus is retention. 

Like everyone else, we post openings on most of the job search sites, but we have had the most success by interviewing talent referred to us by our current employees. 

Gary Halter
2022 GAWDA First Vice President
Indiana Oxygen Company

Indiana Oxygen has changed our criteria for hiring. It is no longer about looking for the perfect candidate with vast amount of experience in the position that we need to fill. It is now about finding the person that fits our culture and has the ability and willingness to learn the job requirements. We utilize a 30-day check-in process for new hires, which is done with our HR team and their direct manager. This process is an attempt to ensure the new employee has all he or she needs to successfully do their new jobs.

IOC has a new hire orientation program; all the new employees of the company have a day at corporate where they learn about the history of the company, get to know their leadership team, know the company’s goals and future plans and have lunch. Here, they have the opportunity to ask questions and get to speak with other new employees to build relationships and share their experiences with IOC. 

Indiana Oxygen’s success in retaining our talent has been in finding the hidden talents within our people. We work very hard at hiring from within and it works the large majority of the time. IOC encourages conversations about “where do you see yourself in the future?” These conversations are done with their Area General Managers, Managers, Executive Team and through our stay interview process conducted with Human Resources. The bottom line is, through these processes and conversations we certainly hope our people know we care about them, because we do.  

Eric Wood

2022 GAWDA Second Vice President

O.E. Meyer Company

Being an Employee-Owned company certainly helps with our recruitment and retainment. Although, we still face the struggle to keep the pipeline of talent full. Recently, our largest successes have come from partnering with local university business colleges and participating in their job fairs and job placement initiatives. We have had more success with this avenue and LinkedIn than posting jobs on Indeed, where the talent pool seems to have dried. Retaining the new talent takes engagement and for them to feel they’re valued and contributing. We get them involved in training immediately and work to identify and develop their role immediately within the organization. Our biggest risk is losing them if or when they don’t feel that they are contributing and/or utilizing their talents!

Abydee Butler Moore
2022 GAWDA First Past President
Butler Gas Products

Our main recruitment strategy at Butler Gas is word of mouth, and we get all associates involved in helping identify and refer high performers. Great people know great people. We always bump referrals to the top of the pile. For retention, in addition to providing industry-leading wages, we aim to provide an environment where our colleagues’ unique talents can shine, where their ideas are heard, and where they can contribute significantly to a winning team. We believe in a challenging, fun, close-knit work family.

Brad Peterson

2022 GAWDA Second Past President

Mississippi Welders Supply Company

We place a high value on all employees. We treat them with respect and appreciation. We emphasize referrals from current employees with a bonus of $250. We emphasize our family-oriented outlook. We are accommodative to those who want to transition gradually to retirement, ramping down their hours as it suits both them and the company. We stay in touch with candidates who may not “sign-on” right now, but might want to in the future. And we demonstrate that everyone pitches in to get things done…if no one else is available, the boss drives the truck or mans the counter.

Brad Armstrong
2022 GAWDA Vice President
General Air Service & Supply

Employee retention has always been a priority at General Air. From financial benefits, like profit-sharing and tuition reimbursement, to personal benefits, such as the homebuyer assistance program, our strategy for retention is to help our employees improve their lives. With the current labor shortage, not only have we increased our bonus and wage packages, but we have also taken a proactive approach to employee satisfaction. Last year, the HR team engaged a third-party to conduct an anonymous survey, the results of which have led to the implementation of new programs and policies. Listening, rewarding hard work, paying a competitive wage, and helping our staff meet their personal goals have been effective retention strategies at General Air.

To prevent understaffing, we onboarded a full-time recruiter that has bolstered the HR team and streamlined the hiring process. Additionally, we have doubled our payouts for the employee referral program and increased our networking efforts with local non-profit and higher learning institutions. Fortunately, our fundamental value of taking care of our employees as well as aggressive hiring strategies have allowed us to maintain comfortable staffing levels throughout the current turmoil.

Rafael Arvelo
2022 GAWDA Vice President
Equigas, Inc.

We have been blessed to be able to keep our employees and bring in new talent. The first thing is to have a strong communication line with them, to really listen to what they need and what they really want. Many times, they do not know how much they can grow inside of the organization. Small companies, with no HR department, sometimes struggle in communicating these opportunities. Another challenge is creating a development plan depending on their strengths. Last, but not least, nowadays, especially with high inflation and shortages, you must frequently compare the compensation and benefit landscape with other companies in your region and in your industry. Make sure you are in the higher average, depending on the position and how critical it is to the company.

Allie Earlbeck
2022 GAWDA Vice President
Earlbeck Gases & Technologies

We have found that the best defense is a good offense. The best way to retain our top talent is to stay engaged with them to make sure they feel they are valued, and their needs are being met. This needs to be done on a one-to-one basis, as I think COVID brought up a lot of existential thought around the role that one’s career plays in their life. Providing a paycheck isn’t enough anymore. Some are looking for growth opportunities, greater compensation, more recognition, better work-life balance, or flexible hours. It looks different for each person, depending on their stage of life and their personal values. Taking the time to listen and address each person’s needs allows us to stay ahead of employee morale issues and happy employees make the best recruiters. 

Josh Haun
2022 GAWDA Vice President
Haun Welding Supply, Inc.

This is the million-dollar question. We have put a lot of effort into both recruiting and retention. On the recruiting side, we use different websites, depending on the position. Our Marketing Coordinator has helped HR by going through posted resumes to reach out to people along with advertising positions on various social media platforms. We have clarified our job descriptions and produced videos of certain jobs, so candidates have a better expectation for the position and our company. On the retention side, we are working on codifying our company culture and building community among employees. We are trying to do a better job with internal communication and recognizing effort and achievement. In the state we are in, we need to continue to focus energy on both sides of this coin so that people don’t want to look anywhere else for employment.     

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