Workforce issues are front and center

The concern around workforce recruitment and apparent labor shortage has heated up the last few weeks. Recognizing hiring and staffing as one of the top issues facing the business community, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau scheduled panel discussions, starting Tuesday morning with the Chamber’s Tuesday Talk, and then a half-day session specific to hospitality and seasonal hiring on Thursday, organized by the Visitor’s Bureau.

These challenges are widespread and other organizations are also responding to provide resources and education. This past week, the Business Council of New York State held a session on “Talent Retention Strategies.” While great focus of the workforce conversation is placed on talent attraction issues, it is equally important to think about talent retention. Statistics offered during the training indicate one in three employees are looking to leave their current position, and some predictions about the labor shortage overall show it may not subside for about seven years. Boiled down, it’s easier and better to retain and grow your talent within, if possible, rather than losing them and having to deal with the challenges of finding and training new employees.

Retaining and recruiting employees is no longer solely about the compensation package. Businesses must examine their company culture, and luckily many improvement opportunities can be around policies and procedures with little expense attached. One item to consider is developing an employee value proposition if you don’t already have one. Again, this is not a compensation package, but a statement or document which outlines how the company values their workforce, and the value which each employee provides to the company, community, and world through their work. Another option is to conduct what are known as “stay interviews.” Everyone is familiar with exit interviews, but if you’re conducting one of those, the employee is leaving and it’s too late. Stay interviews can be conducted periodically asking just a few deliberate questions to get a sense of each employee’s satisfaction in the company. It also may raise awareness of challenges they’re facing and open a dialogue around changes you can make to address their concerns before they reach the point of leaving.

These are just a few ideas covered by the Business Council this week. The overarching point is that the labor landscape has changed and is changing, and businesses who are open to feedback and change will struggle less than their peers in many areas, workforce included. We encourage all employers to attend one or both of the upcoming local sessions to get some additional helpful information about hiring, and keeping, a strong workforce. The Small Business Development Center is partnering with both the Chamber and CCVB on these upcoming informational programs. Register for Tuesday Talks online at www.chautauquachamber.org or for the CCVB workshop contact communications@tourchautauqua.com.


The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce has a flurry of Business After Hours events this spring! Fresh on the heels of a successful event this past week in Bemus Point, we are pleased to offer Business After Hours at Pearl City Hops at the DoubleTree in Jamestown, April 13. Designed for local businesspeople to meet in a relaxed setting, enjoy some appetizers and a cash bar, and network with others, our Business After Hours events have grown in popularity in the past year. We encourage all Chamber member businesses to attend – no matter what type of business you have – and also encourage non-members to sample the event to see what we have to offer.

Business After Hours at Pearl City Hops is sponsored by Pearl City Hops, Media One Radio Group, The Post-Journal, and OBSERVER. Each Chamber member business can send two people at no cost to each Business After Hours. Any employees above the two-person limit, or non-members, are welcome at $10 each. Advanced registration is not required but is requested for our planning purposes. You can sign up now through the Chamber’s web calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.



The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce State Legislative Breakfast will be held Friday, April 28 at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville. State Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell will be our guests for a discussion session with moderator John D’Agostino from the Observer. We urge you to come prepared with questions for our state elected representatives. Advanced registration is required and is open now on the Chamber’s web calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org.

This event is sponsored by Chautauqua Suites Meeting & Expo Center, Media One Radio Group, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and the Small Business Development Center. Check-in will begin at 8:00am with a buffet breakfast prepared, and the program will begin promptly at 8:30am. We ask that all attendees visit the buffet line before the program begins. The price is $22 for Chamber members or $26 for non-members. Sign up now or save the date and watch our calendar as we confirm venues and dates for many other events in the year ahead!


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