Retention & Recruiting




A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of being a panelist to discuss retention and recruiting tactics with the Chamber of Commerce and the audience of their What’s Brewing event. The following is an excerpt of what was discussed.

What have you found to be effective hiring tools in your recruitment processes?


The first thing that needs to be dialed in when growing a team is retention. Trying to hire new people while simultaneously losing others is an unwinnable battle. Take a look at who is on the team and what they most appreciate. Use their feedback to guide benefits and programs your company offers.

Next, the recruiting process and everyone’s unique role needs to be defined up front. Creating a smooth, comfortable candidate experience will set your business apart from everyone else.

Putting the right technology in place can make all the difference in the world as well. Text messages, for example, are read within minutes and are much faster than email. Shareable calendars amongst hiring managers can streamline scheduling and make for a quick process.

Outside the box thinking is a boon in the game of hiring. Erika Stohl, HR director for Sunriver Resorts, noted in her discussion that they set aside a significant cash reserve to give out gas gift cards to employees, let as many positions as possible go remote, and they upped their PTO policy to five weeks. Other options that came up were creating an office environment that people want to be in, offering child care benefits or buying employees season passes to Mt. Bachelor.

Lastly, when offers are being sent out, get the whole team on board to celebrate and reach out to the new hire. The more excitement a company demonstrates, the more likely someone is to accept an offer and enjoy working on the team.

How does the cost of living impact the hiring?


When polled, the number one barrier to hiring identified by local businesses was the cost of living in Central Oregon. The data backs it up as well; an average starter home in Bend is over $500k with the median home price hovering around $750k. The median one bedroom apartment in Bend is hovering around $1800/month. Traditional financial advice, spending 30 percent of income on housing, indicates that buying a home requires a household income of $150k or more and renting an apartment requires making over $70k.

The thing that is most challenging for local businesses to overcome is that any job that can be done remotely, will be. Most likely, it will be done for a company outside this area with a larger budget than local companies have. As more people come to Bend with remote jobs based elsewhere, our pool of available employees shrinks. In short, the cost of living here is going to filter out a lot of people and may kill small businesses. One perk that is becoming more popular locally is a housing stipend, paid as an expense reimbursement (not on payroll). Taking a couple hundred dollars off of someone’s rent payment can make a huge difference.

What work flexibility have you seen employers offer or shift to that has helped meet some of the needs and desires of employees?


It’s important to note that inconsistency and flexibility are not the same thing. Having someone just show up whenever they feel like in the name of flexibility doesn’t work for anyone. Having a schedule defined that is offset from the typical 8-4 is pretty easy in most environments. Giving people the ability to work 30-35 hours during the week and making up any extra on weekends is an easy way to give more flexibility. The ability to work a hybrid (partially remote) schedule is the number one most requested perk from employees.

The main concern from most businesses in allowing for remote work is lack of productivity. The easy solution here is to define certain metrics, measure them consistently in the office for a couple weeks, then run an experiment for a couple weeks where someone works from home. At the end of the trial period, compare the data. If it’s the same or better, good. If there is an opportunity to improve, find it and try again before writing it off completely. Put a VPN in place to ensure sensitive data is protected and subscribe to the necessary tech tools to streamline communication.

For parents out there, it’s par for the course that day cares and schools close with short notice (sometimes due to staffing issues). Managers should skip the snarky remarks about “half days” and instead ask what they can offer to support the outbound parent.

How do owners and senior leaders get middle management on board with new policy changes?


This question was posed by a community member that is in a senior leadership role and ready to embrace the necessary changes to attract a younger work force. Their middle management staff has pushed back on changes and is sticking with the antiquated, “this is how it’s always been done” kind of attitude. Ouch

When it comes to getting people on board with changes, the best path is one that gives employees the ability to put their suggestions in the conversation. When people can implement their own ideas, they are more invested than when they are just told what to do. As the senior leader, your role is about defining the problem and guiding the team towards a solution that works. Outline the issue(s) being faced, and let the management team know they have to bring two to three suggestions to a meeting five to seven days away. Give them time to digest the issue and figure out what would make sense to them (and make it clear that doing nothing will make things worse). Host a discussion to cover the ideas, pros, cons and implementation strategy. Ask questions to steer the conversation and avoid taking over to implement your idea. Once the best options are clearly defined, have the team pick a direction.

For more on retention and hiring, check in with GA Rogers.

Quinn Hanson, Division Manager, G.A. Rogers & Associates. Executive Recruiting.

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