Help is BEYOND hard to find | New
Haywood County employers are doing everything they can to find help.
Some have increased their pay scales and offered benefits, but even if someone even accepts the job, several employers have said some simply stop showing up in a few days.
This has led to a reduction in hours or menu options for some restaurants and other businesses that are simply struggling to fulfill their business mission with fewer employees.
Here is a small sample of employers in the county who have shared their experiences trying to hire staff.
During the summer months, the Waynesville Parks and Recreation Center would employ up to 20 lifeguards to operate the pool to ensure it complies with safety regulations.
This year there are only seven lifeguards on staff, three full-time and four part-time, said Rhett Langston, director of parks and recreation for Waynesville.
“We opened the doors for people to start coming in,” Langston said. “Classes fill up, personal training appointments fill up, but the biggest problem is hiring staff. We just don’t see the apps we used before the virus, part time and full time. We have never had this kind of problem before. “
The lack of lifeguards has reduced the water park’s hours of operation to Saturday only, and although the lap pool is open Monday through Saturday, the hours have been drastically reduced.
The city’s board of directors has increased the part-time wages of lifeguards from $ 10 to $ 12 an hour in the hopes that this will help alleviate the staff shortage, Langston said, but in the meantime the Security is always a property and pool hours cannot be increased beyond the recommended one lifeguard per 25 people in the pool.
The water park and pool must each have a lifeguard, he added.
The labor shortage does not only affect part-time employees. His department also has full-time jobs where applicants are scarce, Langston said. This is something surprising as the city has an attractive benefit package that includes health insurance and retirement.
As gyms and fitness centers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 stop rules, Langston said having many rules vaccinated and relaxed is helping bring people back.
“We’re not up to the normal numbers, either for hours or programs, but we’re doing our best given the understaffing,” he said.
Low tide cookie / buttered
At the start of the pandemic, it was nearly impossible to drive through Low Tide, a popular steak and seafood restaurant, during the evening hours and not see the crowded parking lot.
But after only being open for a short time, the popular restaurant closed and hasn’t been opened since. While many have speculated this was due to COVID restrictions, it is no longer the case.
“The only reason Low Tide isn’t open is that we’ve been trying for months to get people to work, but we can’t,” said owner Olivia Vargo.
Vargo also runs The Buttered Biscuit with his family. Although this facility was open, she said it was difficult to find help anywhere.
“You have people who will schedule interviews, and they’ll be in touch for a few days, and then they won’t show up at the time of the interview,” Vargo said.
“A waitress worked one day and never showed up,” she added.
While Vargo seemed happy that at least Buttered Biscuit was open for business, she lamented that Low Tide closed before they could even do some of the things they were looking forward to, like roast oysters. However, she wanted people to know that there is nothing to be afraid of.
“It will open eventually, although it has to be closed all summer,” she said.
Junaluska Lake Assembly
Before COVID, the Haywood County Methodist Conference and Retreat Center was a big employer, especially for high school and college students.
The summer months were particularly difficult as more than 1,200 people were on campus to attend conferences and gatherings.
However, last year’s business model had to change dramatically as group gatherings were banned. But as the rules relax, the Assembly is looking to fill a number of posts. The decision was to hold a job fair in mid-April to recruit employees.
“The job fair generated interest and allowed people to learn more about employment opportunities at Lake Junaluska,” said Ken Howle, CEO of the Assembly. “We were satisfied with the number of people present and impressed by the quality of the candidates. A career fair is an example of how organizations must think outside the box in their efforts to recruit employees. “
Howle said that as the organization heads into the summer and begins to pick up business, finding employees is one of the biggest challenges, not only for the Assembly, but in the region.
JJ Boyd, owner of Ashevillew-based Skyrunner Internet, pays full-time technicians about $ 26 an hour, along with federal mileage rate, health insurance, and a 401k.
The starting salary is $ 20 an hour and benefits kick in after three months.
Yet finding workers is a challenge in this climate.
Boyd said he hires on the basis of eagerness rather than experience.
“I would prefer a voluntary attitude,” he says. “We can train for the rest.”
The broadband realm is wide open, especially with federal and state pressure to bring internet services to unserved and underserved areas of the state.
Skyrunner also employs after-hours support staff who handle customer service outside of business operations – a position that is not difficult to fill, Boyd said, as well as office staff and general workers. , which start at a living wage of $ 15.50 an hour.
By serving a large area throughout the region, employees who work in the field have the added benefit of being paid for their time the minute they leave their home, along with top-notch mileage reimbursement.
“I spent three months doing it last summer,” Boyd said of general laborer work. “It’s not fun, but you have to do it.”
Boyd describes Skyrunner as a millennial company where he strives to employ a team where all work together to build networks in the region.
The sign outside of Country Vittles reads “Gone Stimulus Check, find a job here.”
Owner Judy Miller laughed when asked if she was having trouble finding enough people to fill all the available jobs.
“We’ve had a recruiting problem for the past four to five years, but it’s definitely the worst now,” she said.
Miller also noted that, in addition to being closed from March 26 to May 22 of last year due to the pandemic halt, she had managed to stay open and said the people she had worked with had kept the ship afloat.
“I was very lucky with the help I got,” she said.
But while Miller said the last year or so has brought in some of the best deals she’s seen in her 25 years of ownership, more help would still go a long way and she hopes to hire six more employees.
“We need cooks, dishwashers, cashiers and waitresses,” she says. “We need everything.”
Joey’s Pancake House has long been a breakfast staple in Maggie Valley and Haywood County.
However, soon after the restaurant became a new owner, the pandemic struck, and now restaurants in particular are struggling to find reliable employees. Fortunately, the creperie’s business model allows it to better withstand the temperature of the store.
“We’re a one-service restaurant,” said manager Aaron Milling, who owns Father Roy. “It’s a chance for us as far as aid is concerned.”
Even though it is only open daily from 7 a.m. to noon every day, Milling said more help would be needed and admitted it was difficult to find people who want to work.
“It’s really hard to find people on websites,” he said.
Milling said he understood that some people who worked in restaurants could earn more out of unemployment and said his staff were almost entirely different from what they were before the pandemic.
But Milling said he always feels lucky to have the people on his team and noted that their hard work has kept the wheels spinning.
“We were lucky with the people who came and wanted to work hard,” he said. “(Former owner) Brenda (O’Keefe) has done a great job of building Joey’s up reputation, and it has helped those looking to work here.”