Extra workers are needed every winter tourist season at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Resort & Spa, but this year, inventive minds have turned a standard job search into art.
Using the hotel beach as a backdrop, hotel officials set out ocean blue beach chairs to spell out an advertisement on the sand.
“We’re hiring now. Join us,” read the post.
It’s an SOS-type message, sure, but one that got attention, a few hires, and a nod from Marriott International’s general manager to Singer Island management.
“It’s hard to hire people who want to work in this industry. We have to be creative,” said Roger Amidon, general manager of the Singer Island resort.
With necessity being the mother of invention, some Palm Beach County employers are thinking of innovative ways to attract and retain workers.
Some handed out mid-year bonuses to soften increase in Cost of life. Others have extended work-from-home rules to cut transport costs for their employees.
There isn’t much flexibility when exorbitant housing costs push many people out of the county. In Southeast Florida, including Palm Beach County, the average rent in July was $2,841 for all housing types.
“We’ve had a few employees who really can’t continue to live in the area,” said Christopher Irizarry, chief executive of FoundCare, a Palm Springs-based nonprofit center that provides health care and social services to people. individuals and families from multiple locations across the county.
A medical assistant had been working for a few months but then decided to quit.
“I wanted to see if we had done anything wrong or what we could do differently, and she said, ‘I just can’t afford to live here. I’m moving to Orlando,'” Irizarry said.
Irizarry said FoundCare’s hiring needs are especially critical as the nonprofit rolls out new centers and services to care for residents year-round.
But for the hotel industry, the coming winter months are a crucial period.
Amidon said staffing levels are about 20% lower than they need to be at the Singer Island resort. With a staff of around 235 at present, it still has to rely on around 280 workers to serve the guests who will be staying at the resort.
Already, rooms are filling up through December, including the busy Thanksgiving holiday, Amidon said.
Low Unemployment, Big Staffing Needs in Palm Beach County
Staffing is an issue Palm Beach County businesses have been grappling with for the past year, and it’s not just limited to tourism and hospitality.
Overall, unemployment rates are very low. Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate was 2.9% in July, just a notch above the statewide unemployment rate of 2.8%.
Peter Ricci, director of the FAU hospitality and tourism management programme, urges hotel companies to be creative in filling jobs, including providing accommodation or transport allowances.
Amidon agreed that a stipend may be needed in the future to offset housing costs and attract or retain workers.
Some professional services companies are already developing innovative ways to reduce the cost of living.
Gary Lesser, president of the Florida Bar and managing partner of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith in West Palm Beach, said his company not only gave raises to employees, but also moved to a hybrid work plan. permanent to allow employees to work from home. a few days and save on shipping costs.
“We have no intention of going back,” Lesser said. “We are trying to be a leader on this issue.”
Meanwhile, REG Architects employees in West Palm Beach received a summer bonus to help mitigate the high cost of living, company president Rick Gonzalez said.
The alternative? Losing valuable staff.
In fact, “I lost two people,” Gonzalez said. “One went to Nashville and the other went to the West Coast (of Florida). And part of the reason was affordability.”
More companies could seek foreign labor
To meet labor needs, many country clubs and private clubs are again turning to seasonal foreign labor.
Some 39 hotels, clubs and resorts in Palm Beach County have applied to the US Department of Labor for permission to hire 2,266 foreign workers through the federal government’s H-2B visa program, according to CareerSource.
The H2B program allows employers to bring in low-wage workers for non-agricultural seasonal work. Companies using the H2B program must also provide accommodation for foreign workers.
Marriott’s Amidon said he may consider applying to the program for the 2023-24 winter season to fill seasonal staffing positions.
But again, “it’s about housing,” Amidon said.
Alexandra Clough is a business reporter for the Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @acloughpbp. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.
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