SOLON, Ohio — While companies across all sorts of industries continue to struggle with hiring new employees in 2021, businesses consistently ranked as a "Top Place to Work" shared with News 5 their successes and struggles with hiring during the pandemic.
Whether they found it more difficult to hire nowadays versus pre-pandemic, everyone News 5 spoke with admitted that the job market has become increasingly competitive.
"We’re trying things that we’ve never tried before to get people in the door and retain them at that point," Swagelok human resources manager and hourly workforce development manager Gwen Burg said. Swagelok manufactures valves and fittings.
Inside Swagelok’s Solon headquarters, its plant operations manager pointed out empty workstations that are waiting for new hires to arrive.
"2021 has been unprecedented as far as the challenges that employers face and Swagelok has not been immune to that," said Andrea Zadd, Swagelok director of talent acquisition and HR services. "We’re seeing unprecedented growth and so we’re working hard to help support that need in our organization."
Zadd said the company is dealing with hundreds of openings to help its workforce of 4,500. As a result, the company has increased rewards for referrals, sign-on bonuses, and opened its doors for “interview days.”
"Come learn about us, apply for a job right there on-site, be interviewed and even get an offer the same day," Zadd explained.
The company recently attracted attention from Lt. Governor Jon Husted for its workforce development program with Polaris Career Center, which offers high school students a chance to work toward a career at Swagelok while completing classroom learning at Polaris.
"We are creating jobs in Ohio faster than we can fill them," Lt. Governor Husted said during his November tour of Polaris. "Most of the new jobs require some kind of technical expertise, and apprenticeships are vital components in building the workforce for today and tomorrow and it's an earning and learning pathway for people."
To apply for a job at Swagelok or browse their current opening, head to Jobs.Swagelok.com
At Progressive Insurance, Talent Acquisition Business Leader Neil Lenane told News 5 they continue to survey their employees about ways to improve their benefits to help with employee retention.
"Our benefits remain very competitive," he said in an email. "We have and continue to make changes that best meet our Progressive families’ needs."
At Marcus Thomas, a Cleveland-based PR and advertising firm, the pandemic allowed the company to widen its hiring net by attracting new employees in other states.
"I’ve been able to attract a lot of high-quality talent," senior talent manager Jordan Anders said. "Everything changed in March 2020. You have to adapt now."
When her husband got a new job one year ago, PR account supervisor Aya Mason moved back home to Nashville but stayed at the company.
"I was not ready to move on from Marcus Thomas," she said."It was a very easy transition. I think literally all I did was I went into the office to pick up a couple of things that were collecting dust over the last year anyways."
Mason, based in Tennessee, lives in one of the 13 states where Marcus Thomas employees now operate.
"We’re trying to change and continually evolve who we are," said Heidi Modarelli-Frank, president of public relations at Marcus Thomas. "We started to realize in 2021 that some of the lessons we learned could be things that are carried forward to the foreseeable future. It wasn't just a one-time thing. We want to be a place people want to work."
In Marcus Thomas’ case, they’re only looking to fill about eight openings out of a couple hundred.
When the pandemic pushed people out of the building, they found the definition of a positive workplace shifted away from gaming areas and inviting offices.
That meant evolving the culture to retain and attract new talent by adding a remote work stipend and other perks that benefit employees outside the office.
"Companies don’t get to dictate your life 24/7," Marcus Thomas senior people manager Carly Sado said. "People aren’t afraid to come to the table and ask for what they need and in return, companies get great work because employees have autonomy over their schedules, over how they work."
'Help Wanted: Ohio' dives into the issues surrounding employment in Northeast Ohio.
We investigate the broken unemployment system, our broken skills development and education systems, the impacts worker shortages are having on our local economy, as well as the hardest-hit industries. We hold leaders and legislators accountable and look for those working towards solutions.
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