Yakima County Development Association - Employer Survey Yields Insights Into Local Hiring Issues

Jonathan Smith

The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news. 



Employer Survey Yields Insights Into Local Hiring Issues

Employer Survey Yields Insights Into Local Hiring Issues

September 13, 2012

Earlier this year we teamed up with the Yakima Valley Human Resource Association to poll local employers surrounding the attraction and retention of technical (or professional) employees.  We wanted to get a better feel for issues that impact employers when they recruit talented employees to the region.  Attracting technical and professional employees is a big issue in the Yakima Valley.  Many businesses struggle to fill key positions at their facilities.  Our office has developed a talent attraction initiative over the last couple years and the survey project was initiatied as part of these efforts.

We had 53 employers participate in our online survey.  With a small sample size we cannot suggest our results are more than a pulse of the community.  On the other hand participants represent companies employing thousands of workers in Yakima County so the survey findings do carry a fair amount of weight.

Survey findings highlight the challenges of filling key jobs:

    • over 75 percent of participants have had difficulty finding qualified employees over the last year:
    • respondents indictated they have to increase recruiting efforts, hire a less qualifed candidate, increase overtime or leave the position vacant when they have difficulty finding qualified employees; and
    • the hardest skills to find are occupational specific skills, leadership skills, and positive work habits and attitudes.

We asked people to also identify the educational requirements for jobs they would fill over the next five years and found that a large share of these jobs would require some level of college or vocational training.

Survey participants were also asked which factors impacted employee recruitment and retention.  It was interesting to see that employee benefits were more important than salary considerations for prospective employees.  On the flip side salaries were more important than benefits in terms of keeping top employees.  Work culture, job security and opportunities for advancement were also important factors affecting employee recruitment and retention.

We also asked employers to identify community factors impacting talent attraction.  Respondents said our cost of living, housing costs/availability, crime/public safety, geographic location, and local schools were cited as key issues impacting talented people considering a move to our community.  Obviously some of these factors are positive traits for the region - others point out some of our challenges.

When asked about the region's most appealing lifestyle assets respondents put our affordable cost of living, outdoor recreational opportunities and weather at the top of the list.  These virtues were complimented by favorable housing costs, family activities, and local schools.

Click on the link below to see the final survey results.

talent attraction survey findings



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"We have a well-trained workforce that provides a level of customer service that sets us apart from our competitors. Our productivity is much, much higher than our competition. " - Garry Griggs, Owner/President, Magic Metals