Yakima County Development Association - Roundtable Focuses on Best Hiring Practices

Jean Brown

Article by:
Jean Brown

Jean publishes a blog called the Enterprise Corner.  It features articles on entrepreneurship, local industry trends, manufacturing news and periodic ‘toolbox’ articles showcasing assistance, incentives and other resources for local businesses.



Roundtable Focuses on Best Hiring Practices

Roundtable Focuses on Best Hiring Practices

May 22, 2015

Yakima County Development Association’s May Roundtable put the spotlight on how to find and hire and retain great employees.  Scott Washburn with Tree Top, Debbie Byrd with Triumph Actuation Systems and Lisa Garcia with Yakima Chief-Hop Union anchored a panel discussion on strategies they are using to fill key jobs at their companies. Each of them shared some great tips and insights surrounding effective employee recruitment/retention strategies.

Tree Top, Triumph, and YCH Hops agreed that their biggest challenge is finding experienced technical and professional employees in IT, Engineering, Machining, Maintenance, Science and Operations. Companies typically have to recruit these workers from outside the area and provide significant incentives to get them to Yakima. As an interesting side note it’s not always about the money for these professionals. Engineers and other technical workers are often attracted to companies as a result of the projects or problems they will get to work on. Don’t undersell their role in making a difference, it may be what makes your business stand out.

In light of recruiting challenges several local companies are “growing their own” higher level employees by investing in skills training, formal education nd mentoring. Debbie Byrd explained that this practice has proven successful for Triumph. It is often a bigger risk to bring a highly paid professional to town than to develop a capable workers rooted in our community already. Byrd indicated that a significant share of their tenured workforce is approaching retirement so Triumph is actively trying to train up employees and promote from within.

Social media popped up as a means to reach qualified candidates. Lisa Garcia has had success using Facebook and Linked In while others are still experimenting with it. Monster delivers some companies good results while others find using recruiters, headhunters and temporary agencies helpful and necessary to plug open positions. Others have taken the task in house to gain more oversight and control. Old fashioned networking is a core strategy for most of our local human resource pros.

Lisa, Debbie and Scott all work hard to plug new employees (and their families) into the community.   Getting transplants rooted in Yakima and resolving their relocation or personal issues is a critical part of retaining these key workers. Their companies also work to create a positive culture for employees. Small things like ice cream breaks and pizza day give employees time to socialize and become part of the team.

Dave McFadden outlined several resources available to support employee recruitment and retention. The association’s new relocation guide can help companies sell our community to prospective employees. Likewise the www.liveyakimvalley.com website is specifically designed to help relocating professionals. The development association has also trained a team of new resident ambassadors who are willing to help new people to our Valley. McFadden also mentioned his association hosts several receptions each year for new residents.

There is no magic bullet concluded Scott Washburn. Employee recruitment and retention strategies that works for one business may not work at all for another. He felt Human Resource professionals and company managers need to define their personnel needs carefully and then find creative avenues to find talented employees.

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"The [Enterprise Challenge] business plan contest was really a kick start. I think the best part of the contest was that you could look at your dream and turn it into a real business." - Carol VanEvenhoven, Co-Owner, Hop Central Brewing Company