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“We are constantly challenged by hiring”: BCS businesses making adjustments to find workers

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 10:50 PM CST
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - According to a recent analysis of federal labor statistics, 42 states, including Texas, have more available job openings than job applicants, and local business owners are feeling the effects of that.

Many of them are making adjustments to the way they manage their businesses to deal with the current hiring environment. Some say they’re realizing more and more that good help truly is becoming harder to find.

Cody Whitten is the owner of Gate 12 Bar & Grill and J. Cody’s Steaks & Barbeque.

“We are constantly challenged by hiring. It never stops, and more so than ever before,” Whitten said. “When we do get an application, we call them immediately. We don’t wait. We get them in as soon as possible and hire them as fast as we can. If not, somebody else is snagging them.”

Hiring issues aren’t just plaguing the restaurant industry, either. Aggieland Outfitters Assistant Director of Retail Operations Jake Zamora says retail is having problems with it, too.

“We’ve definitely had issues hiring as far as finding people,” Zamora said. “We’ve found different channels throughout the Aggie network and community to find great candidates that have come on board and helped us out through this difficult time.”

Whitten says they have openings across all job types, from waiters to bartenders to kitchen staff. He says the turnover is high at his restaurants, and it’s challenging constantly training employees who leave after just a few weeks.

“To retain people, we’ve raised wages,” Whitten said. “We’re paying overtime to several employees just to staff for the empty positions. It costs us more to do that. It also puts pressure on other employees who are working those longer hours, and sometimes we’ve lost people just simply because we’re asking them to work so much.”

Because hiring and retaining employees has become so difficult, Whitten says they don’t bother with certain qualifications anymore. They have to take whatever they can get.

“We would like to get somebody in here that is qualified, but unfortunately, sometimes we don’t have that choice,” Whitten said.

Zamora says workers at Aggieland Outfitters are working longer hours, too. He says they’ve looked internally for opportunities to fill the hiring void.

“We’ve taken that opportunity to grow them as young employees to take on more responsibility if they can,” Zamora said. “Here at Aggieland Outfitters, we really pride ourselves in being a company that is big with growth within, so we’ve taken this opportunity through the pandemic to develop our staff.”

Both say they’re hopeful about hiring prospects improving. Zamora says they’ve seen an increase in applicants recently.

“As we get back to normal as a community, I’m hopeful that by the new year or the springtime we’ll be back up and running and have the same kind of applicants we had pre-COVID.”

But Whitten says he’s unsure how long the current circumstances are sustainable.

“That’s a great question,” Whitten said. “We’re continually trying to think outside the box on how to get somebody in here to apply for a job. We’re trying everything we can to get people in here. This can’t last forever. We’ve got to get back to some normalcy in our society and get past COVID. I think things will come back around, but we don’t know.”

Whitten says many of the restaurant owners in town are suffering from exact same issues, on on top of the hiring problems, they’re also dealing with rising costs for food and supply challenges.

“At the end of October, it felt like things were starting to pick up,” Whitten said. “But sales are down, wages and input prices are up, so it’s a huge challenge. That just makes it more difficult not being able to hire somebody.”

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