PAV Municipal Roundtable Discussion
By Christopher Polk, CAPP
I recently attended the PAV Conference at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia. The conference was well attended, and the presentations were engaging and informative. The golf was incredible, too. On the last day of the event, I attended the Municipal Roundtable Discussion, and we started with a conversation about the biggest issues that were impacting each municipality and its operation. It was easy to notice a common theme throughout the discussion: staffing. It seems that we are still experiencing some lagging effects from COVID. Our operation in Virginia Beach is experiencing the same problems.
There were several specific issues that were discussed regarding staffing. Just getting applicants in the door continues to be a problem. Many applicants do not show up for interviews; if they do show up and are offered the position, they ghost the employer before they can even start. This creates a lower staff quality because operators are accepting staff that may not have been accepted. This is also leading to higher staff turnover rates because the hired staff will just quit or not show up more readily. Job loyalty is almost nonexistent. They will just move on to the next opportunity because the next employer is just as desperate for staff.
To compensate, many operations are increasing wages to compete with other businesses, hoping that the higher rate will bring in a higher caliber employee. In our operation, we increased Frontline staff wages to $18/hour, and we have found that this does work, at least until the next business offers an even higher rate (back to job loyalty). With the higher rates, we had higher expectations for the staff. We focused on staff with higher competency so that they could take on more responsibility and the operation was more efficient. Blending this with bringing in new technology allowed us to do more with less, reducing the number of staff required to operate.
As operators adjust to the current hiring climate, fewer and fewer positions will be available for frontline when things do turn around.