Park City businesses scramble to fill job positions
Higher wages and discounted housing used to incentivize employees
It’s job fair season in Park City.
In the past, that meant businesses could essentially sit back and wait for applications to pile up. But, with a thriving state economy and an ever-increasing cost of living in Park City, that is no longer the case.
Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, said a good economy is great for those seeking work, but not for those hiring.
“I’ve seen the years where the line of people looking for work at the job fair goes out the door,” he said. “Lately, we’ve had more businesses setting up booths than we’ve had people coming through the door looking for jobs. It’s a tough market.”
The Chamber/Bureau is set to host a job fair on Oct. 4, at the Utah Valley University Heber City campus, and Malone said companies will be lucky to see more than 30 people.
According to Jeff Jones, economic development director for Summit County, the number of jobs increased by 21 percent in the county from 2011 to 2016. In the last year, employment in the state increased by 2.8 percent. Malone and the Chamber/Bureau have considered pulling employees from surrounding areas whose economies are not doing as well, such as Vernal and Duchesne, which have traditionally focused on coal and gas, but the commute is too far for workers.
Chris Eggleton, managing director at Newpark Resort Management, has lived through the ups and downs.
“Hiring is still tougher than ever,” he said. “I think it’s causing businesses to get creative, it’s certainly causing businesses to get competitive. Wages are rising pretty aggressively.”
Wages in the hospitality industry in Summit County increased by 8 percent last winter, Malone said. In a hiring ad for Stein Eriksen Lodge Management Corporation, no starting salaries were below $10.15 an hour, $2.90 more than Utah’s minimum wage.
Lisa Angotti, recruiting manager at Deer Valley Resort, said Utah ski areas try to “play nice together,” but one resort always ends up raising salaries.
“I have seen wages creeping up, so we have to stay competitive,”she said. “We try to stay current so that we’re competitive with everyone else, but if another competitor goes up for, say, the price of cooks, sometimes we can’t match them.”
Deer Valley instead chooses to compensate with end-of-season bonuses, ski pass perks or discount employee housing. The 365 beds fill up quickly though, Angotti said.
The high cost of living in Park City turns off many prospective employees. Park City Mountain Resort tries to combat that with an entire talent acquisition team to help new hires find an affordable place to live, according to Jess Miller, spokesperson for the resort.
Other companies are increasingly seeking new, creative means that go beyond higher wages or affordable housing.
Newpark Resort Management, for instance, is improving technology so more jobs can be done remotely, though that is only possible for some jobs, like administrative or call center positions, Eggleton said. He is also hoping to incentivize employees with money to buy clothes that can double as work uniforms and every day wear.
“They don’t have to wear the traditional black slacks and polo shirt that they’ll never wear outside the workforce,” he said. “It gives them an opportunity to feel a little more comfortable to wear clothes that are stylishly aligned with their taste, their body configurations and their preferences to feel more confident and also be able to take those clothes and get a drink afterwards.”
Constantly changing to recruit the best employees is essential, Eggleton said. If that does not happen, some, like Malone, are concerned how Park City’s resort industry will look in the future.
“I worry about it from a community standpoint because we pride ourselves on delivering a pretty good product in this town,” he said. “But, it does become more challenging as it gets harder to fill jobs. You’re stretching employees farther and farther and you wonder. At some point in time, you worry about the experience that the guest has.”
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