Lake Area businesses struggle with hiring employees

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 9:34 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The pandemic is causing unprecedented turmoil across the board with impacts felt by companies of all sizes across all industries looking to hire employees.

Lake Area businesses are now competing with each other when it comes to hiring prospective employees. Many of them are increasing their wage offerings, dealing with no-shows to interviews, and competing with unemployment benefits.

“The general consensus with the calls that we get on a daily basis from businesses is that they are having a difficult time finding and retaining employees,” said Crystal Scott with the American Job Center in Lake Charles.

Restaurant operators hoping to hire have identified four variables they’re dealing with: the pandemic, hurricane recovery, housing issues, and the government subsidizing of employment. These challenges aren’t only limited to the food industry.

“The COVID, people staying home, people being scared, and also the government paying people to stay home,” are some of the problems according to Ray Busteillo, owner of Wendi’s Flower Cart.

Employers say in order to keep unemployment benefits flowing, prospective hires must show effort in trying to get a job, but they end up not following through.

“There was an employer who contacted us last week,” Scott said. “They said ‘Krystal I spent the entire day scheduling interviews. I was excited. I had my whole team involved, getting our packets together, ready to onboard, ready to offer some employment opportunities, and when the day came, nobody showed up!’”

“Within the past two days, I’ve had at least three interviews that were confirmed, and then they never showed. They never called. They never rescheduled. They just don’t show up,” said Thelma Woodard, Executive Assistant of Crying Eagle Brewing Company.

“It happens with us,” said David Griffin, the operator of Chick-fil-A. “It happens with a lot of other owners that I talk to. People will get an application, they’ll call, they’ll do the interview, set up the interview, and then people don’t show up. It’s pretty common. People working the system.”

To stay competitive, some managers are offering salaries far above minimum wage. Chick-fil-A is offering $16 to $17 an hour for non-management positions.

Employers agree now is the time to strike while the job market is still hot.

“Those unemployment benefits aren’t going to last forever,” Scott said. “The additional subsidy is just temporary, so it would behoove job seekers to find a job that they like and get it now.”

If you are looking for a job, the American Job Center in Lake Charles says to contact them via their Facebook page or their website.

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