Chamber of Commerce Hears Presentation on Workforce Crises

Published 9:09 am Friday, September 1, 2023

The Chamber of Commerce met in the Rees Park Economic Development Center on August 31rst. Members enjoyed sandwiches in the high ceiling brick building before the lecture commenced. Will Peterson, a representative for OneDigital, gave a presentation to the Chamber of Commerce about the hiring crisis sweeping the nation, titled Survival of the Fittest.
Mr. Peterson started off by first clarifying that The Great Resignation would be better designated The Great Reshuffle, since the national quit rate is 2.4% and the national hiring rate is 4.0%. However, he also stated that employees were missing, with 1.97 million fewer since 2020. He listed a host of problems confronting employers, from employee disengagement, a broken immigration system, and birthrates down 58% since the boomer generation. From his own experience, he described hearing of empty schools and a shrinking future work force.
He listed a variety of tactics companies could employ in the hopes of surviving the crises, one key issue being better childcare, with many workers heavily impacted. He did acknowledge that current regulations made meeting childcare needs difficult, stifling competition.
Mr. Peterson also discussed the changing corporate mindsets in the companies that were surviving after COVID, where employee mental health has now become an active concern of employers who want to retain workers. He described past paradigms where employers saw themselves as managing labor and eliminating unproductive workers, and a switch to a newer model more successful in the current culture of leading and developing employees. Mr. Peterson also stressed that many companies focus on corporate values without ever considering the values of their individual employees.
The president of the Chamber, Amber Batchelor, also stated this was an issue with non-profits, and suggested having a non-profit symposium.
Many members of the Chamber echoed Mr. Peterson’s concerns, talking about challenges in recruiting young workers due to a lack of job education for students and a workforce that was entirely unequipped to face the needs of infrastructure and law enforcement, with many students disinterested in careers that formerly had many applicants. They also discussed positive changes occurring in Georgia institutions of higher education requiring them to provide better job preparation or lose funding. Mr. Peterson stated that for many companies, communicating their purpose and passions to employees may help them attract more workers.
Mr. Peterson continued to give a variety of tactics that employers were utilizing to retain workers, mentioning that moving employees up the chain was not always the best option for retention, stating that giving them more responsibility without proper training can cause issues for employees that would be better transferred laterally throughout the company. He also mentioned greater emphasis on treating employees as human beings. Mr. Peterson also stressed that offering a wide range of benefits and getting to know employee concerns is crucial to retaining workers.
Mr. Peterson talked about how OneDigital was currently combating these issues, and how they hoped to provide HR support. Mr. Peterson works with the city of Americus and has also been advertising OneDigital’s services to the County as well.