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Workforce Webinar

March 29, 2018

Workforce Recruitment - Discussion with Monique Beaudry (Jasper Hill Farm)

Presented On: Wednesday, April 4th, 2018  

If you have trouble with the embedded video, the recording is also posted to YouTube here.    

Like many Vermont food businesses, Jasper Hill Farm builds its team with a combination of local employees and folks from beyond Vermont who are excited to be part of Vermont’s thriving food sector. Monique Beaudry, HR Manager at Jasper Hill, gives an introduction to their approach for recruitment both in Vermont and outside the state, for training employees, and retaining those skilled employees.

Notes from the presentation:

An overview of employers workforce recruitment issues in Vermont is provided in the Workforce Education and Training Report  (2016). From this we know that by far the greatest concern expressed by Vermont employers is an inability to find enough motivated and generally qualified candidates - more than concerns about a shortage of people with specialized skills, candidates unable to match work schedules, lack of candidates with a strong work ethic, need for candidates to be willing to relocate, or high turnover. 

Components of what Jasper Hill uses to attract their 75 workers (of which almost half are under the age of 48 - a young workforce by Vermont standards) include:

Effective Job Descriptions Clear and with the following components: 

Title
Company Info
Position Summary
Duties/Responsibilities
Knowledge/Skills
Physical Requirements (ADA)
How to Apply

Recruitment through a variety of avenues. Only 13 of Jasper Hill’s 75 employees come from outside of the local region. Much of their recruitment efforts involve local networks, and although ‘word of mouth’ is hard to measure as an outreach strategy there are ways to encourage it - making sure current employees have the information for outreach, working with other local businesses (Jasper Hill has previously helped organize community-specific job fairs), and simply with signage that’s visible locally. Pointing all information back to a well constructed job description on the business’ website helps make sure that nothing gets garbled as it’s passed through more casual information networks. 

Training with clear work plans to take new employees through their first few months. These plans and schedules include:

Clear Goals / Outcomes - Jasper Hill writes up an individualized training plan broken out into segments with clear benchmarks along the way.
Engaging Resources - Combining written training manuals with more engaging presentations, hands on work, interacting with other people to learn skills. 
Consistent Schedule - Both consistency and also working to have that schedule match the employee’s overall schedule as much as possible, particularly in businesses that work odd hours (maybe someone is okay with working really early if they can then get more time with their kids after school, for example). 
Knowledge vs Action - Knowing that lots of information can be presented, but it will only be retained after it’s put into action.  

Retention / Attracting to Vermont Jasper Hill has found that in a rural area, especially, they need to spend more time explaining what community life is like to people from outside (and its benefits) and perhaps filling in some gaps (like social events or access to fast wi-fi and cell service). There is a balance between enumerating all the benefits of working for your business, aka the reasons why people want to work there, and being transparent about what to expect. This is particularly true for people from outside of the local area who will find satisfaction (or not) based both on the job itself and their life outside of work. A list of recruiting points Jasper Hill considers:   

Total Pay
Heath Insurance
401K
Your Products 
Trades with other businesses
Housing (relocation assistance)
Wellness Plan
Family Meals
Company Events
Wifi 
Distance to Stores/Services
Cell Service
Local Events/Non-profits
Schools
Loan Forgiveness
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