H-2B alternatives

Departments - Hire Power

March 28, 2016
Christine Soderlund

Hire Power is a monthly column designed to help you recruit, hire and retain the best talent for your company. We’ve got a rotating panel of columnists ready to give you practical, tactical advice on solving your labor problems. Email Chuck Bowen at cbowen@gie.net with topic ideas.

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Employers who have been challenged by H-2B visa processing issues report concerns that a potential lack of H-2B labor or a delay in receiving H-2B labor will threaten the maintenance or completion of their contracts and will harm their businesses.

Hopefully, there will be a quick and fair resolution to all the delays and maybe the H-2B visa process will ultimately become more efficient after all the changes in legislation. But, if you are skeptical that the H-2B process will ever become a seamless and easy-to-manage resource, it might just be time to take matters of hiring seasonal labor into your own hands with these alternatives.

Work Opportunity Tax Credits.

The Department of Labor offers a Work Opportunity Tax Credit when employers hire disadvantaged workers. That is, the DOL will actually pay your company a small amount each hour that you employ individuals from a various of local resources.

These workers include unemployed veterans, individuals from families that receive food stamps, recipients of Vocational Rehabilitation, formerly incarcerated individuals, Summer Youth Employees, those who have received Supplemental Security Income, those who live in Rural Renewal Counties or individuals who live in Empowerment Zones.

Check bit.ly/h2bwotc for more information on these programs

Military recruiting.

Many of my clients have reported that returning military members have stepped into both temporary and seasonal positions as well as professional level positions with great success.

You can contact your local military bases to ask about “delayed entry” military members who might be available for work during your busiest times until they are deployed.

Trade schools.

There are a variety of exceptional federally and state-funded trade schools in your area with talented people who are ready to work for you and are looking for employment.

These schools include occupational centers and community colleges that offer relevant trade programs (such as small and large engine mechanics, irrigation, construction and plumbing) all attended by students who want regular hours while they attend night or weekend classes.

These individuals tend to be students looking to learn a trade who might not be motivated or financially available to attend a four-year college for an advanced degree.

It is worth reaching out to these campuses to learn about the students looking for a variety of jobs while they go to school and to partner with the professors of the related classes. You never know how a relationship with a local school might offer a significant advantage to your business.

Consider all applicants.

When you incentivize your employees to help you find great talent, they tend to find people that they would want to work with. At one of the branches for a large landscaping company I worked for, there were more than 100 employees who were related, and some were there for decades.

Some employers might be concerned that if related employees get upset or a better offer elsewhere, they might all leave at the same time. But, more often than not, this isn’t the case. Related employees tend to stay together and tend to hold each other accountable in a very different way than unrelated employees.

And, when employers take the time to listen to their employees, offer a fair bonus to employees who bring in talented candidates and make an effort to treat their employees fairly, these related employees tend to be very loyal and some of the best recruiters your firm can have.

Keep candidate records.

When you are considering the applicants that might come in from your various recruiting efforts, be sure to hold on to the resumes or contact information for candidates that you didn’t get the chance to hire. You never know who might be less than qualified today but might be a wonderfully qualified candidate in six to 12 months. Assign one of your office staff members to follow up with candidates on a regular basis (once or twice a year).

Finding labor at any time of the year is challenging. Training and keeping your employees engaged tends to be even more difficult. But keep these resources in mind, and you will find something that works for you and your company.

The author is a talent sourcing consultant with Bruce Wilson & Company.