Tri-Cities businesses struggle to find new employees

KENNEWICK, Wash. – It’s been a busy year for Tri-Cities business TLC Landscape Management, owned by Trent Brown.

“We wanna keep taking on work, but sometimes you can only do with what you have, the last few months have been a grind for sure,” he said.

But, he’s run into a problem, he’s getting more requests than his team can keep up with.

“It was non-stop which we truly appreciate, but you got to have people. In the past, I would put out a Facebook ad, or a Craigslist ad and we’d probably get 50-60 people reaching out to us, and this year, it’s been like crickets,” he explained.

Trent said it’s been similar across the board for many trades, like the construction industry. He said friends have reached out to him, looking for connections, but they’re all in the same boat.

The shortage doesn’t stop there.

“Talked to a restaurant and they’re saying they can’t hire waitstaff, or cooks, or dishwashers, or again, in the hospitality industry, talking to a hotel owner, they’re saying they can’t get housekeepers, and if they do get them, the turnover is really high,” Stephanie Swanberg with the Tri-Cities Regional Chamber of Commerce said.

POLL: Are expanded unemployment benefits to blame for employee shortages?

She went onto explain the hiring struggle stretches across many industries and in the Tri-Cities region. They’ve heard stories from business owners who said they line up interviews, but then a majority of the people are no shows. The Chamber, along with other entities similar to them, have been advocating for the end on the unemployment job search suspension.

“People are anxious to get back travelling they’re anxious to get back to the restaurants, but when you don’t have staff to come in and take those jobs they can’t recover,” she said.

Brown said it could be the expanded unemployment benefits keeping people at home, but also believes companies need to look at their workplace culture to draw in employees, like he’s done with TLC Landscape Management

“The way people have been doing stuff throughout the years, maybe it’s not gonna work anymore, so let’s try to pivot and adapt to it and create a culture where people wanna be here every single day,” Brown said his team is more like a family.

The Washington Employment Security Department announced on Wednesday that the job search suspension for people on unemployment will end on July 4th.

People must start looking for jobs that week, begin reporting activities the week of July 11th, then look for more information from the ESD on the 15th.

More information can be found here.