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'Amazing Opportunity' For Tempe Businesses, Job Seekers

Offering higher wages, retention bonuses and extra time off are some ways employers are dealing with a tight labor market.

“We have a formula where we have to invite eight people to come in and interview to get two to show up so we can make a job offer to one,” said Susan Lawver, general manager of Snakes and Lattes, a board game café, bar and restaurant.

In Tempe, dozens of businesses will try a new recruiting tactic this month. It’s called the Tempe Job Monsoon — and organizers hope to "make it rain" for job seekers and businesses.

Lawver said Snakes and Latte on Mill Avenue is looking to fill six to 10 culinary and hospitality positions.   

“A lot of people have left the industry because of COVID, or, you know, it’s tough with Amazon paying really well, there are other companies that are stealing employees away,” she said.

Participating businesses will post signs and hang green balloons to welcome applicants on July 21 and 28.

Michael Martin with the Tempe Tourism Office said there’s no cost to companies, but there is an expectation, “To make sure that somebody is there on the two days so that that person is able to interview, accept applications, interview, and possibly hire somebody on the spot.”

“We are hoping that businesses will go beyond just the sign and a balloon or two, and make their business easily seen and more attractive to future staff,” said Anne Gill, Tempe Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “It’s a job seeker’s market right now, and showcasing benefits and a welcoming company culture is important.”

"It’s a job seeker’s market right now, and showcasing benefits and a welcoming company culture is important." — Anne Gill, Tempe Chamber of Commerce president and CEO

While the majority of participating businesses are in hospitality, other companies are looking for technology and healthcare workers. Martin said the goal is to get a hundred businesses across Tempe to participate.

“I think this is an amazing opportunity both for the applicants and the companies,” Lawver said.

A June 2021 poll by the labor research firm Indeed Hiring Lab found fear of the virus was the top reason cited by unemployed people who are not looking for work. As more people get vaccinated, savings shrink and schools fully reopen, the survey found many unemployed workers will step up their job search.

In addition to COVID-19 concerns, Martin said child care and elder care challenges are often mentioned as reasons that people are not returning or applying for jobs in retail and hospitality.

On July 10, Gov. Doug Ducey ended the $300 supplement from the federal pandemic unemployment compensation. In May, Ducey announced he would set aside $300 million in federal funds to offer bonuses of $1,000 and $2,000 for eligible workers who rejoin the workforce by Labor Day, September 6, 2021. The money will be paid on a first-come, first-served basis, after the worker has left the unemployment insurance program and completed at least 10 weeks of work.

More details on the back to work bonuses can be found here.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.