Honolulu companies struggle to fill jobs
Jamba Juice, for one, is offering a $10,000 bonus to general managers who stay for three years
Jamba Juice, which needs to hire 25 to 30 employees for each of several new locations on Oahu, has begun offering general managers a $10,000 bonus if they stay on the job for three years.
The company also is offering workers anywhere from $200 to $1,000 in referral bonuses if they bring in new hires who last for 90 days, said Sherri Rigg, marketing director for Jamba Juice, Starbucks and P.F. Chang's China Bistro.
"It's gotten very competitive -- other companies are out there trying to lure good people away," Rigg said.
Honolulu's hiring picture for the next few months is brisk, but filling vacancies will be easier said than done for businesses trying to recruit employees in the tightest labor market in the nation.
More than 37 percent of Hawaii companies who took Manpower Inc.'s latest quarterly business poll said they were inclined to hire more people between April and June. Most of the rest said they expect to maintain their current staffing levels, while none said that they intend to reduce their work force.
Honolulu's 2.4 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in the nation, has made the labor market so tight that most employers are having difficulty recruiting and retaining workers, said Beth Busch, president of Success Advertising Hawaii, organizer of three job fairs each year.
"Many are actually stealing workers from each other," Busch said.
The fallout of the tight labor market is increased recruitment, training and retention costs, she said. Companies across the state have started to offer a range of benefits, from better health-care and retirement plans to referral and recruitment bonuses, paid college tuition, store discounts and flexible hours.
Still, Honolulu employers are growing more optimistic about hiring plans than they were a year ago, said Reeve Weiner, a spokeswoman for the local Manpower office.
"Employers are more optimistic about hiring than they were a year ago, when 33 percent of companies surveyed thought employment increases were likely and 3 percent intended to cut back," Weiner said.
For the second quarter of this year, Manpower found that job opportunities in Honolulu are strongest in nondurable goods, wholesale/retail trade, finance/insurance/real estate, services and public administration. Hiring in construction, manufacturing, utilities and education are expected to remain the same.
The second-quarter findings were down slightly from Manpower's first-quarter forecast, when 40 percent of businesses said they planned on adding workers, and another 3 percent intended to cut back their hiring pace, Weiner said.
Part of the drop could be due to the limited labor pool in Honolulu, Busch said.
There is a shortage of trained entry-level candidates in Honolulu and most everyone else who wants a job has a job, she said.
"If someone tells me that they can't find a job, I know it's because they aren't looking," she said. "It's definitely a job seeker's market."
Manpower's poll results show a similar trend worldwide. The survey revealed that 40 percent of employers around the globe are having difficulty filling positions because of a lack of suitable talent.
Employers report that finding top sales representatives, technicians and engineers is the hardest, said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and chief executive officer for Manpower Inc.
"As employers compete for talent in these hot job categories, we will see salaries and compensation escalate," he said.
That's already beginning to happen in Honolulu, Busch said.
And, what's more, skilled employees don't have to settle for dead-end jobs, Busch said.
It's not unusual to see employed workers checking out job fairs on their lunch hours looking for something better, she said.
"The human resources directors are just tearing their hair out," Busch said.