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 harm their businesses.
Many employers have started the communication process with their senators and representatives to address concerns about looming delays. Still others are searching for long-term solutions to this seemingly never-ending challenge of getting competent laborers on board when companies need laborers most.
Consider taking matters of hiring seasonal labor into your own hands with these alternatives.
Work Opportunity Tax Credits
The Department of Labor (DOL) offers a Work Opportunity Tax Credit when employers hire disadvantaged workers. The DOL will pay your company a small amount each hour that you employ individuals from various 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/29SONCn for more information on these programs.
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 and are looking for employment until they are deployed (up to 12 months into the future).
Trade schools and community colleges
These schools include occupational centers and community colleges that offer relevant trade programs (such as small and large engine mechanics, irrigation, and construction) all attended by students who want regular hours while they attend night or weekend classes. 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. Some employers might be concerned that if related employees get upset (or a better offer elsewhere), they might all leave at the same time. 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 all the different 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 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 there are some resources that might be worth considering as you evaluate the current H-2B visa program delays and changes, and it might just be time for you to make plans for less stressful hiring this year.