By Mary Angell, Cowboy State Daily
As holidays draw near, employers at retail stores, restaurants and hotels in Wyoming may find the state’s current unemployment rate of 3.8 percent makes it very difficult for them to hire extra workers for the holiday season.
That’s why some simply don’t.
“We try to be prepared without having to hire seasonal help,” said Louis Taubert, co-owner of Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters in Casper. “It used to be more (common), but now we look for fewer and better employees so I don’t have to deal with seasonal help.”
Having enough employees for the holiday season doesn’t concern Taubert, because according to him, the 55,000 square-foot western store is busiest in June, during the College National Finals Rodeo.
He added that he has a good staff, and if he needs more help over the holidays, he calls on several people who have previously worked at the store. Some are retired, while others have full-time jobs elsewhere but are willing to work for Taubert on the weekends.
“These people already have training, and they work into the system pretty well,” he said. “That’s probably really good, considering the market now. It’s really tough to get the right candidates for a full- or part-time position.”
The Bomgarrs store in Gillette also gets through the holidays with its regular staff.
“The way our budget works, we kind of maneuver around (hiring seasonal help),” said general manager Steve Stalcup.
“There’s very little range between seasons,” he added. “We just shift our focus on what we’re doing in the store. The first part of November, we’re focused 90 percent on getting stuff done. From the day after Thanksgiving, the focus is on selling. It’s a different paradigm as far as how you manage a season. There are hiccups, but generally it works out really well.”
Hiring seasonal workers used to be the practice, said Stalcup, who has 20 years’ experience as a store manager.
But he occasionally found himself in the unfortunate predicament of hiring a very capable seasonal worker who the company couldn’t afford to keep at the end of the season. Now he just makes sure his employees are cross-trained and know how to handle the extra work presented by the holiday season.
“It makes sense to keep the staff flexible,” he said. “When you don’t hire seasonal help, you have to think more strategically, help your staff be flexible.”
Similarly, although the Little America Hotel of Cheyenne has several staff vacancies — part-time and full-time — it is not going to hire any seasonal help, according to Shane Bustillo, human resources manager.
The UPS Store in Cheyenne always hires extra staff members for the holiday season, but only one or two. And sometimes getting more people to help out means just calling former employees.
“We always have backup people who have helped us for the last couple of years,” said A.K. Shrestha, area manager for UPS.
Wyoming’s low unemployment rate is not a concern for Shrestha, who recently hired a new manager, assistant manager and a couple of workers for the store.
“It’s not hard to find people,” he said. “We even have walk-ins who need a job. We just changed our group, rebuilt our team in two days.”