HADC is taking the lead with efforts to understand Washington County employer hiring issues.

Hartford area employers have been dealing with the challenges of workforce attraction and retention for several years. The low unemployment rates in Wisconsin and Washington County (and neighboring counties) have made it difficult to attract the quality workforce that  is needed to grow businesses. A survey done by the Hartford Area Development Corp (HADC) in 2017 found that there were over 400 job openings among manufacturing and logistics companies in the Hartford area. The same survey done in 2018 saw the number jump to over 600. Most companies are also experiencing high turnover rates – 25-30% is not uncommon.

The board of directors of the HADC feels that we must take a proactive approach to understanding why these jobs are going unfilled and developing strategies and tactics that will help attract and retain the future workforce. To provide the base line for this work,

We believe that a “root cause analysis” is the logical next step and we have entered into an agreement with Economic Development Washington County (EDWC) to undertake an extensive employee survey that will help us understand current attitudes about the workplace and community. All expenses will be covered by the HADC.

A survey of no more than 25 questions is being developed and we are asking employers for their support and cooperation in getting employees to complete it during the month of February. We want to achieve a high participation rate, approximately 50%, so that the quality of responses can be meaningful in helping us identify and understand the issues. All responses will be anonymous. We will be looking for general trends about the workplace and the community that will suggest how we can overcome the challenges we are currently facing.

The HADC has created a project management team to oversee this process. The team members are J P Zvesper, Jacsten Group and interim President of Triton Trailers; David Pye, Plant Director at Quad Graphics Hartford; Aaron Lensink, VP/Business Banking Manager First National Bank of Hartford and Tom Hostad, Executive Director Hartford Area Development Corp.

We anticipate that the process of discovery, analysis, developing recommendations and implementation will play out over the next 4 months with updates provided throughout the life of the project.