ReNew Jersey Business Summit
Businesses across New Jersey — and to be fair, elsewhere — report they’re finding it difficult to recruit and retain qualified employees. NJBIZ spoke with some Workforce Development panelists from the upcoming Chamber Business Summit to get their thoughts about some solutions.
“Attracting and retaining top talent is a critical part of how Bank of America is delivering for our clients and our communities, especially as we navigate the competition for top talent that many industries face today,” said Alberto Garofalo, New Jersey Market president, Bank of America. “At Bank of America, we are committed to listening to the needs of our current and prospective employees to ensure that we are creating a work environment suited to their priorities. The pandemic has permanently shifted how people prefer to work and what benefits they find most important; workers are expecting more from their employers and the facilities they work in with respect to safety, health and well-being.”
Mental health has been an urgent and important focus as the global health crisis continues, he added, “and we’ve provided additional resources, such as counseling sessions and greater flexibility with paid time off, to help employees manage stress, build resiliency and pursue mindfulness.”
The pandemic and social movements have brought diversity and inclusion awareness to an all-time high, “and today’s socially minded talent pool is drawn to employers that offer meaningful D&I programs,” Garofalo noted. “Companies that focus on creating a strong culture of diversity and inclusion reap several benefits, including greater innovation, stronger employee engagement and productivity, and a positive impact on their bottom line. We at Bank of America are focused on the representation of our people – which includes mirroring the clients and communities we serve. In addition to offering competitive wages and a comprehensive benefits package to support the financial and overall wellness of our employees, we champion diversity and inclusion through a number of initiatives.” In 2021, for example, Bank of America made a $1.25 billion commitment over five years to advance racial equality and economic opportunity by building on economic mobility and workforce development programs we support in local markets.
“Despite the steady growth over the last year, the restaurant and hospitality industry still hasn’t recovered more than 800,000 jobs nationally – or nearly 7% –of the jobs lost in the pandemic,” according to Dana Lancellotti, president and CEO of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association. “Locally, according to New Jersey Department of Labor statistics, 150,000 jobs in the foodservice industry were lost at the start of the pandemic. It’s estimated 90,000 jobs still need to be filled.”
Despite a number of incentive programs, like “return-and-earn or hiring bonuses,” Lancellotti said that “nearly all industries in New Jersey still find it hard to attract and hire new employees. … I think the state needs to engage in more discussions with small business owners to have a more in-depth understanding of what employers are hearing and seeing as they navigate the labor workforce shortage. There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution to solving the workforce crisis, and change will not happen overnight.
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