Top Workplaces: Minnesota employers want you By Katy Read

Jan 31, 2017, 07:39 PM

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(music) Top Workplaces: Minnesota employers want you With a tightening labor pool and below-average unemployment, Minnesota companies are offering unusual incentives to attract and retain qualified workers.  By Katy Read Star Tribune June 24, 2016 — 3:45pm Want to make an extra $100 every month, indefinitely, for doing nothing? Well, almost nothing. You just have to find a plumber and refer him or her to Bonfe Plumbing, Heating & Air Service in St. Paul. If Bonfe hires your candidate, the company will pay you — you, random member of the public who doesn’t even work for Bonfe — a cool Benjamin a month as long as that plumber stays with Bonfe. Tempted to round up a bunch of plumbers and turn it into a nice little side business? Good luck with that. The human resources professionals whose whole job is recruiting plumbers — or electricians, health-care providers, construction workers, financial specialists, truck drivers and many other workers in a wide variety of industries — are having a tough enough time of it themselves these days. “We’re always recruiting, always looking for people, always working through the process and interviewing,” said Betsy Senarighi, Bonfe’s human resources manager, who is also in the market for electricians, appliance technicians and HVAC installers. Bonfe’s current limited-time deal applies only to plumbers, but the company frequently offers other recruiting specials. “It’s pretty rare that our needs are full at any given time,” she says. Bonfe’s program is more outside-the-box than most. But as Minnesota businesses — even companies that, like Bonfe, are on the Star Tribune’s 2016 Top Workplaces list — face an ever-tightening labor market they’ve had to up their game for hiring and retaining qualified workers. Companies are enticing employees with such incentives as signing bonuses, flexible schedules, opportunities to work remotely, and paid parental leave. Not to mention employee appreciation programs. Pizza parties. Casual Fridays — along with casual Mondays through Thursdays. Dog-friendly offices. Yoga classes. Donut Thursdays. What about plain old money? Nationally, that hasn’t been happening, at least not so far. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, employee compensation (including wages and benefits) as a percentage of gross domestic product peaked in 1970 and has been declining pretty steadily since then. It’s currently near 60-year lows, barely budging since the latest recession. During that same period, corporate profits have zoomed to nearly 60-year highs. A tightening labor market could start to push wages up. With the baby boomer generation entering retirement age — 10,000 people a day turn 65, and will continue doing so until about 2030 — the number of available employees is shrinking across a wide variety of industries. Surprised? You’re not alone. For many people, memories of recessionary unemployment are still fresh. But that’s so 2009. The market turned between 2010 and 2015, when the labor force grew by less than half a percent a year, the lowest rate since World War II, according to a report by the Conference Board, a business research organization. The report warns of shrinking labor supplies, even labor shortages, in the United States and other countries. Nationally, the tightest job markets, according to the report, include occupational and physical therapy, math and science occupations, health care, religious workers, skilled labor (plant and system operators, transportation workers, machinists, installation and repair specialists), social scientists and construction workers. State’s labor pool is shrinking Min...