Businesses across the state are feeling the pinch caused by the labor shortage. Washington Hospitality Association President & CEO Anthony Anton estimates that it will be about five years before the shortage ends, leaving many to wonder what they can do. 

In October, Suzan Sturholm, president of All Things HR, presented a webinar for members to learn what is causing the labor shortage. We covered what is causing the shortage in a previous article. Sturholm has some ideas to help you recruit and retain quality employees here.  


Sturholm addressed retention in the second half of her webinar. 

She said you want to be known as an employer of choice. One way to do that is to keep the great employees you already have. 

“We need to be bending over backward to get them to stay,” she said about your top performers. 

She suggests conducting “stay interviews.” You need to know what it is your employees like about their jobs, what their challenges are, not just on the job but at home. “This is the time that we need to tell our employees that we care about them not just as workers but as people.” 

Find out if an employee is interested in climbing the career ladder in your business and what kind of training they will need to get there.  

Ask them what they would change about their jobs and how they would rate management.  

“It’s not a myth that most employees leave because of their manager,” she said. 

Ask your top performers how they like their co-workers. Ask if there is a way management can recognize the hard work of employees, such as an employee of the month award. 


Offer perks and incentives such as free meals or holiday parties. Tasting sessions can not only make your employees feel special, but they also gain knowledge about the meals they are offering to customers. Company swag is nice for the crew, but it is also advertising when taken out in public. 

She also had some ideas about how you can offer flexibility to your top performers. Maybe offer two days off in a row or rotate Friday and Saturday nights off. 


Sturholm talked about how you can recruit the best employees, too.  

First, she recommends making your job listings interesting. Make it sound like an exciting place to work. Don’t forget that starting Jan. 1, 2023, every job listing must include a wage scale or salary range. 

Schedule interviews quickly. Don’t give prospective team members time to find a different job. You can do these interviews via Zoom, over the phone or in person. When you conduct the interview, find out what it is they are looking for in a job, such as what they need from an employer or what they want to do with their future. 

You should also involve your staff in these interviews. Bring a top performer to an interview to see if the potential employee will fit in with your staff. 

Top performers are also a great source of future employees. Ask them to refer a friend and offer bonuses when these referrals are hired or after they have been on the job 90 days or six months. 


Think differently when looking at who you would like to hire. While the Washington Hospitality Association does not recommend hiring anyone younger than 16, many businesses are looking into hiring 16- and 17-year-olds. Ask yourself how your business can appeal to women, and look at your diversity, equity and inclusion policies. 

While hiring great employees is going to be tough for the next few years, but with a little thought and creativity, you can still find some fantastic workers.  

You can watch the complete webinar with Suzan Sturholm on our YouTube channel or you can listen to it here or wherever you get your podcasts. All Things HR is part of the Washington Hospitality advisory network, and if you are interested in a 30-minute consultation with them, make sure you contact your territory manager.