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President's Message

June 2022

From the Business Perspective Newsletter

The top priority for business

For the past year one topic has dominated our conversations with businesses: the challenge of attracting, retaining and aligning talent.

If there’s a day we’re not talking about the workforce shortage with a business leader, then it’s because it’s a rare day when we’re just not talking to anyone. We’ve heard from businesses of all sizes, from businesses employing fewer than ten, to those who employ hundreds or thousands, that the talent situation is serious.

We witness the impact throughout the community, as wage and supply chain pressures continue to increase and the labor market shrinks. We recently received the preliminary Kansas Labor Force & Unemployment Data for April. The unemployment rate statewide held steady at 2.4% from the previous month, but Johnson County dipped further still from 2.2% to 1.7%. This means that with a labor force of 349,597, there are only 5,984 unemployed, potential job seekers.

It’s not an employers’ market with this shortage of workforce. You see some of the immediate impacts in cancelled flights, closed dining rooms and higher prices, but it’s also evident in teams who are stressed covering hard-to-fill positions. Some of the challenges we’ve heard recently from local employers include:
• Insufficient numbers of qualified applicants, with single businesses consistently reporting open positions numbering in the hundreds
• “Ghosting” by applicants or new hires
• Local talent being recruited by east and west coast employers offering remote work and large salaries
• Referral fees, sign-on bonuses and substantial raises
• Lack of sufficient childcare resources
• Workplace culture more challenging to create/sustain with hybrid or remote workforces
• Identification of looming professional development gap from lack of mentorship/culture resulting from fully remote work and lack of connectivity

With these challenges come opportunities. The Chamber Board and staff team are working on initiatives to address these issues and more, collaborating with businesses, regional partners and the education community.

We’d love to hear what’s happening in your business. Contact me, Beth, Kevin, or Tim to let us know your thoughts; call us at (913) 491-3600

Tracey Osborne Oltjen

written by

Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM

President & CEO