In the News

Posted on December 29, 2021


South Dakota’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.7 percent in November. An incredibly tight labor market for the thousands of employers across the state searching for more help. The competitive hiring market has led to a wage war, increasing starting salaries across many different entry-level industries.

In a record year for new construction projects in South Dakota’s two largest cities.

Construction companies are continually looking for more workers to keep up with increased demand.

“We are hiring nonstop, we are continuing to grow,” Journey Group Human Resources Director, Jolene Smith, said.

Journey Group has more than 360 employees across four divisions working in Sioux Falls, Spearfish, and Sioux City.

“All related to the construction industry.”

The industry hasn’t escaped the impact of the constant competition for employees that’s happening all over the country right now.

“It has definitely become harder, especially since COVID has hit. One of the biggest issues we face is the wage increases,” Smith said. “We are competing not just with other construction companies but with other entry-level markets. When you see the department stores, fast food chains, hiring in at 15, 16, 17 dollars an hour, that changes the entire labor market for all industries, particularly construction.”

But even as the Journey Group looks to compete by raising wages, it’s also making a big investment in another area.

“One of our values is our people, we care about our people, not just their numbers per say, we care about their health and their family,” Smith said.

“They want to feel valued and cared about and one-way employers can help people feel truly valued and cared about is the opportunity to take care of themselves and their families while they’re at work,” Well365 Founder and CEO, Trisha Dohn, said.

That kind of employee-focused workplace has become a big attraction for new applicants.

“With the different generations that have come into place, they are looking at what does an employer offer, and the flexible schedule, the wellness benefit… The younger generation is much more mindful of their health and wellbeing,” Dohn said.

It’s why many companies are providing employees with wellness initiatives and programs.

“Every company is pretty unique in what they offer, just wanting to introduce wellness into the workplace, whether its quarterly luncheons or workshops, just to bring health and wellness into the workplace,” Dohn said.

It’s something Well365 founder Trishia Dohn has worked with for years, but she says it’s a concept that’s really taken off.

“Probably in the last 5 years, where employers are really putting in more of a strategic look at wellness as part of their wellness package.”

Whether it’s providing education, challenges, seminars, or fitness groups, companies are getting creative to help invest in their employees' well-being outside of work.

“We looked at more of a holistic approach, not just the physical wellness, but also the spiritual, mental, financial, etc. So, there’s a lot of different aspects of wellness that we really wanted to focus on because not everyone needs the same things,” Smith said.

“Especially with the pandemic in the last year and a half, employers have learned the word flexibility. Whether it’s in the workplace or work schedule, where they’re allowing employees to shift, to take care of themselves when it works for them,” Dohn said.

That can be a challenge in the midst of a historic construction boom.

“Oftentimes they work long hours, they work long days, and they forget to take care of themselves, we’re helping them identify some health risks or concerns they may have,” said Smith.

It's why corporate wellness programs are making it easier for their employees to take time to focus on their health by providing on-site health assessments with nurses.

“We’ve had referrals for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, mental health, smoking. We’ve seen people quit smoking because they know the screening is coming up,” Smith said.

An investment in employees’ health that comes with some big payoffs for employers too.

“Employers are seeing that when individuals are healthier, from a health insurance or health side of things, they’re also going to see trends in the overall cost of health care costs,” Dohn said.

Journey Group passes those health insurance savings onto employees with incentives for lower premiums for participation in wellness programs.

“That wellness benefit helps them physically as well as financially. The benefit for us is we hope to retain our employees longer,” Smith said.

“When employees are feeling valued, they’re going to want to stick around,” Dohn said.

An investment in wellness that’s helping more companies stand out in a crowded field of job openings.

Well365 says programs vary from company to company, but right now a growing number of businesses are coming up with new, unique ways to help create a holistic wellness-centered workplace for employees and in many cases, their families too.

Original article by Bridget Bennett, KELOLAND NEWS.

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