Anjelica Dudek, the marketing coordinator for the Village, mans the table at a local hiring fair at the Village of Rochester Hills June 5.

Anjelica Dudek, the marketing coordinator for the Village, mans the table at a local hiring fair at the Village of Rochester Hills June 5.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Help wanted: Local businesses report a worker shortage

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 23, 2021

 Bill Ocker, the general manager at YogaSix, is hiring two wellness advisors.

Bill Ocker, the general manager at YogaSix, is hiring two wellness advisors.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Businesses across Michigan are struggling to find employees, including some in the Rochester area.

During the pandemic, restaurants and event-based businesses — including the Royal Park Hotel — could no longer host indoor dining, weddings or banquets, and therefore were forced to reduce staff.

But now that COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to lift, and business levels are booming, many are looking to fill their payrolls once again.

“Business levels are very much picking up, based on pent-up demand, so we are thrilled,” said Sue Keels, the general manager of the Royal Park Hotel. “But we also need to find hospitality talent out there.”

The Royal Park Hotel is on the hunt for approximately 50 employees.

“We have positions in our kitchen, in our banquet department. We have staff positions, front desk positions, bellman positions — pretty much anything hotel-related,” Keels explained. “We are looking for students. We are looking for anybody who is looking to make a little bit of extra money on weekends, which tends to be pretty heavy for us. We are flexible.”

Trying to find hospitality talent has been “a little bit of a challenge,” according to Keels.

“We are struggling to find talent, and I think it’s three-fold. People are still collecting unemployment — that is one concern. A second concern is that a lot of parents, especially moms, ended up getting out of the workforce — especially in hospitality. Almost 47% of women in hospitality have left their career to take care of their young children, with home school and all of that. Hopefully, that will turn around,” she said. “Then, there are people who are just getting out of our industry — people who were laid off during the pandemic while many places were closed or were on pause for a long period of time due to COVID-19 mandates and restrictions. A lot of people left the industry and went to different industries, and they aren’t coming back, so it has definitely created this major hole in finding great talent out there.”

Hospitality experience isn’t a necessity for applicants, who can apply for positions online at www.royalparkhotel.net.

“We’re looking for personality, so you don’t necessarily have to have a lot of hospitality experience, because we are willing to train,” Keels added. “It’s a great business to get into, because it’s going to be booming in the next two-three years, so you will have an opportunity to really learn the hotel industry.”

Rochester Downtown Development Authority Director Kristi Trevarrow said  COVID-19 staffing shortages are all too common in Michigan.

“It’s a universal issue,” she said. “The challenge is, it’s not an issue that people don’t know there are jobs available. There’s just a lot of factors contributing to why they aren’t seeking jobs at this point.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Michigan is 5.1%, or about 238,000 people. However, many businesses are still struggling to find employees to fill available positions.

In downtown Rochester, most retailers aren’t having trouble finding employees, Trevarrow said, because the majority of merchants are small and usually keep a small staff list to begin with.

“It hasn’t affected them as much, so I do think it is more of a food-based issue, from what’s happening downtown,” she explained.

The Village of Rochester Hills was hoping to lure potential workers back into the job market with a hiring fair June 5, giving potential applicants a chance to win a $50 gift card.

“There has been an influx of help that’s needed throughout most of our stores and restaurants at the Village. A lot of it is retail-based and culinary-based,” said Anjelica Dudek, the marketing coordinator for the Village.

Nine businesses in the culinary field and over 30 retail stores — including YogaSix — participated in the job fair.

Yoga Six General Manager Bill Ocker said his fitness studio has been lucky to secure talented employees throughout the pandemic.

“I’ve been getting a lot of applications from people, and I think it’s for two reasons. First, I think the fitness community is going to take off again because people are wanting to get back in the studio and be healthy. Also, by raising our minimum hiring rate to $12 an hour and giving people commission on things that they sell, I think that has really driven some of the people to us,” he explained.

Ocker was hoping to recruit two wellness advisors to staff the studio’s front desk during the event.

“I’m trying to find people that like to talk to people. That’s what I look for. If people have a great attitude and are fun,” he said.

After the event, Dudek said 24 people — ranging from high school students to those who have been in the restaurant service industry for decades — approached the hiring fair table June 5.

“Some seemed so focused on the hiring information that they were not even interested in signing up for our gift card giveaway raffle,” she said. “I spotted many of them walking all around the property and into stores with resumes in hand, coming out of various stores with fewer and fewer resumes in hand. So I’d say the event was a success.”

At press time, there were still a wide variety of full-time and part-time job opportunities available at the Village. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit www.TheV ORH.com/Employment.