Human Resources Professionals Offer Insights

Looking for cutting-edge benefits for your company in a tight labor market? Consider pet insurance and unlimited vacation time.

Those are some of the perks companies are offering to attract talent, say panelists and sponsors from SFBW’s Excellence in Human Resource Awards.

SFBW Editor Kevin Gale moderated the discussion which was held at the Weston offices of Steven Douglas, the awards’ presenting sponsor. The company provides executive search and interim resources.

The panelists:

• Al Linares, director of human resources at Trump Doral Miami.

• Brian Altschuler, vice president of ancillary operations at Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

• David Tripp, vice president of human resources at Vision Group Holdings.

• Debra McCollough, chief human resources officer at Keefe McCollough.

• Diana Montenegro, human resources director at Baptist Health.

• Jennifer Foreman, vice president of human resources at Mount Sinai Medical Center Miami Beach.

• Johana Bohorquez, senior human resources manager at Medtronic.

• Kathleen Pai, vice president of human resources at Ultimate Software.

• Laurie David Villa, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Spirit Airlines.

• Lynn Cohen, vice president and human resources operations at Pet Supermarket.

• Patti McEwen, vice president of human resources at Envision Physician Services.

• Susan J. Saturday, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at BBX Capital and Bluegreen Vacations.

• Alan Berger, vice president of human resources search at Steven Douglas.

• Stephen Garber, CEO of Third Level.

• Rich Ducharme, senior vice president of sales at Sapoznik Insurance.

• Bonnie Levengood, senior vice president of marketing at MSC Cruises.

This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What are some of the best practices in recruiting amid our very tight labor market?

Tripp: In today’s world with social media, I think the best way to recruit still goes back to referrals. If you do a great job with your employees and they are bragging about you, they’ll bring in employees for you.

Montenegro: Our culture is all about family. The best employees that we get are through our employee referral program. 

Altschuler: When you are talking about technology, the more that you can put it into a mobile, easy way for people to do things, and not only see your marketing but be able to get online and apply, the better. We find that the optimization in mobilization has really helped us. We’ve seen a spike in résumés and applications coming through whenever people can just link and click and apply any time of the day on their smartphones.

Foreman: There’s a lot talk these days about candidate experience, and I think that goes a long way as well. Compared to in the past, you have your career days or whatever and you get a bunch of people in the room and you try to process them through like cattle, as opposed to taking the time to get to know them.

Berger: I think you have to keep that candidate engaged, but you also have to move that process along quickly. In this market, the unemployment rate is so low that candidates are being gobbled up before you are getting to the final stage of your process.

McEwen: There’s so much out there online, such as Glassdoor, that tells about your company. Your own marketing of your company and reputation of your company in the community are really critical in the tight labor market. People don’t want to go work for a “dog” company that Glassdoor has past employees saying bad things about. You have to be socially conscious about what your image is in the recruitment market to get that candidate attraction.

Linares: What’s been working for us is using text messaging, because people do not pick up their phones anymore. Text has been a huge help for us in setting up interviews. We’ve invested in Vonage, which we use to get the word out for mass communications as well for our employees—say, if there’s an emergency.

Garber: The more technological we are as a society and in business and in our recruiting, the more important the actual our human interaction is. And the more we bring a candidate in, you have others than recruiters speak to them. They give them a real sense of what it is like to work there and we’ve been shown that’s really helpful with our clients.

Alan Berger of sponsor StevenDouglas
Debra McCollough of Keefe McCollough
Stephen Garber of sponsor Third Level
Rich Ducharme of sponsor Sapoznik Insurance
Diana Montenegro of Baptist Health
Brian Altschuler of Boca Raton Regional Hospital

Are there any new benefits being offered by your organization?

Pai: Last year, Ultimate Software rolled out unlimited personal time off. That’s unlimited vacation days, and we don’t delineate between vacation and sick time. It goes perfectly with our culture of trust. For us, it has been widely successful and our employees are even more grateful than they’ve ever been. If anything, the number of days our employees take off has gone down. That was not our intention. For us, the more we do for our employees, the more grateful and loyal they are, and the less attrition we have. Our attrition is incredibly low. It’s never been more than 6 percent, which is unheard of in the tech world. 

Tripp: We implemented volunteer time off. We give two extra days off for people who volunteer in the community. That’s been a strong selling point for recruiting millennials who might not care as much about money.

Altschuler: We have a wellness culture and implemented that with at-work care for our employees. They can get primary care from a doctor without having to leave work, which is a great time saver.

Challenges in recruitment was a major topic for panelists
Samantha Downie of MBAF

Levengood: We extended a cruising discount to not only our employees, but the friends of our employees. It helps the employees to understand the product by going on the ships, but they also get feedback from their friends and family on all the offerings we have on the ships. This helps us with sales and providing better customer service. Then we extended it to the military, teachers and government officials, which gave us a lot of fanfare and community recognition. We now offer partner benefits, who can offer benefits to their employees. 

Ducharme: Especially with the tax break we had earlier this year, this is the most interesting year ever, because there is disposable income. Also, what we are finding now with clients, the recruit they are after doesn’t take the job because the benefits being offered are standard. What people are doing for golden handcuffs with new employees is, they are paying off [a percentage of] student loans [based on length of an employee’s tenure at the organization]. Another benefit is, there’s a new-home credit. These are things that you aren’t finding in your typical benefits offering.

McCollough: You can give employees the best benefits in the world and treat them like crap, and they will leave you. 

McEwen: Commuting is becoming more and more of a bigger issue in South Florida. We are starting to lose people who are finding jobs closer to home. 

Foreman: Mount Sinai is located on Miami Beach, and 90 percent of our employees don’t live on Miami Beach because it is too expensive to live there. One of the things we are trying to do now is make services more convenient. One is called Neighborhood Fuel, where you can get your car filled with gas while you are working. There’s this other service from the [Department of Motor Vehicles], called Licensing on Wheels, where they will come to your location. You do a lot to get to work, so we are looking at which services we can bring on-site for you.

Pai: Workplace flexibility: Forget the commute and parking situation. It doesn’t work for every single role, but use it where it can work. Again, trust employees. People will start doing the math on their gas and figuring out how much less time they are on the road and how much more time they have with their families. Those things again go a long way. Forty percent of Ultimate Software’s workforce is virtual. It was a recruitment factor and a selling point. If you are getting your job done, it works. Employees have told us that with the trust we have and the flexibility they have, they will work harder. ♦

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Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

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