Overcoming Hiring Challenges

Lenny Huiras, Vital Signs NW, says his shop had to regroup and implement the 80/20 rule when short-staffed

Each year has its set of challenges. There is no way around that!

I had the opportunity to reflect on this past year and its unique set of challenges. I think we could all agree that one of the greatest challenges is hiring. We had job openings listed online for almost nine months before receiving applications.

In early 2021, we decided to try a different approach to hiring. That included the possibility of moving, so we traveled from Oregon to Texas to meet some friends who are also in the decoration industry. We looked at commercial buildings and attended a trade show in Fort Worth, Texas. We found that hiring was an issue across the board for every company we spoke with. We realized that moving would not solve our problem, and we had to regroup.

We decided to implement the 80/20 rule and focus our attention on the 20% of our clients who made up the most of our business. This helped us to focus on streamlining our workflow and processes while we were short-staffed — all while maintaining our turnaround times.

As the year went on and our state began to pull back benefits, we received applications. This is where the real challenge started. We had three positions to fill and interviewed 10 people out of the 25 applications we received. We were excited to have four great candidates!

We believe in hiring slow to ensure we have found the right person for the position, and we learned the hard way that hiring in the current climate is a first-come-first-serve game. By the time we finished interviews and called each candidate to offer them a position, two of them had accepted positions with other companies. It was frustrating, but we learned that we have to be quicker to make decisions in this ever-changing climate.

We were happy to have the other two applicants join our team. To get them trained and up to speed with our processes, we teamed each person up with a seasoned employee and let them work side by side. In our experience, hands-on, on-the-job training is the quickest way to get new hires trained. Let them get their hands dirty!

Although 2021 provided unique challenges, our team rose to the occasion and had our most prosperous year. We are excited to continue further streamlining workflow for an even greater 2022.

Through these challenges, we can get better every year!


Lenny Huiras

Lenny Huiras and his wife, Andi, own and operate Vital Signs NW in Winston, Oregon. Over the last seven years, they have grown into a complete customization shop, specializing in screen printing, digital printing, sublimation, laser engraving, and sandcarving.

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