It is well known that a lack of adequate staffing is impacting businesses across the country and is the top challenge for many of our area businesses.

Not only is that negatively impacting business operations, but customers are also frustrated. Heck, how bummed were people that they couldn’t get their Starbucks Latte or Smokey’s BBQ due to lack of staff? I get it.

We are trying to understand what caused this issue. From what I read, there are multiple reasons. COVID of course, but also retirements, resignations, population loss, availability of remote employment, high child care costs, and the list goes on and on.

Now before we all say woe is us, the good news is there are multiple initiatives to help us alleviate and solve the problem, just as multiple sources created this predicament.

Training programs at the Charleston schools, Mattoon schools, Lake Land, and others are preparing the workforce of tomorrow.

Also, these programs provide exposure to opportunities in Coles County, keeping our future business leaders in the area. Businesses are offering incentives and implementing programs to improve productivity, worker satisfaction, and workplace culture.

Coles Together has planned and organized tours of area businesses to help highlight their operations and opportunities while building relationships with future employees.

The Chamber of Commerce, including local, state, and national leaders, are very involved in promoting solutions. For example, Senate Bill 3719 is the Illinois Chamber’s initiative to help solve the shortage of CDL truck drivers by offering incentives to both the employee and the employer.


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Locally, the Charleston Chamber has partnered with Eastern Illinois University to place marketing interns at area businesses. Manpower just established an office within our Chamber building. Their presence in Charleston simplifies the process of recruiting for Charleston-based businesses.

And last but not least, our team is working on a webinar with Manpower that will focus on how companies can close the gap with their hiring needs considering the candidate/labor shortage they are experiencing.

Its purpose is to help prepare businesses for a candidate-driven labor market, which is causing challenges with the recruiting and hiring processes.

If you really enjoy your work and want to share ways you believe the culture in your office could help other businesses, we want to hear from you. What could other local businesses learn from your experience?

Doug Abolt is president and CEO for the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce.

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