Execs Share Staffing Strategies

New Orleans 500 Survey July 2022

NEW ORLEANS — Staffing shortages are creating challenges for New Orleans business owners and executives, according to the July email survey of members of the New Orleans 500, a curated list of “influential, involved and inspiring” area business leaders.

77% of respondents said they are having problems finding employees, but many business leaders are embracing creative solutions. Here are some of the ideas shared by executives who responded to the latest Biz New Orleans “question of the month” survey:

“We have increased employee benefits and raised pay scales. We pay bonuses to current employees who find new employees for us. We carry referral business cards to give to anyone we meet who could be a potentially good employee.” — Gordon Stevens, president/CEO of New Orleans Steamboat Company and Gray Line Tours

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“Children’s hospitals nationally are struggling in recruiting and retaining pediatric specialty physicians, nurses and health professionals generally. Our approach is focused on partnering with academic institutions locally and regionally to ensure a pipeline of well-trained professionals who share our mission focus on impacting the health of an entire generation of young Louisianans.” — Mark Kline, MD, senior vice-president, chief medical officer and physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans; professor of pediatrics at Tulane University and LSU New Orleans

“We have offered current employees a cash stipend if they recommend a candidate for employment in one of our open positions who ultimately gets hired and makes it past the probationary period. I told them I want more candidates that are just like them. I have an awesome team! I have definitely had to shell out some money, but it’s totally worth it to gain quality candidates that do good work. Good qualified people are hard to find!” — Iam Tucker, president/CEO/owner, ILSI Engineering

“Like many employers, we upped our starting wage to $15 per hour two years ago, but we’ve recognized that retention involves a great deal more than wages. Creating and maintaining a culture of innovation that is not top-down, and that provides opportunities for career growth and opportunity is a high priority. One thing we are looking at is providing staff housing. Housing without roommates is out of reach for many of our employees, so I see this as a logical next step. We’re also looking at an exchange program so our construction team might travel to another affiliate and work there when high heat makes working outdoors here less feasible.” — Marguerite Oestreicher, executive director at New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity

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“A broad approach is needed to attract and retain top manufacturing talent in a very competitive market. It’s no longer just pay and benefits. We are focusing more holistically on the ‘employee experience.’ More than ever, employees need to connect with the company they are working with and the leaders within the company. From recruiting, onboarding, flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, active community engagement, and meaningful roles, all aspects of the employee experience need to be addressed. Succession planning and hiring talented people into an organization opportunistically, not just filling a job posting to fill a vacancy, is one way to stay ahead of hiring needs rather than playing catch-up.” — Tom Yura, chief operating officer at Cornerstone Chemical Company

“Always respect and dignify your employees, never talk down to them or be disrespectful. Most importantly offer them flexibility and pay them well.” — Earl Mackie, executive managing director, Mackie One Construction

“The extraordinary demands of the past years have challenged every hospital and health care system. To attract and retain the best health care professionals hospitals must build a healthy and supportive culture and understand and reward employees’ priorities and needs. It isn’t just about base compensation.” —  Stephen Hales, founder of Hales Pediatrics and director of Fidelity Homestead Savings Bank

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“We are fortunate to have some of the best in the local region currently working with us. Creating a culture where people feel both engaged, appreciated, and comfortable is always something we strive to maintain. We have been honored with several awards for our workplace culture in recent years.” — Joe Eagan, general manager at Service Corporation International


The inaugural edition of the New Orleans 500 is a collection of profiles of the city’s influential, involved and inspiring business leaders. Once a month, Biz New Orleans sends an email survey to all the leaders on the New Orleans 500 list to collect data and insights about topics important to the community. This is the latest report in that series.

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