The owner and president of a Northland-based human resource-management company offered advice March 12 to Northland Area Business Association members about attracting and keeping employees when unemployment is low and workers can be hard to find.

In introducing Sharon DeLay, owner and president of GO-HR Human Resource Management & Consulting on Sinclair Road, NABA President Alice Foeller said small businesses such as her own website-development operation struggle with human resources issues like those DeLay's company addresses.

"When I hire someone, I just have to do it in my spare time," Foeller said.

DeLay noted that smaller businesses often can't compete in terms of salary and benefits with larger enterprises, but it's still possible to attract and retain personnel.

She acknowledged that with the federal unemployment rate of 3.8 percent in February, finding employees can be difficult. Some employers, such as hotels, report new hires showing up for a first day and never returning, she said.

"Ghosting is a huge issue right now," DeLay said. "That is something happening in the dating world and now it's happening in the business world."

On average, it takes 36 days for an employer to fill a job opening, she added.

"Some people are quick to hire, quick to fire," DeLay said. "Others are slow to hire and slow to fire."

By 2020, just a year away, 50 percent of the workforce will be from the generation dubbed millennials, according to DeLay, and while some more-seasoned business owners might recoil at that notion, she said those concerns are unfounded.

"They want fair pay," DeLay said. "They want a good work environment. They want to be developed."

Millennials, however, are not looking to stay in a job five years or more, she said. It's more like 18 months to two years "unless you can keep them engaged," DeLay said.

"The experience is what's going to matter to the candidate," she said.

DeLay cautioned the owners of small businesses against being reluctant to offer training opportunities to employees out of fear they will just use what they learn to move on to a next job.

"Somebody else may be training someone who's coming into your business, so it's all the circle of employment," she said.

Other business

In other business at NABA's quarterly luncheon March 12, Foeller said she plans to add committees to the organization in hopes of adding more members.

She said the new committee members will be tasked with organizing events designed to make joining NABA more attractive.

These might include additions to the quarterly lunch gatherings of breakfasts and after-hours meetings, events that were held in the past but have fallen by the wayside in recent years, she said.

Foeller asked NABA members to think of businesses and organizations that might want to host a breakfast meeting or an after-hours get-together for networking purposes.

Foeller also announced that the next luncheon June 11 would be hosted by US Together, a nonprofit immigrant and refugee resettlement organization that has a for-profit job-placement agency.