Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

CoolWorks Coffee Talk Webinar Recap

In mid-April, after many phone conversations checking in with employers currently recruiting on our site, we found that the single most common thing we heard was the question: What are other employers saying and doing about the upcoming summer season?

Here at CoolWorks, we count ourselves lucky to get to work with a wide variety of amazing organizations across the country. We see immense diversity among the employers we serve, and we believe that there is both value and strength to be harvested through connecting you all with each other.

That was the spirit behind our CoolWorks Coffee Talks – a three week webinar series we launched on April 29th.

Our first Coffee Talk was a casual opportunity to catch up, share, and hear what other seasonal employers across many industries are doing to adjust their operations in these challenging times. Out of about 50 seasonal employers from ranches, resorts and lodges, and National Parks, about 75% said they were planning on opening for the summer and most said they were going to have a delayed start.

Communication was a big topic of conversation and leaning to the side of OVER-communicating with applicants and staff who had been hired but not yet arrived was a common theme.

Also discussed was employee travel and stipends for travel, employee housing and the different permutations employers are offering this summer, international workers and what’s happening with J1’s, and we began to touch on onboarding ideas for these times.

The biggest takeaway from Coffee Talk #1? Our community of employers from across various industries share similar challenges now more than ever, and though their counties, parks, states and unique operations are very different – there’s strength in us facing the future together.

You can read a more detailed version of the recap of week one and watch the webinar here.

Our second Coffee Talk on May 6th started off with a look at traffic and trends to CoolWorks as well as current labor market trends. We also discussed suggestions and strategies for employers who are still hiring for the upcoming season.

We were grateful to be joined by Todd with Moby Dick’s Restaurant on Cape Cod, Alex from privately-owned Hill’s Resort in Sandpoint, Idaho, and Lindsey, from Aramark Leisure Services, a large National Park Concessionaire, with a variety of properties in locations including Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Lake Powell, Crater Lake, and Denali.

We dug into more details regarding communication – why it’s important, and creative ways to keep communication flowing. We discussed employee housing, meals, and safety responses, and we ended with taking a dive into Food & Beverage and Operational Logistics.

You can read a more detailed version of the recap of Week Two and watch the webinar here.

In our final Coffee Talk on May 13th we focused on Training and Empowering Staff for the very untraditional season that lies ahead. Special guests Dina Cipollaro-Beck of Fundamental Training Solutions and Katie Porter Mangett, Learning & Development Content Specialist with Xanterra Parks & Resorts in Yellowstone joined us to talk about how we can reimagine traditional training and onboarding (and adaptations already evolving in Employee Ops) to ensure that we prepare and empower our staff so that our organizations can succeed this season.

Key takeaways from week #3: Given the drastic night and day change to the country’s employment (we were sitting at generational low unemployment at 3.5% in February 2020, and are now at 14.7% in April based on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics), the ability to provide people with opportunities at this moment is REALLY powerful and unique. To have a job right now is a big deal – to have a job in a great place is a gift.

There is a need to go “above and beyond” in regards to logistical training in order to address this special season. Employees want to feel cared about, to be part of a team, and want to know that people who they are working with/for will create a safe environment for them. Remember that action and behavior drive culture more than words. Developing a Culture of Trust, Honesty/Transparency and Respect is crucial.

We learned two great exercises to do with staff to keep them engaged and feeling cared about. And we wrapped up our CoolWorks Coffee Talk webinar series with some important reminders for you – our friends on the front lines, hiring and getting ready to open properties.

You can read a more detailed version of the recap of week three here:

We look forward to providing more of these gatherings in the future, so we hope to see you then. Stay safe, be well, and know that your friends here at CoolWorks are here for you. Pick up the phone and reach out if we can ever do anything to support you, or if you could just use a quick break with a friendly voice at the other end of the line. We are rooting for you!