Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Importance of Transparency

Kelcy Fowler

The trials and errors of life teach us that things generally turn out better when we have more knowledge, interact with honest communication, and are overall better prepared for whatever we’re going into. Be that a relationship, an adventure, or an investment (which for job seekers, accepting one of your opportunities would entail all three), the more that we know about ourselves and the various elements and conditions at play, the better we’re going to fare in that endeavor.

For candidates entering into an employment relationship with a new employer, they’re branching out big time, often traveling cross country to a place that they’ve never been before. People make an enormous investment, not only financially, but also with the most valued currency of all – their time – by being willing to come and join your team and help you do the work that you do.

Employers are often hesitant or unclear on how to further embrace and adopt a policy of transparency to a greater degree in their recruiting, so we’ve put together this resource to try and help make the case for why transparency should be considered at every turn in the employer/employee relationship, and areas where you can focus on increasing transparency. Let’s start with the Why’s of improving transparency: 

  1. Trust. Setting the tone as an honest, respectful and caring employer from day one will not only make all the difference in the world when it comes to the relationship that you have with your employees, but it will also save you so many headaches, sleepless nights, and really uncomfortable encounters in the long run. Seeking to educate and dialog with your candidate / applicant / new hire / employee at every step in the process not only works to reduce no-shows, turnover, and misaligned ideas of what’s expected, it sets a foundation of care and investment. We all want to know that we’re cared about, appreciated, and that our efforts matter. By giving the whole truth to someone and allowing and encouraging them to ask you questions, you’re laying the groundwork for a healthy and productive professional relationship. No one wants to be a part of something dysfunctional. By not being as open as you could be, or maybe by being too busy to tend to transparency, what unintended and negative signals could you be sending?
  2. Expectations and Knowledge. “What am I signing up for here?” There are some pretty essential components of considering employment that we all need to know in order to evaluate whether or not the position is feasible to pursue. We get it – the wages/benefits of most seasonal or entry level positions are often not the top selling point of the job. It’s the whales, the hoodoos, the canyons, the sunsets, the camaraderie, the experiences that you’re wanting to put at the forefront of your recruiting message. You’re hoping to help someone fall in love with the idea of working at your great place first, so that when you tell them how much the position pays, it won’t be such a pill to swallow. (I understand, I’ve been in the recruiter’s chair, and at one time this was my approach as well.) “Just let me tell you about how great it is to work here before we get around to the finer details.” Here’s why that approach often comes up short. They’re already open and interested in the possibility of working with you – that’s why they’re engaged – whether that be in reading about your opportunities or pursuing the idea of your jobs to begin with. By withholding pretty necessary 1st step information like starting wages, position dates, schedule, housing logistics and costs, etc – you’re likely making it harder on yourself by discouraging that reader from taking the steps to apply by not providing these details up front. They just need to be able to do some quick math. “Can I pay my bills and afford to do this? If yes, and I like what else I’m seeing here then maybe I’ll go ahead and apply and see where it goes!” If you’re not willing to provide your applicant with the up front details of the job from the start, (if anything) what can you really expect in return?

So now that we’ve established why transparency is so important in establishing healthy relationships with your future staff, let’s look at some areas where you can start striving to be more open during the recruiting and hiring process.

Wages / Compensation – In the seasonal world, this means not only Salary/Hourly wage, but also potentially room and board, hours available, unique benefits (free ski pass, discounts on goods and services, access to guest amenities, etc.), end-of-season/season completion bonuses, etc. As alluded to earlier, most candidates aren’t expecting the world in terms of compensation, but they do need to be able to calculate whether they’ll be able to make the trip to and time spent with your organization a feasible endeavor. Don’t inflate expectations in this area – it will only serve to damage your relationship with staff.

Housing – Be open and honest about your housing. This includes the description of facilities you provide, how many people to a room, WiFi/phone service, shared/private bathroom facilities, cost, availability of couples housing, etc. Housing is a basic creature comfort that all of us need, and some candidates have more particular requirements then others, and sugarcoating your housing options might help attract more applications and candidates, but it will almost certainly result in high, expensive turnover as well as do long-term damage to your reputation.

Season Dates and Scheduling – Communicate how long you need candidates to be available, and whether or not shorter/flexible season dates are available. Also, be very clear about what a normal work week looks like (generally 2 days off? 6 day work weeks? 10 days on / 4 days off?). Some job seekers want more time to explore and enjoy your area, while some want to work and save as much as possible. Make sure you’re attracting the candidate best suited for the needs of your position by openly communicating what their time with your company will look like.

Employee / guest safety – Even with more widely-available vaccines and testing, Covid-19 is going to continue to affect our lives for some time to come, and job seekers expect specifics regarding what programs employers have implemented to address the safety of their staff and guests. If you aren’t referencing Covid safety protocol in your recruitment materials – even briefly – job seekers may assume that your materials are stale and move on.

Unique and specific job requirements – In the seasonal world, it’s not uncommon for employers – especially smaller operations – to expect their staff to wear a lot of different hats. Plenty of job seekers are comfortable filling numerous roles, but they expect to know what your expectations are before they show up to your location. Are employees expected to interact with guests during outside of normal work shifts? Are employees hired for one role regularly expected to help out in other departments (e.g. Front desk staff help with housekeeping in the mornings, etc.)? Does your company have direct policies about what is or is not permissible for staff to do on their time off on your property? If so, all of these details need to be communicated long before an offer for employment is made.

Put it in writing! – We always encourage job seekers to request the specifics of their employment and housing arrangements before accepting a job so that they have a reference if disputes arise in the future. To the same end, we recommend that all employers furnish their employees with a Contract / Employment Agreement to be signed as a condition of accepting employment that outlines all of the terms, expectations, and responsibilities outlined above. This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page as to what’s being agreed to.

The fewer surprises, the better, and striving for transparency can help build stronger relationships with your staff, promote a healthy work environment, and create a positive environment to deliver a great experience and season for your staff, and ultimately for your guests and you too!