In Paso Robles, our unemployment rate is around 3 percent. That may sound like a good thing as nearly everyone who wants a job has one but this can be frustrating for employers looking to fill vacant positions or expand. Over the past year, the Chamber of Commerce has connected with dozens of business owners who have described their challenges hiring and retaining employees. In fact, during the 2018 Paso Robles Business Walk, 58 out of 179 businesses indicated that hiring and retaining employees was the number one challenge affecting their ability to achieve greater economic success. Wanting to take action, the Chamber focused its recent State of The North County event around workforce development solutions. 

Through a sponsorship from the San Luis Obispo County Workforce Development Board, two keynote speakers offered their professional insight. Josh Williams of BW Research provided statistical data describing the north county workforce and David Shinder engaged attendees with humorous anecdotes of “how to grow your workforce in a full employment economy.” Both presentations are available for viewing and download from the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce website. 

One of the most successful exercises conducted at the event was the Roundtable Wagon Wheel where each table of eight people discussed ways in which their businesses attract and retain employees. Here’s a summary of the top takeaways currently offered by Paso businesses;

Top Hiring Strategies


Emphasize location and compensation — businesses should promote the high quality of life and amenities the Paso Robles region has to offer and ensure their wages are competitive. 

Demonstrate that your business is exciting — employees, especially millennials, want to work for businesses that are innovative, philanthropic and purpose driven.

Initiate an employee referral bonus program — reward employees for recruiting friends and/or industry contacts.

Create a signing bonus — this could help candidates choose your business when selecting from multiple offers.

Offer and promote perks — while not every business can have kombucha on tap, Paso Robles businesses can offer paid parking permits, monthly lunches, tuition reimbursement and gym memberships.

Top Retention Strategies

Provide flexible schedules — this includes flexible hours to accommodate for a positive work-life balance and alternative work weeks such as four 10-hour shifts.

Prepare a predictable schedule — retail and restaurant employees may benefit from set schedules so they can confidently plan their lives.

Offer culture, amenities, and perks — free snacks and coffee, comfortable employee lounges, employee rewards, and paid time off to volunteer are some of the workplace trends offered by Paso Robles businesses. 

Invest in employees — conferences, educational courses, and training are ways to elevate the quality and productivity of your employees. 

Retirement account opportunities — this is a key selling point to encourage employees to participate in a retirement program.