Feedback: June 2022

by Martijn Pierik, Skyler Reeves, Hilary Samples 

Q: What has been your biggest workforce issue or challenge over the past year or so, and how have you addressed it?

Martijn Pierik

CEO and Managing Partner
Sector: Marketing

We faced a number of workforce challenges over the past 12-18 months, but the biggest one we faced is working remotely and how to maintain a strong company culture. 

When our leadership team realized how overwhelmed we all were, how different each person’s overwhelm is, and how we’d really only get through this by holding each other up, we started our daily Nine at Nine ritual. It’s a quick 9:00 a.m. check-in where each person lists: three things to know, three priorities for today, and three things they need. The first part is about sharing something personal to strengthen our personal bonds and gain better understanding of what’s important in our colleagues’ lives. The second is to help focus on putting one foot ahead of the next in this changed world. The final three are about getting support from others and taking care of yourself.

It became a standing meeting at 9:00 a.m. throughout the lockdown, and although not mandatory, no one on the team would miss it. Although we’re back in the office three days a week now, the work-from-home culture has now become part of our business DNA.

As founder and managing partner of Kiterocket and Impress Labs, Martijn Pierik brings to the team nearly 20 years of experience in public relations, journalism and marketing for the technology industry. He has advised C-suite executives at large global tech companies, helped fund and launch dozens of startups, and built up numerous client companies for successful acquisitions. 

Skyler Reeves 

Vivili Hospitality Group
Sector: Hospitality 

The labor shortage has undeniably been the biggest challenge in the restaurant industry and is the one that is the most rampant. The hiring landscape has significantly shifted during the pandemic and our industry has been among the hardest hit. At Vivili Hospitality Group, we’ve had to get creative in an attempt to attract top talent. We’ve done a number of things to address this, but a main initiative was implementing a tuition reimbursement program to pay for college, no strings attached of requiring employment beyond graduation or restrictions on majors. 

We started with our local college here in Prescott, Yavapai College, and are looking to expand the program to include Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University soon. This helps with the more immediate need of incentivizing new and current employees to properly staff our restaurants but, even more importantly, it helps us invest back in employees and, in turn, the community. We’ve found the creation of this program helps us appeal to the type of employee everyone seeks — the hardworking and goal-oriented. 

Skyler Reeves is the proprietor of Vivili Hospitality Group, headquartered in Prescott, Ariz. He is the largest restauranteur in the region, employing more than 150 people across six thriving restaurants that include La Planchada, The County Seat, The Barley Hound, Taco Don’s and two Rosa’s Pizzeria locations, plus a full-service catering and events company, Hawk & Hound. 

Hilary Samples 

Marketing Director
Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery
Sector: Death Care

The biggest workforce issue we’ve experienced over the last year is filling positions. Shortly after the pandemic started, it was extremely difficult to find people who wanted to work in the funeral industry. We scheduled interviews, but many candidates wouldn’t even show up. Unfortunately, the number of families in need of our services peaked during the height of the pandemic. While we were short staffed, our funeral directors worked around the clock to make sure our families were taken care of in a timely manner.

The tough times we went through finding reliable staff members taught us that boosting morale is key. People in the funeral home industry get burned out very easily, both physically and emotionally. Many times, our staff members are pulled away from their own families to make sure the needs of the families we serve are met. To keep spirits up and remind them how appreciated they are, our owner surprises employees with complimentary lunches, gift cards and even trivia games with prizes. We feel even the smallest gestures go a long way in reminding our Mountain View family that they are valued and needed. Luckily, we’ve been fortunate enough that we are seeing some normalcy back in our world and people are happy to come to work. 

Hilary Samples is the marketing director of Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery in Mesa. Founded in 1951, the family-owned funeral home is dedicated to helping others through difficult times and values giving back to the community. Our Cemetery and Advanced Planning Specialists, as well as Licensed Funeral Directors and Cremationists are trained to provide exceptional service. 

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