Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Summit County government all strategize how to recruit new employees |

Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Summit County government all strategize how to recruit new employees

All three entities have offered, or will be offering, new bonuses to employees

The inside of the Breckenridge Recreation Center is seen on March 12. During the summer season, the town of Breckenridge has more positions to fill and many of those are for its rec center. In total, the town has about 250 summer seasonal positions while it has around 100 winter seasonal positions.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

Like Frisco and Dillon, government entities like Silverthorne, Breckenridge and Summit County are constantly reevaluating their staffing recruitment and retention strategies. Entities that lean heavily on their seasonal and part-time staff — such as Silverthorne and Breckenridge — use this time of year to post their job openings, and as they do, their teams are brainstorming new ways to fill open positions.

Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland notified Town Council about what his team was planning for the upcoming summer season during a work-session meeting on March 9. Recently Frisco and Dillon have upped their wages and tweaked their retention bonuses. To stay competitive, Hyland suggested the town of Silverthorne do the same.

To start, the town is offering a retention bonus to all employees who were with the town prior to Sept. 1, 2021. Full-time employees who have been with the town less than five years will receive a total of $2,000 and those who have been at the town longer than five years will receive a total of $3,000. Part-time employees will receive between $100 and $400 depending on specifics of the position. The bonuses are broken up into two parts — the first installment will be paid out March 25 and the second Aug. 26.

To fill open positions, Hyland said the town will offer a $2,000 hiring bonus to all new full-time employees and a $400 hiring bonus to new part-time employees, which will be backdated to Sept. 1, 2021.

The town is also planning to adjust wages based on cost of living, so all employees will be earning a 2% raise as of April 3.

During the work session, Hyland said all of these new measures are to keep up with a competitive job market.

“I don’t want to be driving the arms race but I think this is fairly conservative until we might be back saying we might need to tweak here or there,” he said.

The town of Breckenridge is in the midst of reevaluating how to fill its 250 summer positions too. Usually, transit workers will switch from driving winter routes to summer routes, but the majority of its summer seasonal positions are filled by new hires. The town only has around 100 positions during its winter season.

Breckenridge Town Manager Rick Holman said though the town is trying to brainstorm ways to stay competitive, fighting over the same pool of employees is tough.

“Everybody’s competing for the same group of people out there,” Holman said. “As town managers, we discuss this trend of trying to one up the other all the time. That’s not really a sustainable model.”

More recently, Holman said the town did raise wages last year for some of its seasonal positions and also offered a $2,000 bonus to all full-time positions, plus another bonus to part-time employees based on how many hours they worked. He said he wasn’t sure whether or not the town will offer additional bonuses or increased wages but they are in early discussions about pay now.

As to why it’s difficult to hire right now, Holman said he heard a recent presentation where experts suggested the high number of open positions are due to trends partly attributed to the pandemic.

“Many people in resort communities have historically worked two to three jobs, and now that wages are higher and people have received some federal recovery money, they’re finding that people are only working one or two jobs,” Holman said. “The number of people that have been filling these jobs is not necessarily less people but there are less people working multiple jobs right now.”

Unlike Silverthorne or Breckenridge, Summit County government does not rely on a significant number of seasonal staff. Even still, Summit County Manager Scott Vargo said in an email the county is providing sign-on and retention bonuses to positions they have deemed “critical” and that have been particularly challenging to fill. These include Summit County Sheriff’s Office employees, Summit Stage drivers, 911 dispatchers and public health nurses, to name a few. Hiring bonuses are between $1,000 and $3,000 and retention bonuses range from $2,000 to $6,000 annually.

In addition to these bonuses, Vargo said the county is planning to launch a salary survey. The Summit Board of County Commissioners has already directed staff to look into other retention and recruitment strategies, including increased availability of county-owned or leased housing and expanding some of its transitional housing subsidies and down payment assistance programs.

Those interested in exploring job opportunities with Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Summit County should visit each of their websites for more information.

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