Towns of Dillon, Frisco work on incentives for recruitment and retention |

Towns of Dillon, Frisco work on incentives for recruitment and retention

A sign for boat rentals is pictured April 12, 2021, at Dillon Marina. Both the towns of Dillon and Frisco are increasing perks in order to recruit seasonal workers, such as those working at each town’s marina.
Sawyer D'Argonne/Summit Daily News archive

Businesses across Summit County are struggling to staff up amid low unemployment, and local governments are having the same issues. Both the towns of Dillon and Frisco discussed how to adjust incentives for recruitment and retention at recent meetings to make sure they have enough seasonal staff for the summer and beyond.

At a work session Tuesday, Feb. 15, Dillon Town Council went forward with creating a bonus of $2 per hour for every hour worked to be paid on the second check of month. Dillon Finance Director Carri McDonnell said the bonus effectively raises the $15 an hour starting wage to $17 an hour.

Dillon will also implement a $200 referral bonus for existing employees. The new employee would have to work 60 days before the referral bonus would be paid.

Another new incentive for seasonal staff is giving a $200 City Market gift card after a person’s first week of work. Council member Kyle Hendricks said that a gift card may not be enough, and council member Renee Imamura agreed that it could be higher, but she said that it is a good stopgap.

“Maybe they don’t have enough money for gas or food and they’re waiting for that first paycheck, so I think that is a brilliant idea,” Imamura said.

Council members also noted that they want to work harder to convert seasonal employees to full-time employees.

“There are more things coming down the pipe, it’s just that it’s a lot more expensive than a seasonal position,” McDonnell said. “… We hear that loud and clear and we totally agree that we need to convert more to full time.”

The gift card program would cost the town of Dillon approximately $12,000, the $2 bonus would cost approximately $50,000 and the referral bonus is likely less than $1,000, but staff noted that it is hard to determine.

The town of Frisco already has gift card program in place where Peninsula Recreation Area can receive $25 to stores like Safeway or Walmart if they work five days over a seven-day period.

“We just started doing this a few weeks ago and, knock on wood, we have not had employees calling out, and we’ve had everyone raving about how exciting that is,” interim Frisco Town Manager Diane McBride said at a work session Tuesday, Feb. 22. “Something is working.”

At the session, Frisco Town Council supported staff’s idea to increase its seasonal starting wage from $15 to $17 an hour as well. Some council members, like Andrew Aerenson, voiced concern about upping the wage before data from a compensation study came in, which staff said could take a couple of months. Staff said seasonal summer jobs are posted in March because it’s important to grab the best candidates early.

“The longer you wait trying to get these summer seasonal employees, the harder it is,” McBride said. “The good ones, they get those jobs right away and they’re gone. We want to be right there at the top, recruiting as quickly as possible.”

The estimated cost for the increase, not including correcting for payment compression, would be around $45,000 in 2022 and grow to around $50,000 by 2025.

“In today’s world during the ‘Great Resignation,’ this is wholly important,” council member Andy Held said. “I believe we need every bit of it and more.”

The work session also talked about maintaining, adjusting and adding nonmonetary incentives. Some of these vary depending on status or location — such as a new perk making winter boat storage available specific to marina employees depending on seniority — while others are more universal. Much of the across-the-board changes involve expanding 30% discounts, like marina rentals, Nordic rentals for friends and family or various merchandise, up to 50%. Popular and successful incentives like unlimited access to the tubing hill or free use of the public works department wash bay remain unchanged.

“I think it’s defendable and I think it makes sense,” Fallon said. “The package is so comprehensive, you leverage every aspect of everything we offer.”

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