FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Contact: Alexander Zannes, 808-380-2605 

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Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i Conducts “Return to Work” Survey 

New survey outlines challenges facing businesses looking to hire employees

HONOLULU – The Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i recently conducted a statewide membership survey to determine the challenges facing businesses looking to hire new employees or bring back employees from temporary furlough.  The survey found many businesses across industries have multiple openings and found recruitment challenges are putting pressure on existing employees.

“This reinforces what we’re seeing all across the nation,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i CEO. “Businesses are having a difficult time bringing employees back to work. This situation is repeating itself daily and impacting multiple businesses, large and small. Although the hardest hit industries are hospitality, tourism, and food industry, many more other establishments who have already been severely harmed during the pandemic continue to shoulder the burden by increasing overtime, curb services, and close brick-and-mortar shops several days a week.”

Highlights from the survey can be found below:

  • Respondents were fairly split down the middle around 50/50 on whether they imposed furloughs or permanently laid off employees since March 2020.
  • Over 85% of business respondents have job openings and of the job openings, almost 65% have open positions ranging from 1-10, representative of the small business economy.
  • About 30% are searching to fill more than 11 or more employees with couple dozen looking to hire more than 100 employees.
  • 86% are struggling to find workers to fill job openings.
  • Most (64%) are considering or have considered “raising compensation, benefits, signing bonus, referral bonus, or other incentives to fill positions.”
  • 73% of respondents stated that “recruitment challenge is putting pressure on existing employees” and 60% are having to compensate for the recruitment challenge in the form of overtime, shift schedules, closure of business hours.
  • Overwhelmingly, almost 93% stated that the state should “require unemployed workers to look for work as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits as it did prior to the pandemic.”

The following trade organizations helped to share the survey with their members to solicit business responses: Maui Chamber of Commerce, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, Molokai Chamber of Commerce, Hawai‘i Restaurant Association, Hawai‘i Food Industry Association, Retail Merchants of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Food Manufacturing Association, and Society for Human Resource Management Hawai‘i.

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As the “Voice of Business” in Hawaii, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii is a statewide,
non-profit organization whose mission is to serve as the advocate for business in Hawaii. A recipient of the national ACCE Chamber of the Year Award in 2018, the Chamber’s 4Hawaii efforts serves its 2,000+member organizations and the business community under the pillars of Economy, Environment, Education and Entrepreneurship. The Chamber advocates on behalf of business; supports its members with training, business building and networking opportunities; and serves as a liaison between civilian and military communities, working to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Hawaii. Visit  

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