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In the Know: Workforce development

July 29, 2021 By    

In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas and Propane Resources. This month, Sally Meyer, human resources manager at Propane Resources, explains how propane retailers can help recruit and retain top talent at their companies.

QUESTION: What hiring issues do your propane marketer clients face, and how do you recommend they resolve those issues?

ANSWER: We often hear about issues propane retailers face when in the process of hiring employees. This month, we took the question to the front line, asking retailers for their input on the challenges they face and steps they take to entice applicants to apply. Here’s what they had to say.

Their issues

  • We are fighting against the additional government money offered during the pandemic.
  • Finding skilled applicants for driving and service work who are willing to go through training is nearly impossible. Additional training means it will take longer before they can be productive. Also, the pool of good commercial driver’s license (CDL) drivers is small, as many choose over-the-road due to excellent pay and benefits.
  • Competing with larger non-propane companies’ salaries and benefits. (i.e., Fast food restaurants offer $15 an hour with no experience necessary.)
  • There are too many “job-hoppers” looking for work.
  • Many applicants are no-shows for interviews.
  • Finding quality applicants in general is nearly impossible. It takes a special person to do all aspects of a propane job. They must be willing and able to do physical work and paperwork. They must work safely and have attention to detail. On top of these traits, and probably most importantly, they must be good with people.

Their solutions

  • Recruit through our current, good employees. Good knows good, creating a strong work team. Offer an incentive to get them involved.
  • Take the time to get to know the applicant on a more personal level. You’ll get a better “gut” feeling – good or bad. Set up interviews for a time when all members of your team are available to interview the candidate.
  • Do whatever it takes to retain good employees. Valuable, hardworking employees don’t grow on trees. Make them feel valued and appreciated.
  • Encourage current employees to get their CDL, and help them to do so. Offer a raise in pay as they’ll become a more valuable employee.
  • If you see a CDL driver, or any potential employee, out and about, ask if they are happy at their current job. You might learn something about how your competitors treat their employees.
  • Inform applicants we are a smaller, “family-like” business.
  • Let applicants know your business is growing, and it’s a great time to join the team and grow with the company.
  • Be prepared to hire. During the next six to 12 months, more people will return to work as the additional government funding comes to an end.
Sally Meyer


Additional thoughts from our experience

  • Recruit the younger generation. Hire high school students, and offer paid internships to college students. Hire them early, and train them in the propane industry. They’ll learn from your experienced employees. They can do everything but drive the truck, and they’ll grow with the company.
  • Perform “stay interviews” with current employees. Ask them what they like and dislike about the company and their jobs. Ask for their opinions or suggestions for improvements. Listen to your employee, and make them feel heard.
  • Fire negative, non-safe employees. You lose credibility with good employees by keeping the bad around. Good employees leave due to a hostile work environment, or they feel pulled down and therefore underperform.
  • Prepare questions for applicants who respond to ads, and email these questions to them. This helps weed out those applying for jobs en masse and not reading the qualifications listed in your ad. It’s a great time-saver before you reach out to them for an interview.
  • Call the applicant’s work-related references, particularly supervisory, to ask questions about how your applicant performed on their previous job. Call as many professional references as you need. Remember to ask open-ended questions to gain the most information about your applicant.
  • When advertising, don’t post a salary range. This pulls in more candidates – you’ll have more choices and can pay for experience.
  • Spread the word that you are hiring. is an online job board targeting the propane and fuel industries. Craigslist, Indeed, your company’s website and local job boards are other online outlets for posting jobs. Also, use “now hiring” signs in your office and near the street. You can also create and post ads via social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

Adding to hiring troubles is the fact that, as of April 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor reported the number of continuing jobless claims was 3.6 million, and the number of open jobs was 9.3 million. This means even if the jobless rate was zero, we’d still have 5.7 million open jobs to fill.

Our founder, Dwain Willingham, always said, “Hire attitude; train skills.” When you have the chance to hire a go-getter with a good attitude, take advantage. It’ll increase your choices in candidates. Get the new hire the training needed for the industry, and offer the work environment and incentives (flexibility and freedom to create their position) it takes to keep them.

Make your company the place people want to work.

Sally Meyer is human resources manager at Propane Resources. She can be reached at and 913-262-8345.

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