Employees at Lucid Software in South Jordan know that any time there’s a good powder day in the winter, the owner won’t be in early — he’ll go skiing instead. And they can, too, as long as they do what needs to get done.
For a company like ARUP Laboratories, which has deadlines to return blood-test results to anxiously waiting patients, there isn’t as much flexibility for employees to come in when they want. But the diagnostics company has established scheduling options that help employees take advantage of the great outdoors near its facility in University of Utah Research Park.
At Petzl USA’s offices in West Valley City, the lobby lights go out at 5:15 p.m. as a sign that it’s time for employees to head home to their families or out on some adventure.
“It kind of shows we’re not a culture of who stays the longest and who comes in earliest,” said Lena Laakso, human resources director at the mountaineering and climbing-gear company, on Thursday at the Northern Utah Outdoor Recreational Regional Summit.
Roughly 300 people from government agencies, private companies and nonprofit organizations participated in the event, organized by the state Office of Outdoor Recreation at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox were featured speakers.
Laakso was one of three company officials who discussed the challenges of recruiting and keeping employees, especially talented young ones — an issue of importance to all businesses, not just those that serve the outdoor industry.
Tyler Bench, Lucid Software’s director of digital marketing, said access to the outdoors and Utah’s low cost of living attracted him to the state three years ago “and keeps me here today.”
So when he gets involved in recruiting new employees for Lucid, whose software helps clients build visually striking content for their websites, he emphasizes the Wasatch Front’s “pretty unique environment” for skiing, climbing and mountain biking and the “culture of tolerance” the company has established so employees can take advantage of things like powder days.
With a 24-hour operation, Bench said, it’s easy for employees to make up those lost hours by working shifts outside normal business hours.
Johanna Barraco, director of human services at ARUP, said her company’s roster of employees is as diverse as it gets, from entry-level custodians to people with doctorates studying genomics.
So while flexible scheduling appeals to many, Barraco said other benefits are attractive to others, citing a great interest among ARUP employees for tuition reimbursements, not just for themselves but also for their dependents.
All three speakers saw great value in mentoring young employees, by promoting with older workers and helping them see where they are now and foresee where they want to be in the future.
“I try to be actively involved in goal setting. I’m not afraid to say you’re really good at this and this is a direction you might want to go,” said Lucid’s Bench, noting that in the fast-changing world of technology, “that can be helpful because it’s hard to know where things are going and why.”
How these messages are delivered is crucial, added Barraco.
“Empower, don’t undermine,” she said. “Let them learn from mistakes. Don’t come down hard on them unless it’s a catastrophic mistake. Work with them to turn things around.”