Albany Times Union

Park drops ban

Park loosens rules, adds cash bonus in attempt to attract much-needed workers

- By Rick Karlin

The Great Escape is loosening its rules on grooming and adding a cash bonus in an attempt to attract much needed workers.

As Great Escape, like other businesses, struggles to get enough employees, they are dropping their “grooming guidelines” that required workers not to have “piercings, tattoos and unique hairstyles.”

While frowned upon in the past, those personal fashion statements are now “all welcome when you join the Six Flags team.”

And they are offering a 10 percent cash bonus to people who start work before

Thursday, July 1, and stay through Sept. 12.

Some of their entry-level positions are starting at $15 an hour. Great Escape is part of the Six Flags corporate fleet of amusement parks.

“We have updated our team member dress code policies to allow for more individual expression, while still maintainin­g a family-friendly environmen­t/ atmosphere. Six Flags is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environmen­t for guests and team members alike,” spokeswoma­n Brit Gillespie said in a prepared statement.

Among the openings they still have are lifeguards, ride operators, security guards and food service workers.

The park never opened last summer due to the pandemic.

And like other businesses, especially in tourist-dependent areas like Lake George and Saratoga Springs, they are competing vigorously for workers.

Leisure and hospitalit­y workers were the first to lose their jobs and the hardest-hit by the pandemic as countless restaurant­s and tourist attraction­s closed or cut back their hours due to COVID -19 last year.

Now, as they are reopening, these businesses are seeking to lure back workers, who may have gone into other occupation­s or who are remaining unemployed, thanks in part to the additional $300 the federal government has offered in weekly unemployme­nt benefits.

Great Escape is a major employer in the area, and earlier in the year they said they needed 1,500 workers for the summer.

Another employer, the Saratoga Race Course 25 miles south, has also started staffing up for the annual 40-day thoroughbr­ed meet that starts in July.

There, the New York Racing Associatio­n, which runs the track, is hiring betting clerks, concession workers and others, with some jobs paying up to $20 an hour.

“Everybody is stealing from each other,” Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, said of the competitio­n to get workers.

Saratoga County’s unemployme­nt rate has fallen below 4 percent and every sector of the local economy is facing a labor shortage.

“This is a multifacet­ed challenge,” Shimkus said, explaining that some people are choosing to stay on unemployme­nt.

But there are other factors as well.

There’s been a curtailmen­t of workers who typically visit from abroad on work or student visas. European college students who clean hotel rooms and Central American laborers who work in fields like landscapin­g are both in short supply this year.

Moreover, many baby boomers , their bank accounts swollen with a strong stock market, are retiring.

“The pandemic has impacted all of these decisions,” Shimkus said.

“Some employers are raising pay rates and offering bonuses. Some are closing for a day or two to be able to operate with fewer staff. People are going to need to be patient this summer. Enjoy the time we have together and be respectful of the staff that is working because chances are they will be working harder than ever before,” said Shimkus.

Those interested in working at Great Escape should go to sixflagsjo­

 ?? Times Union archive ?? Great Escape, like other tourist-related businesses in the Lake George and Saratoga areas, is competing for employees this summer.
Times Union archive Great Escape, like other tourist-related businesses in the Lake George and Saratoga areas, is competing for employees this summer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States