Female Ashley Furniture employees recognized

ARCADIA — Two Ashley Furniture Industries employees will be among 130 women to receive awards at a fall gala celebrating women in manufacturing.

Betty Baker, domestic casegoods product engineer, and Megan Molling, global supply optimization manager, were named earlier this month as honorees for STEP Ahead Awards.

The awards are presented by The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Recognizing exceptional women and encouraging them to be mentors is a goal of the awards program, which is part of a larger effort to close the gender gap in manufacturing.

This year’s STEP Ahead Awards will be presented on Nov. 4 at a gala in Washington, D.C.

Survey: Half of businesses cut staff during pandemic

MADISON — Just over half of Wisconsin businesses responding to a recent survey said they cut staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the vast majority are now hiring workers this year.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce — the state’s chamber of commerce — announced results of a summer survey earlier this month. Among those was 52% of respondents saying their companies had to reduce staffing at some point since the pandemic began in spring 2020.

“Government-mandated lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic devastated Wisconsin businesses, forcing

many to cut costs and reduce staff,” WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer stated in the survey’s summary.

However, the survey also had nearly 80% of employers stating that they plan to add staff by the end of this year.

Employers were also asked questions about the pandemic’s impact on their finances, bringing employees back to office settings and incentives offered to workers who get the COVID-19 vaccine.

For example, 74% of those surveyed said their employees have already returned to a workplace setting. Another 20% will have workers who had been home report back into their regular workplace by the end of 2021. Workers will report back in at another 1% of respondents’ companies in 2022, but 5% of survey respondents said their employees will be able to work from home permanently.

Age of Opportunity is set for Sept. 15 at mall

EAU CLAIRE — An annual job and volunteer fair that connects senior citizens with employers and charitable organizations will be Sept. 15 in Oakwood Mall.

The 22nd annual Age of Opportunity Job and Volunteer Fair will run from 9 a.m. to noon that day.

The fair attracts experienced workers ages 55 and older that are searching for employment, project work, flexible hours or volunteer opportunities.

Employers and organizations interested in participating in the event can register via the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce website, EauClaireChamber.org. For more information, employers can contact Kaylynn Stahlbusch by phone at 715-858-0615 or email stahlbusch@eauclairechamber.org.

From staff reports