Realtors to offer free seminar

It can be one of the most frustrating parts of running a small business – you hire new employees and spend good money to train them, only to see them leave for perceived greener pastures a couple of months later.

Not only can this kind of constant turnover be maddening, it’s also extremely hurtful to a company’s bottom line. But what if a program existed that could help business owners cost-effectively retain these employees for the long term?

Now there is, courtesy of the Housing Opportunity Partner committee of the Sussex County Association of Realtors (SCAOR).

Dubbed Employer Assisted Housing, or EAH, the program tackles what is often one of the biggest hurdles to new employees living and working in southern Delaware – the rising cost of real estate.

A local version of a national program, EAH is an employer-based benefit that aims to help employees move beyond the most common homeownership hurdles. This enables them to purchase, or rent, a home – often within neighborhoods located near their workplace.

According to the National Housing Institute, a properly implemented EAH program benefits all parties involved:

• The employer enjoys the benefits of a more stable workforce when employees live near work. Improved morale, less turnover and reduced recruitment result in bottom-line savings.

• In addition to receiving financial support from an employer to buy a home closer to work, the employee also gains extra time, formerly spent commuting, for family or community life.

• The surrounding community benefits from the new investment and property taxes, as former commuters buy homes near their jobsite.

While the makeup of Sussex County is markedly different from the nation’s metropolitan areas, NHI’s points are still valid, SCAOR representative said. It needs to be easier for workers to live in the areas where they work, and the EAH program helps enormously in that regard.

“We recognize that it isn’t always easy for new members of the workforce to find affordable housing in Sussex County, which is why learning about this new program is so important for business owners,” said Judy Dean, 2010 president of SCAOR. “Utilizing the information in this program can really go a long way toward keeping a workforce intact, which helps businesses grow in the long term.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 25, the Sussex County Association of Realtors will host an early-morning seminar for all local business owners, at its headquarters just east of Georgetown. The benefits of the new program will be discussed, including:

• Improved retention;

• More effective recruitment;

• Reduced training costs;

• Increased productivity and morale;

• Strengthening the bottom line;

• Low or no cost to the business owner.

“A program like this has never been more important than it is right now, with business costs rising and the economy struggling to recover nationwide,” said Dean. “We invite all business owners in southern Delaware to join us for this informational get together, as we delve into the EAH program and the ways you can use it to strengthen your business moving forward. Working together, we can all make Sussex County an even better place to live and work.”

The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that it costs a business $3,500 to replace one $8-per-hour employee when all costs are considered. Those costs include recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, reduced productivity and more.

The more workers that need replaced, the higher the costs for the employer and the more difficult it is for the company to make a profit. Thus, using the EAH program to offer homeownership counseling and financial assistance to employees can prove invaluable to the small business owner, according to SCAOR.

“We are very proud to be a part of this national program, and we hope many area business owners will want to learn how to use this information to strengthen their companies,” said Dean. “Together, we can continue making the dream of homeownership a reality in Sussex County.”

The EAH program at the Sussex County Association of Realtors headquarters building will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 25, beginning at 8 a.m. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, or for directions, contact TracyLee Elmore at (302) 855-2300, ext. 205, or