Talent Tips

You have heard me talk many times about the talent shortage or “tight” labor market we are currently facing. We talk with businesses every day about their struggles for talent, what they are doing to attract and retain employees and we provide any type of assistance we can.

One thing we all recognize is that retaining employees is less expensive, and less disruptive for a company. While there is no “secret sauce” to retaining employees, and it will differ from company to company, let’s look at some of the challenges we need to overcome and perhaps provide you with a tip or two that you can incorporate in your business.

Employees are looking for a work culture that fits them. We spend so much time at work each week, we had better enjoy the people and atmosphere that comes with it. Therefore, consider why deliberately creating a positive, inclusive workplace culture is so important for businesses of all sizes and types today.

Employers today have five generations in the workplace. iGen (Generation Z), Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists span the workplace today. That’s a lot of generational differences to bring together and experience a positive workplace and contribute to the success and growth of any business.

Our nation’s norms have dramatically changed, for the better. In many ways we have broken through old stereotypes and today, are more accepting than ever of one another. We have a growing realization that our differences are valuable in the workplace.

We still have work to do, but we should recognize the progress we have made in raising awareness, acceptance and resistance to negative workplace cultures that hurt others and cause disruption in our organizations.

Finally, employers are in competition for the best and brightest talent. The talent shortfall is the number one challenge facing business owners in every economic sector. It is a buyer’s market for employees, so to speak. Attracting talent with a positive workplace culture, sets your organization apart.

Research by Deloitte found that 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees say culture is important to a business’ success. Seventy-six percent of employees say a clearly defined and articulated business strategy – shared throughout the organization at all levels – help create a positive culture.

Part of the challenge comes from our upbringings and life experiences. The other part, or responsibility, rests with organization leaders and management.

At the Lake Superior Community Partnership – a relatively small organization comprised primarily of women – we work to grow the economic health of the region every day by supporting the needs of employers and employees alike. We are a lean bunch, and every person and their ideas, skills, values and perceptions matter to our ability to carry out our mission, meet the needs of those we serve and to ensuring that our workplace is one we all enjoy and find rewarding. Do we have fun doing it? You bet.

But retaining people has never been easy in my world. These incredible, professional people have gone on to bigger and better opportunities in our region, in part, because of the experience and network they build in our world. I am proud of their accomplishments, support them and know that we have built another layer of LSCP loyalty. Believe it or not, a strong majority of them continue to play a role in economic development by volunteering, serving on boards and committees, attending events and consulting with us.

Emerging Leaders

Because we serve the needs of businesses, we are learning all we can about creating positive cultures so that we maintain ourselves and lend expertise, advice and wisdom to employers and employees throughout our area. Here are a few basic tips we have gleaned for deliberately creating the kind of culture in your workplace that will make everyone want to return each day:

▪ Work with your employees to clearly identify the values that are important to them. State them clearly and often. Walk the talk.

▪ Promote collaboration and communication. Encourage teamwork and cross functioning. Recognize that good ideas and feedback come from every corner of your office.

▪ Create goals, incentives and rewards that everyone can participate in and earn. Make sure the goals are clear and measurements or milestones promote healthy competition. Celebrate all achievements.

▪ Define and promote inclusion. Seek input and seek to understand perspective.

▪ Employers: proactively reach out to employees in different departments and divisions to gain more knowledge.

▪ Lighten up a little! Those of you who worked with me, know that I am a stickler about our dress code. But after much discussion, we now subscribe to “Jeans for Charity” Fridays (and an occasional bring your pup to work) which fund our adopt-a-family during the holidays. Fridays are full of happy people in the office!

▪ Team building. Look for opportunities to do something together outside of the workplace. Whether it is dinner, bowling or a volunteer opportunity, your staff will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere with their colleagues.

If you are concerned about your approach, typically your state or national organization has resources to assist.

Authored by: Amy Clickner, CEcD, CFRM, the CEO of Lake Superior Community Partnership. Amy was the President of MEDA in 2017 and is the Annual Meeting Committee Chair in 2018.


Major Employment Trends Through 2026

In the past I have written about a typical day in the life of an economic developer. My point in that column was that there isn’t a typical day in economic development. Just as your business needs to be nimble and flexible to be successful, so do the services and resources we provide to you.

On top of our everyday tasks, economic developers need to occasionally take a step back to identify emerging trends that may significantly impact our communities and businesses in the future. In this global marketplace, we understand that planning for the future is important, and that what is today will not remain the same. There are opportunities and threats arising all around us which need to be identified in order for our communities and businesses to respond to changes.

The Economic Development Research Partners (EDRP), the think tank of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), recently authored a research paper titled “Future Ready – Preparing for Tomorrow’s Economy.” The report takes a look at anticipated changes in the following areas: workforce, technology, infrastructure, promotion/connecting and how the economic development profession itself may change.

In today’s column I will discuss the section on workforce. It’s a hot topic and most businesses that we meet with are struggling to find talent. So what can we anticipate in the future?

From 2016-2026, we are expecting the following sectors to increase in employment by over one million:

  • Food preparation and serving
  • Healthcare practitioners and technicians
  • Personal care and service
  • Healthcare support

Expected to drop by 4% is manufacturing. Interestingly enough, despite the projected job losses, manufacturing is projected to have nearly 1,000,000 job openings every year over the next decade due in large part to retirements. Therefore, efforts by many in our region to increase the number of young people entering this field are critical to meet future demand.

Looking a little deeper at the four sectors expecting large employment increases, here is a further breakdown of job type. In food preparation, included is food and beverage servers, cooks and food preparers, and supervisors. For healthcare and personal care the jobs expected are:

  • Registered Nurses
  • Physical Therapists
  • Personal Care Aides
  • Personal Appearance Workers
  • Home Health Aides
  • Nursing Assistants
  • Medical Assistants

You can see how these high demand jobs are also connected to the needs of an aging population.

grayscale photography of smiling woman

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The report also projects sectors that will experience skill shortages and high job openings:

  • 121,000 doctors needed by 2030
  • 174,000 truck drivers needed by 2026
  • 2 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2025
  • 446,300 home health care aides needed by 2025

As you can imagine there are many factors that play a role in attempting to predict employment trends. Technology, automation, cobots, robots and the big economy all impact the future. How we prepare as a region to respond to these changes will determine how successful we will be long term.

Authored by: Amy Clickner, CEcD, CFRM, the CEO of Lake Superior Community Partnership. Amy was the President of MEDA in 2017 and is the Annual Meeting Committee Chair in 2018.

Grow Your Talent Pool

Some of us have been around long enough to remember what a tight labor market looks like. It’s certainly better than the alternative. A carefully crafted talent strategy can be the difference between winning projects and being left on the sidelines.

Building Construction 3The first step in a talent strategy is to determine who to collaborate with on implementation. You will need expertise and resources and no economic development agency has enough of either. Colleges, universities and workforce development agencies are obvious partners, but here are a few others you might consider:

  • Public sector – communities can’t grow without jobs and investment
  • Private sector – they have as much to gain as you and they might be willing to provide funding
  • Recruitment agencies – they need talent, too
  • Military branches of government – they offer a ready supply of returning veterans
  • Faith-based organizations – they have great networks
  • Public and intermediate schools – school counselors can guide and influence graduating seniors

Business Professionals2The easiest win in the talent attraction game is commuters. They drive out of your county to pursue higher pay within the region or jobs that aren’t readily available in your area. In a tight labor market, wages typically go up. Companies are desperate for talent and will provide better pay and benefits. The key to this strategy is awareness. Try posting advertisements on well-placed billboards or in newspapers outside the county to announce local job opportunities. Electronic billboards can be an affordable way to post your next job fair or list a company’s hard-to-fill engineering job.

Recruiting talent outside of your area is difficult and can be expensive. First, partner with real estate brokers to develop listings and welcome packets. You’ll need housing if you are going to recruit workforce. Second, identify markets similar to yours where available workers are located. Place advertisements in their local newspapers that point people to a jobs board or website where job postings are available. Companies might help to pay for these ads, so remember to ask.

Emerging Leaders for WebsiteOn average, about 30% of high school graduates are not going to college. This is your workforce of tomorrow. This is a great partnership opportunity for educators, the private sector and economic developers. Professional days, facility tours, company profiles on MI Bright Future and summer camps can help to educate young people regarding employment opportunities. They won’t have a lot of work experience, so promote internships and job shadowing.

These are just a few of the strategies you can employ to recruit talent to your community. As you talk to your partners, you will discover other strategies and programs. Remember that if you do nothing, your talent might be someone else’s target. So be aggressive and you can win the talent war.

Authored by: Dan Casey, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County. Dan is a Member at Large on MEDA’s Board of Directors.

MI Bright Future Helps Support Student Career Awareness Year-Round

lisaOn Oct. 2 – designated as National Manufacturing Day 2015 or MFG Day – more than 100 manufacturing facilities opened their doors to more than 5,000 students across Southeast Michigan, giving them a real-life look at what it is like to be in the manufacturing industry.

MFG Day is a nationwide event that celebrates modern manufacturing and seeks to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. MFG Day serves as a way to help students understand what manufacturing is and is not, debunking myths and preconceived notions, and educating students on the wide-range of skills required in these jobs.

High school students primarily from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties toured numerous manufacturing facilities from automotive to aerospace. Participants, who included counselors and educators, met with workers to learn about high-tech jobs and the type of training needed to land a promising position.

With support at a local and regional level, MFG Day 2015 was coordinated in collaboration with multiple organizations, including the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan, as well as partners in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties and the city of Detroit.

Tours and festivities surrounding MFG Day stirred excitement: Students gained hands-on experience relating to potential career opportunities, for example, virtual reality automotive assembly activity using lightweight metals and demonstrations of virtual welding tools for production.

Connecting students and employers through opportunities like MFG Day is critical to sparking students’ interest in high-demand careers, but it is important to have ongoing exposure throughout the year so that students’ interest does not fade. MI Bright Future offers a way to continually connect students and employers willing to offer these exploratory activities.

MI Bright Future is a Web-based software that connects students and employers to provide hands-on experiences like job shadowing, mentoring, internships and apprenticeships that will immerse students in high-demand fields. There is a widening skills gap in manufacturing across the region: In the past year, there were more than 87,312 manufacturing-related job openings but only an estimated 15,822 individuals who completed training and education relevant fields.

Following the model of sites nationwide, MI Bright Future’s hands-on approach has been found to result in attitudinal shifts for students, such as feeling more prepared to make college and career decisions and realizing the relevance of their classes to their career path. This model has also been found to serve as an effective dropout prevention tool.

MI Bright Future involves employers, K-12, higher-education institutes and workforce-development agencies that are committed to bridging the skills gap and addressing gaps in the talent pipeline. The initiative will launch in four counties this fall (Livingston, Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair), with the potential to reach more than 168,000 students.

Beyond MFG Day, MI Bright Future serves as a way to educate the future workforce year round. Working together, the Southeast Michigan community can support student career awareness, help them make better investments in their future education, and bridge the skills gap. Participating in this effort will allow companies to ensure that their workforce is future-proof.

To learn more, visit MIBrightFuture.org. For more information on Manufacturing Day 2015 and how to be involved in 2016 MFG Day efforts, visit manufacturemyfuture.com.

Authored by MEDA Member Lisa Katz, Executive Director, Workforce Intelligence Network

This article originally appeared on Lisa Katz’s “Jobs & workplace” blog on www.CrainsDetroit.com. You can view this article and other posts from Lisa’s blog here.