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Building Our Workforce

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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Hiring and retaining quality employees has become a top issue for many Polk County employers.  The challenge is that there are too few qualified candidates to fill the open positions.  This is compounded by the fact that slightly more of our ‘working age’ people are moving out of Polk County compared to those moving in.

There are efforts to offset this negative net-migration.  For starters, an effort to build a ‘pipeline’ of talent from our local schools is underway.  Programs like Youth Apprenticeship and Inspire/Career Cruising are programs aimed at helping young people find good job opportunities near home.

Another way to meet our ‘talent’ needs is to invest in current employees with training, development, and advancement opportunities such that employees want to stay with their current employer.  A third approach is to recruit from outside the county.  Entice workers with our natural resources and recreational activities.  We can also boast about our low cost-of-living, short commutes, and great schools.

Another strategy currently evolving is for employers to adapt their policies and operating procedures to meet the goals and priorities of young job-seekers.  The new generation of workers, often labeled as ‘millennials,’ are bursting onto the scene, wanting to take their place in our society and economy.  These millennials are in some ways different than previous generations.  Things they may prioritize include a more flexible work environment along with a culture where they are valued…both as an employee and as a person.  They want the opportunity to do good beyond their jobs and participate in their communities and on worthwhile projects.

Despite all the talk about the ‘new generation’ being different, several of their desires and priorities seem very familiar...job stability, growth opportunities, and a competitive salary.  The differences may not be with them, as much as it is with our changing technology and media-focused culture.  The ease of communication via the iPhone and computer means that the flexibility to do work at home or other places is a much more realistic possibility versus 15 years ago.  Conversely, because technology has created an over-abundance of people glued to their computer screens, providing opportunities to interact and mingle face-to-face with others is an important benefit to consider.

Of course, there are many other things that young job-seekers will find appealing.  The key is for employers to tap into those desires and interests and be flexible in how they recognize and reward employees while maintaining the goals of the business or organization.  With a little creativity…along with the many advantages of Polk County…we can keep many of our young people and recruit some talented people such that our communities continue to thrive.

The Polk County Economic Development Corporation is a public-private organization that was created to encourage and promote economic development and capital investment, create and retain quality jobs, enhance the tax base and facilitate positive sustainable growth throughout Polk County, Wisconsin.

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