7 Strategies to Find Extraordinary Local Talent

Is your organization looking for extraordinary talent and thinks it needs to search outside of your local community? Not so fast. Many employers think they can't find talent locally and pursue their search elsewhere, but local talent is at your fingertips if you use the right strategies.

Using local job boards, postings, and advertisements (either print or online) is a good start.  These days, however, employers need to go a few steps further to find the very best talent, including building strong local roots.

Here are some proven strategies used by other local employers to consider in your quest to find and hire exceptional local talent.

  1. Pay attention to and learn about local talent in the region. Read local publications and news. Learn about the successes of other companies and the individuals employed at those organizations.  Take notice of individuals gaining attention in the local media, those receiving industry recognition and awards, and those that contribute the community in their field of expertise.
  2. Develop a presence on social media. Join local groups on LinkedIn, follow local talent on Twitter, read their blogs, and/or create a Facebook page. There are so many ways to leverage these platforms to find talent. For instance, monitor key influencers and those people contributing quality questions and content.
  3. Participate in the community. Get involved in local chambers of commerce. Go to conference and community events held around your community. Join local chapters of professional associations.  Seek and attend speaking engagements. Do community service, participate on boards, and help our non-profits. Use local resources for leadership and employee development. Meet a diverse group of people, network, and learn who the key players are in your community.
  4. Connect with local colleges, universities, and vocational schools. Develop strong relationships with professors and career centers at those institutions. Pursue speaking engagements at colleges so that students are exposed to your company and its leaders.  Use alumni relations to stay in touch. Create internships and entry-level opportunities to keep young talent here for the future of the region.
  5. Encourage your employees to be active in their communities and engage in local professional groups for their personal development. They'll engage and network with others and potentially refer them to your organization for employment. Plus, they'll likely gain valuable professional skills in the process.
  6. Partner with local talent search providers and staffing organizations. There are plenty of them with unique expertise. Plus, they often have the best knowledge of the local labor market and how your organization can find great local people. Who better to trust in finding a local hire than a local staffing provider?
  7. Boost your local workplace intelligence. Know what other local employers are paying for certain talent and jobs. Understand the kinds of benefits and perks they offer to employees. Explore ways that other local organizations are creating attractive and engaging workplaces that keep great talent.

Finding local talent isn't easy, but if your organization is committed to hiring good people, it's worth the effort. Next time your organization is considering looking outside of Northeast Ohio for a great hire and thinks that certain talent doesn't exist in our region, try these strategies before taking your search elsewhere.

Additional Resources

NorthCoast 99
Get recognized as a great place to work in 2012 to help your organization better attract and retain top talent in Northeast Ohio by participating in our NorthCoast 99 program. Click here for more information.

Staffing Services
ERC partners with several local organizations dedicated to staffing, recruiting, and hiring talent. Our Preferred Partners provide various staffing services to ERC members at discount rates. Learn more

Survey Information
Use ERC's compensation, benefits, and policy/practice information to determine the pay, benefits, and practices other local employers use to attract and retain great talent. Click here for more information about our surveys.

5 Things that Top Workplaces Do Differently

Over the years, we’ve found a few simple, but consistent practices that differentiate average employers from top workplaces. Here are 5 things top workplaces do differently than other organizations to attract and retain the best talent.

They make investments where it matters most.

Like many businesses, top workplaces are forced to make tradeoffs in offerings and programs, but keep investing in the things that are most meaningful to their top performers. They don’t just throw money at programs with little value – they know what matters most to their top people and put cash where it counts. For example, they invest wisely in strategic development programs, aimed at advancing their top performers into future leadership roles and growing talent pipelines; reserve funds for meaningful rewards to show appreciation to their top people for jobs well done; keep their compensation practices updated and competitive; and also don’t skimp on basic benefits.

They keep their people passionate and engaged in their work.

Top workplaces keep their top performers motivated on the job and passionate about their work, and for these reasons, it’s no wonder that these organizations employ individuals that are more engaged, innovative, and successful than other employers. The best places to work have found simple, but creative ways to engage their top performers through the work itself – spending plenty of time on job design, getting employees involved in brainstorming and implementing ideas, encouraging and coordinating personal development, moving employees into new jobs and roles, and giving employees the autonomy they need to do their best work. Instead of spending time rolling out elaborate motivational tools and programs, they focus on keeping the work fresh and exciting.

They talk to and interact with their employees.

Take a walk through any top workplace and you’ll notice a different climate than other organizations, specifically leaders and managers talking to their employees and engaging with top performers and not huddled in meetings all day with their management teams. You may even notice leaders mentoring employees, recognizing them on the spot, working side-by-side with staff, or participating in an on-boarding event. They aren’t leading from the corner office, but rather from their daily examples. The best places to work simply talk to and interact with their top talent more often than other employers, request their feedback and involvement in the business, and as a result understand what makes them tick. Consequently, their top people feel more valued by the highest levels of the organization, and develop strong relationships with their managers.

They respect and support employees’ personal time.

In an age where businesses and employees are faced with greater challenges, demands, and stressors and fewer resources, top workplaces are realizing that employees have greater needs for support in their work/life – whether those are balancing family responsibilities, pursuing personal goals, improving their well-being, or dealing with losses and other personal circumstances. These organizations take steps to ensure that their top people are able to balance their personal and work lives by addressing workload issues, offering flexible scheduling, providing support services and generous leave, and using a supportive approach in the workplace.

They build and sustain a great culture and work environment.

Ask any top performer: a major reason they love their organization is the work culture. It’s the unique work environment and the people inside the organization that keep many top performers happy and satisfied. In fact, culture is perhaps the most frequently cited “reason for staying” at their organizations. Top workplaces are able to create cultures and work environments that their top people grow to cherish and don’t want to leave. Described as positive, fun, supportive, flexible, collaborative, open, and performance-based, top workplaces have cultures that attract the very best talent. These organizations have a knack for sustaining these cultures through the many ups and downs of business and as their workforce changes.

Many employers believe that creating a top workplace means offering all the bells and whistles, and that their quest is out of reach. Yet our research continues to show that these simple strategies can make all the difference when building a great workplace to attract and retain the very best talent.

For more information about Northeast Ohio’s top workplaces, the 2011 NorthCoast 99 winners, please visit www.northcoast99.com. In addition, for more information about the NorthCoast 99 winners’ best practices, please click here

The 2011 NorthCoast 99 Application is Now Available

In its 13th year of honoring 99 of the best places to work in Northeast Ohio, ERC is excited to announce that the 2011 NorthCoast 99 Application is now available! Applications will be accepted from now until April 29, 2011. Applicants are encouraged to register at www.northcoast99.org/application to begin their organization’s application process.

There is still no cost to apply, and every applicant receives a free benchmark report in September which summarizes how an organization scored relative to the winners and other applicants.

The application process involves the following:

  • Top Performer Workplace Practices Audit - Our comprehensive online questionnaire that asks for detailed information about your organization's policies and practices.
  • Branding and Culture Submission - Applicants submit materials such as employee handbooks, sample job ads and materials shared with job candidates. 
  • Top Performer Engagement Survey - You select a group of top performers within your organization to complete an online survey that measures their engagement with your organization. 
  • New-Hire Assessment - You select three employees hired by your organization in 2010 and employed in Northeast Ohio to complete a short online assessment of your organization. 
  • Special Awards - ERC will recognize select organizations for unique and innovative practices described within the application.

To be recognized as a great place to work during good economic times is certainly a great achievement; however, during tough times the ability to attract, retain, and motivate top performing employees becomes even more critical. For more reasons to apply for NorthCoast 99 this year, please visit: http://www.northcoast99.com/.

The 2011 NorthCoast 99 Award program is sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, CareerBoard.com, CareerCurve, Cinecraft Productions, Inc., Cleveland.com, FirstMerit Bank, Frantz Ward, Inside Business Magazine, Oswald Companies, PS Awards, Staffing Solutions Enterprises, and WVIZ/PBS and 90.3 WCPN ideastream. In addition, NorthCoast 99 is endorsed by the Cleveland Society of Human Resource Management (CSHRM), the Northeast Ohio Human Resource Planning Society (NOHRPS) and JumpStart Inc.

For more information please visit www.northcoast99.org.

5 Secrets to a Becoming a Better Workplace

Why do some organizations receive more qualified job applicants? Have more positive work environments? Experience lower turnover? Enjoy higher employee engagement? Develop more innovative products? Here are five (5) of their top secrets.

Secret 1: Create an open environment

Great places to work create a sense of openness in their workplaces – openness to new experiences, continuous improvement, sharing of information, and creative thought. This openness is created through transparent, direct, and honest communication at all levels of the organization. Leaders communicate information and feedback frequently and sincerely. Little information is held back from employees, and employees constantly have access to information about the organization’s performance and direction and the ability to ask questions about the organization at any time. Similarly, managers and supervisors provide frequent feedback and communicate directly and honestly with their employees. All levels of employees, particularly non-management staff, are encouraged to voice their ideas and opinions. These practices facilitate an open dialogue throughout the organization.

Secret 2: Develop and maintain trust

A strong sense of trust is prevalent at great places to work and is built on positive and constructive work relationships. Most importantly, there is a sense of trust in leaders and their ability to lead the organization successfully. Employees have faith that their leaders will sustain and grow the organization and develop a clear vision and direction for the business. To build this trust, leaders frequently engage and interact with employees, develop a history of good decisions that move the organization forward, model organizational values, and consistently “walk the talk” by delivering on promises and commitments. These leaders are individuals of integrity that inspire their followers.

There is also a strong sense of trust between employees and their managers and supervisors. Managers and supervisors trust their employees to complete their tasks, accomplish goals, and make decisions independently. Similarly, employees trust that their managers and supervisors will support them and look out for their best interest. 

Secret 3: Treat employees fairly

Fairness is widespread at great places to work. Fairness, or perceptions of equity and justice, refers to when organizations make employment decisions (such as promotions, rewards, and pay) based on objective criteria – typically performance. By fairness, we are not referring to distributing these rewards to all employees equally. Nor are we referring to respectful and courteous treatment, which should be given to all employees. At great workplaces, those employees that outperform others receive rewards. Rewards are fairly distributed to those that deserve them.

Similarly, great places to work strive to provide a competitive total rewards package, including competitive and fair pay and benefits to its workforce. They monitor workplace trends and deliver a competitive package that attracts the right talent.

Secret 4: Support employees

Support is a critical part of great places to work, and provided at all levels of the organization – from leaders, managers, supervisors, and even coworkers. Support is prevalent when an organization conveys that it cares about helping employees achieve more for themselves or meet their needs – both personally and professionally. It is communicated and manifested in policies, procedures, and programs, and in how people interact and communicate with one another. People work together, help one another succeed, and support each others’ needs at supportive workplaces.

Great places to work provide flexibility in meeting personal and professional demands; on-going opportunities and interest in professional development through training, career development, and advancement opportunities; new and challenging work experiences; support for health and well-being; and appreciation for contributions and accomplishments.  These are all important ways that these organizations show their support to employees.

Secret 5: Have pride

There is a strong sense of pride and positivity prevalent at great places to work – specifically pride in one’s work, team, and the organization as a whole. Great places to work encourage taking pride in one’s work, recognizing that when employees are passionately and emotionally connected to their work, they are most engaged. These workplaces also encourage taking pride in team accomplishments, which facilitate stronger work relationships and camaraderie.  Finally, at great places to work, employees take pride in the organization as a whole and the products and services it offers to customers. They are incredibly connected to the organization’s mission and purpose.

Is your organization a great workplace?

We find that employers often underestimate their workplaces in terms of these characteristics, and encourage them to consider how their organization stacks up against these crucial aspects of the workplace. You may be surprised to find that your organization has all of this. Becoming a great place to work is more about building the right climate and culture that attracts, retains, and engages top performers, than instituting the most popular and attractive perks.

 

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