To attract and retain the best, flexibility and remote options are a must

Jun 6, 2022

In my line of work, we are constantly thinking about workforce: how to connect the right people with the right positions, how to help both companies and individuals achieve their goals, and how to connect talent with opportunity so that new hires become long-time employees.

Our company, InnoSource, talks daily with the prospective employees your company is trying to hire, and (I’m sorry to say), we likely are talking with some of the employees you’re hoping to retain. As workforce issues continue to drive conversation among business and community leaders, I’m thinking a lot about how the way we attract and retain top talent affects the overall health of our economy and our community.

Your employees, both prospective and current, want comfortable wages, of course. But lots of companies offer comfortable wages. To attract and then keep top employees, companies need to think bigger, and more creatively.

One easy place to start is flexibility, especially as gas prices reach record highs. Can the position be done remotely? If so, offer your employees the option. Does it have to be completed in the standard 8-5 workday, or is it the kind of creative position that could be done outside “normal” hours? If so, create an environment where your employees know they can work when they are most effective. Employees and prospective employees are telling us they want flexibility in where and how they work. If you are hoping to attract and retain talent, and you’re not looking at those two things, you will lose employees to companies that are more flexible.

And you may end up spending more on wages just to lose them anyway: Employees want to live the life they want outside work, and as we are seeing with Generation Z, that is what employees sometimes value more than a paycheck.

Employees also want to know they have a path for their careers to grow. Several of our clients have in recent years had great success implementing leadership and growth plans for lower-level associates. You will find much higher quality and longer-term employees if you show them that you are ready and willing to invest in their future — and if you can show them that your company’s future success depends on their success, too.

This benefits our communities: More jobs and happier employees lead to stronger consumer spending. We are seeing it in the Columbus metro area, where InnoSource is headquartered, and where earlier this year, Intel announced a $20 billion investment in two new leading-edge chip manufacturing plants. A strong workforce leads to better jobs and more opportunity, creating even better jobs and even more opportunity. It’s circular, and I’ve been fascinated to see it grow here.

We are living in interesting times. The rate of inflation continues to outpace wage growth. If we place an employee with your company for $16 per hour, the next day, they will begin looking for a job at $17 per hour — and they will get it. Inflation shows no signs of slowing, and neither does wage growth: Wages in the Columbus area grew more than 7 percent over the last year. And based on demographics, I don’t think we are likely to see our workforce shortage end anytime soon.

Companies can’t possibly keep increasing wages at the rates we are seeing, so other options must be on the table.

At InnoSource, we also talk a lot about culture. Our culture drives our business and has led to incredible success for over 20 years. There are so many factors to success, but the fact is, if you don’t have the right people, there’s no way to be successful. And I don’t just mean your leaders at the top: the CEOs, finance leaders and others. I mean mid-level managers and lower-level associates. Those are the people who are knee-deep in the work, and if the right people aren’t in those jobs, your company won’t succeed.

Employees want the chance to be successful at work and in their lives at home. If you want to recruit them and keep them, now is the time to think about what you can offer, beyond pay, to let them have both.

-Brad McLean, President of InnoSource