Workforce Development, the Future of Work

Published 6:51 pm Friday, May 13, 2022

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By Autumn Van Ravenhorst

Regional Outreach Coordinator

The war for talent has existed for some time, however, pre-pandemic trajectories on the widening skills gap and forecasted shortage of workers came much quicker than anticipated. In fact, the phrase “War for Talent” was coined in 1997 by Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company referring to the increasingly fierce competition to attract and retain employees at a time when too few workers are available to replace populations departing the workforce. Current events have forced the reshaping of the labor market but brought already present issues to the forefront that are now increasingly challenging organizations today.

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The 2022 Workforce Development Forum was held last month and brought a variety of informational sessions regarding labor market updates, workforce development innovation and spotlights on this year’s Best Places to Work award recipients. I had the opportunity to facilitate the Future of Work panel which included business leaders in our region to discuss these challenges and bring to light what is being done to recruit, retain and engage. The question was posed, as attitudes toward work fragment, how will organizations reorganize workflows, improve culture and cultivate a growth mindset that fosters loyalty among employees?

A focus has been placed on creating a people-focused culture which includes a multitude of actions and changes to traditional practices. Organizations are becoming increasingly flexible to promote a better work/life balance because as Justin Anderson of McNeilus eloquently stated, “It is just the right thing to do.” Phil Jacobson of Gemini, Inc. was part of the conversation who has adjusted outdated scheduling models and allowed employees to communicate what works best for them. Lane Powell with Harmony Enterprises presented the childcare facility that the company made a significant investment in to accommodate the need for childcare in their area. The facility sits adjacent and has allowed their team members to participate in family and holiday activities they may otherwise not have been able to attend. Philip Sayles of Viracon discussed hiring practices that promote diversity along with wellbeing by assisting with the housing needs of new hires.

It will be critical to know the community an organization is located in to develop a pipeline of employees loyal to the organization. Emphasis needs to be placed on how recruiting a workforce will mean going beyond marketing techniques and more toward creating paths for individuals through internships, apprenticeships, on the job training and real connections. Employees and leadership will need to continue to make compromises that are mutually beneficial to reach the common goal.

WDI is a private, non-profit organization providing employment and training services for both career seekers and employers throughout southeast Minnesota. WDI has offices in each of the 10 counties in our region: Goodhue, Wabasha, Houston, Fillmore, Olmsted, Freeborn, Mower, Steele, Rice, and Dodge. Please connect with us: