Mike Postma: What Best Place to Work program can teach us

Published 7:01 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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Workforce Development, Inc., recently completed our Best Places to Work in 2023 program and dozens of businesses applied. 

I gleaned many best practices from the applicants and I thought this column would be a perfect place to share just a few of the pearls of wisdom they gave us.

What are some of your most innovative recruitment strategies? One organization noted that they created short video testimonials of current employees about why they love working there. They posted them on their social media channels but then took it a step further by running these videos as short ads on streaming TV and radio. 

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Another organization shared about how they looked inward to remove as many barriers to applicants as possible. Some of these changes included “simplifying and adding more inclusive language to their job descriptions, shortening and digitizing the application process, shortening the interview process, reducing our education requirements, and eliminating required drug testing.” This self reflection on what might be holding job seekers back from applying is a remarkable strategy.

What are some strategies you have implemented for increasing retention, diversity and quality of life in your organization? An application shared that they focused on providing employees with an upward career path through their Natural Career Progression program which moves members incrementally upward both in skill level, as well as compensation, in their current position. 

Giving current employees the ability to expand their skill sets and receive compensation for it is a win for both the employee and the organization. 

Another organization noted that they are focusing heavily on mental health: “The rate of suicide in our industry is four times higher than the general population and has the highest rate of suicide compared to any other occupational group, even higher than first responders and veterans. We helped facilitate mental health awareness training for our team members.” 

A lot of business talk about the need to focus on employee wellbeing, this team is actively doing the work.

What programs are you especially proud of offering? I love the creativity in these responses, there are so many unique ways to engage employees! A few that stood out: “Our Leave of Absence policy allows staff to return to their homeland for a few months to participate in festivals and visit with family/friends. This also allows employees to say ‘yes’ to once in a lifetime opportunity which would take them away from work for an extended period.” Another fun idea: “This year we started an employee-taken photo gallery. The photos are printed onto a canvas and displayed in the office. After a period of time (roughly six months), the photos are given to the team member who took the photo as a memento, and the cycle repeats.” This one blew me away: “Launched a new award for the people who best live the core value of stewardship. The top winner won $25,000 for the non-profit organization of their choice.” 

These are just a few of the creative and impactful ideas that local businesses are implementing to fully engage their workforce, both present day and future. What great idea will your company create and implement to grow your workforce in 2023? 

— Mike Postma is a Workforce Development Area Manager