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Opinion: There’s a shift in talent attraction – are you ready?

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When my daughter was in her last semester of graduate school a few years ago, she started emailing job vacancy postings to me. “What do you think of this one?” “How about this one?”

What I noticed about each of these job postings was that none of them included the salary range. None of them.

Being in 100% “dad mode,” I asked a silly question each time I received a different posting. “What does this job pay?”

Oh, silly dad, job vacancies don’t include the salary range anymore.

Really? How did I miss this? I can assure you that dads are very interested in what their children earn. I had already converted her bedroom into a music room.

But what I discovered was that my daughter was not doing what most of my generation did. We chased the dollars. I almost moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, because Phillips 66 was interested in hiring every computer programmer in the region at that time. My friends scattered to the wind to chase good-paying jobs. (Note: I accepted the lowest-paying job on the list and never regretted it.)

My daughter was evaluating her job options based on the level of engagement that an employer had within the Tulsa, Oklahoma, community and the level of opportunity she would have to get directly involved. Salary and benefits were secondary criteria for her.

During my job search as I neared college graduation, the role a potential employer played within the community and my personal civic engagement opportunities were not even on the list; now, job seekers might put them at the top. Could it be that we can’t just throw money at this younger generation of talent? Could it be that we need to listen to our human resources professionals and rethink the way we attract and retain talent? Could so much of it be about company culture?

I have spoken with a number of employers recently who are suffering what so many other employers are suffering – difficulty attracting and retaining talent. Many assume the culprit is either the pandemic and/or the federal dollars they feel are keeping workers from showing up.

But could it be that the pandemic simply accelerated what was already happening? After all, the labor curve inverted a few years ago, starting the worker shortage. Even before the pandemic, there were more jobs available than workers to fill them.

We’ve seen this train coming from a distance – perhaps it’s just arrived sooner due to the pandemic and our response to it. Part of this changing demographic landscape is the fact that 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day for a 19-year period – and we’re right in the middle of that retirement wave.

My daughter is 25 and has the job of her dreams. (Dad is relieved that it also pays well.) But I started wondering whether this was a common characteristic of her generation.

After a series of discussions with a set of young workers, I’ve learned two things. First, I am getting old and need to take a fresh look at what talent attraction and retention strategies will work in the near future. Second, more than half of our workforce feels the community engagement of their employer and personal civic engagement opportunities are important factors in attracting and retaining talent.

In future columns, I will share some research results that seem to support my slow-to-emerge observation and some stories from organizations who are already utilizing this type of culture to attract and retain talent.

Is this a tool we need to add to our talent toolbox? Stay tuned.

Greg Burris is president and CEO of United Way of the Ozarks. He can be reached at gburris@uwozarks.org.

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