4 Ways to Attract New Workforce Online
28 Jul 2016
Blog, Economic Development, Workforce
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the rules changed for economic development organizations. In recent memory, the priority was on attracting businesses and that in turn would attract the workforce. Perhaps it was partly the internet easing the need to move for a good job. Perhaps it was the values of millennials prioritizing a high quality of place over higher pay. Or perhaps because there are more people retiring from the workforce than entering. No matter what the reasons are, we can all agree that a qualified workforce is the number one concern of businesses today and therefore the number one focus for economic development organizations.
Having the opportunity to work with so many economic development organizations across the country has given me a unique perspective on many strategies being applied. Since the internet is the most powerful communication tool economic developers have, I wanted to share a few successful strategies being applied online that can be implemented by any organization.
1. Success Stories
Reasons are great, but people remember stories. The most authentic stories are told by the people who lived them. The talent you are looking to attract will have the strongest listening for the people thriving in your community with similar ambitions, goals or values. Success stories of entrepreneurs, exceptional talents and great families exceeding their goals are memorable and influential, especially when combined with great recreational activities and quality of life. These stories are great content for your website and social media and are the proof of your value promise to your target workforce. See multiple success stories on the Greater Yankton Living website and a nice interview format on the Business Remixed website for Athens County EDC in Ohio.
2. Use Video
If great stories are the most powerful message, it would make sense to use the most powerful medium: video. Professor Mehrabian concluded that communication is 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal (55% body language and 38% tone of voice). Video can communicate your region’s stories and key messages the strongest. They make great first impressions on a website and are important vehicles for your message through YouTube, Facebook and other digital platforms. Video can have a wide price range, but remember that the videos don’t have to be overproduced, they just need to be authentic. Greater Dubuque Development Corporation has an excellent example with their Thrive In Dubuque relocation video.
3. Facebook for Workforce Attraction
According to the Pew Research Center, over 70% of US adults use Facebook to stay connected with their friends and family. That makes it an important tool for workforce attraction, especially for rural regions. Even with all the job and resume search tools online, most jobs are found through personal referrals and networking with friends and family. The people living in your region play a role in sharing job opportunities with prospective talent they know outside the region. Legacy recruitment is bringing back people that lived in the region and left for college, work or other reasons. In a Minnesota rural newcomers survey, 43 percent of respondents lived in or near their community before returning; 30 percent of their spouses lived in or near the community. These people are more likely to connect with their communities and ‘stay in touch’ through facebook more than other social media tools. Facebook may fall short communicating with site selectors, but it is a powerful tool for sharing your key messages, opportunities and success stories to prospective talent and keeping your region’s residents informed and aware.
4. Workforce Microsites
An economic development organization has to communicate to many different audiences including site selectors, business owners, entrepreneurs and now talent too. A great first impression for one audience is not necessarily the best for another. A site selector is not likely interested in a video from an entrepreneur and prospective talent does not have interest in a site or building. A microsite is a website designed for a single target audience, like prospective workforce, with all the content, stories and media focused on reaching them. Attracting workforce may be a priority for economic developers, but does not have to dilute the first impression or messaging to site selectors and business owners. GreaterYanktonLiving.com is a good example of a workforce microsite created by the Yankton Area Development Corporation.
These are just a few of many different workforce attraction strategies being applied across the country. Unfortunately there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but all economic development organizations should be doing something to engage the workforce outside and within their regions. Just remember the people thriving in your community are unique to you and your biggest assets for attracting new talent that will thrive there also.
Golden Shovel Agency