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Purpose of Communities

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6 Feb 2019


The Secret to Workforce Attraction is Purpose and Fulfillment. 

Earlier this year, my Uncle Tom passed away. I attended the funeral in the small Nebraska town and spent most of the time reflecting on how the town had changed and why people remained or left. 

I remembered family gatherings and community dinners where the fire hall was so full of people that moving around was almost impossible. The events were loud and joyous. People were held together by a sense of community and purpose.  But changed? Why were towns, like this one, across the country shrinking? 

As I let these thoughts drift in my mind, I was pulled back into the burial rights of my uncle by the final fireman’s call. My uncle was a lifelong volunteer firefighter and the final ritual was a radio call announcing the last call of his service. This touching ritual reminded me of what brings communities together and why communities are dispersing. My uncle and his sons were proud to be on the fire department and they often talked of the experience. It was their purpose to serve the community. And, the residents of this Nebraska town all shared the same purpose to serve each other. 

Uncover people’s purpose

One of the most fascinating reports each month for economic developers is the monthly “LinkedIn Workforce Report”. Worker migration patterns are tracked and industry hiring trends are identified. The report tells the migration story of today’s workforce. The US labor force continues to shift from location to location with the larger metropolitan cities experiencing the most fluctuations. 

But are people moving just because of the job opportunities? Certainly, every community has job openings and workers have more discretion on where to relocate. So what compels a person to choose Denver over Chicago? Or Nashville over Hartford?  

One explanation is a sense of purpose. In the November 2018 Pew Research study, “Where Americans Find Meaning in Life” respondents identified family, social causes, religion and friendships as sources of meaning. Careers were on the list, but far below the other factors.

Establishing a career shouldn’t be understated and people seeking opportunities; however, the surplus of jobs allows people to put more emphasis on the cultural aspects of a community. They want to fulfill their purpose. 

Validate people’s core values and culture

Yankton, SD understands that people want to participate in the community. Their Greater Yankton Living website identifies volunteer opportunities and shares stories from successful people who participate in the community. They understand that people want to match personal core beliefs with the community they reside. 

One of the largest considerations for the modern worker is living in a community that reflects their culture. The modern worker will continue to see increases in wages and will experience wealth; but where do they spend their money and their time?

A community that wishes to attract more people must identify core values and relate those values to potential new residents. And the very best vehicle is the community story. Attract people who want to help build your community and will become future community leaders. 

Claim your story

Once your community identifies the culture, values and the story, your community can commit to the bringing in people and tapping into their sense of purpose. Your community can attract and convert new residents and put them on a journey of discovery that will fulfill their purpose. Tapping someone fount of purpose is more than providing a job; it is life-altering. 

Communities who identify their story, like Yankton, SD and tell the story consistently well over and over and over win people’s hearts. 
Too much emphasis in today’s marketing is placed on immediacy. Social media has convinced many people that the best approach is to run an intense, short online campaign.  Likes, views and shares are measured to celebrate the success of the effort. However, these campaigns quickly are forgotten. The goal is not to like a social post; the goal is to attract the next generation of residents. 

Stories get passed on. Stories penetrate the mind and reach the areas of introspection and reflection in our mind. Stories give people a reason to make a life change. Stories have the power to help people fulfill their purpose. 

Build a workforce and a community with ambassadors    

The issue we most hear about is the workforce shortage. Current estimates suggest the US will face an 8.2 million worker shortage by 2027. Your community cannot fix the national shortage. But your community can build a sustainable workforce.

One effective solution for communities is to create a workforce ambassador program.  Assemble a group of people who are committed to telling the community story and sharing the culture. Let these ambassadors’ help build the community brand and attract new workers.  Let this group inspire and motivate others to come to the community and fulfill their purpose. 

In our noisy world of social media, personal stories and recommendations carry a lot of credibility. 

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