Parker: Companies need creative ways to attract workers beyond pay

Employers continue to have many challenges attracting or retaining the skilled talent they need to drive the success of their organizations.  Our community, like others across the nation, is hard at work in setting high expectations of our local K-12 education system to do more to develop ideas for young people and their parents as to the career-path opportunities our community offers.  We are supporting initiatives like Learn to Earn Dayton and our local school districts, charters and parochial schools to focus more of their attention on education from cradle to career.

Phil Parker, president & CEO, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Higher education, more than 2 dozen entities in our region, are really doing a much better job these days of understanding regional job needs and the skill sets that go along with those careers.  But the 64-million-dollar question (please excuse the reference to bygone days) is what are other initiatives employers can do to attract and retain key talent.  That involves much more creativity.  There was once a time when workers looked mainly at just a paycheck and benefits.  No more.  Seems many employers are using other new and creative techniques to gain access to good recruits.

Take for instance PSA Airlines, the only Ohio-based airline headquartered right here at the Dayton International Airport.  Of course, they recruit pilots but also many airline mechanics using some creative techniques like the Maintenance Student Pathway Program that more than just pays the cost of earning key certifications and licenses, but the company also discusses their culture, additional forms of professional development, paid signing bonuses and more during their recruitment process.

Dayton Freight, a local logistics company, is lessening the probable future driver shortage by training younger workers early while in school … in some cases working part time on their loading docks but offering them a career path to other jobs as drivers or mechanics where an employee can be more certain of a long-time career rather than just a job.  They work hard at being flexible with drivers who may need to stay and work closer to home.  All of these creative applications open up more new recruits for their large and growing transportation and logistics business.

A local printing/marketing/fulfillment company Think Patented is applying other examples of creative thinking.  They have established a new working relationship with Clark State to support an Associate’s Degree program in “New Media”.  Last year, 100% of the graduates of this program had jobs prior to their graduation.  They have a formal internship program; but have also brought back an apprenticeship program that gives participants a much more robust education and training program that then leads to job offers and ultimately better long-term careers.

My point in sharing these stories about 3 completely different companies in 3 completely different industries is that they are recruiting with more than just a paycheck.  They are enticing employees with better ideas and understanding for advancement; better education and training programs; even better ways of earning additional paid time off … a critical currency in today’s recruitment efforts.

This is happening all over the country including right here in the Dayton region in an effort to help us fulfill our recruitment needs.  Employers everywhere are benchmarking new or better ideas as to how they can be a candidates’ first or best choice.

Bottom line is that there is no one best answer to our workforce recruitment or development needs.  That basket of ideas has to be full of creative opportunities by our local educators, parents and our employers alike.  In most cases … we have to grow our own.

Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE
President and CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

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