Portage County Farmers Market

Is the Sky Falling?

By Portage County Business Council

Written By: Todd Kuckkahn Executive Director, Portage County Business Council

Here is a convoluted story line.  With Lent and all of the fish fries, I was thinking of Easter.  Easter made me think of chicks and then Chicken Little.  Chicken Little is all about the sky falling and nobody listening.  The falling sky makes me think of talent; attraction and retention.  Told you it was a bit off of center.

jobsMany in the business community actually realize the sky has been falling.  In some sectors, it has become increasingly difficult to find talent and retain the talent a business has on hand.  I’ve been to several summits and read a lot about the challenges we are facing and how that challenge will be worsening.  It has nothing to do with unfounded stereotypes about millennials in the workplace.  It has to do with, as one person put, humans.  We need people and we need to find ways to help business find and retain those people.

One of many elements of attracting and retaining talent is the first impressions and organizational culture.  When I think back to my first job, and those of you who have seen my hair know that it was a while ago, I was just glad to get a good job and be able to stay in the state.  Now there are choices, lots of choices, here and everywhere else.  So, something has to give to attract and retain.

Of course, they all don’t end up in our community either.  I know of one large local business where over 20% of their employees are not based in the “mothership”.  Another small business hired their first employee from another state as all of the work is virtual.  While that is a national trend, it is somewhat worrisome as those folks are most likely not supporting the businesses in this community or getting involved in community change.  The challenge for business, though, is that they need humans and people don’t need to be in their building always to do that.

We have a lot to sell and brag about in our community.  Cost of living.  Four seasons with plenty to do.  K-12 and post-secondary education and training.  Arts and culture galore.  Close proximity to major metropolitan areas.  And lots more.  So when a candidate bubbles to the top through their own or we recruit them, what are we selling them on when they get here?

PCBC is leading an effort in creating a community website with one entry point that shares all we have in a more simple format that having to search for everything a candidate might be interested in learning more about.  Check out to see a model we are following.

When the community does need the people to be here, what sort of first impression are we giving them.  I know I’ve offered personally to many businesses giving a potential employee a tour of the community.  Not that it is about me, but it is about a “third-person, unbiased” view (not the company or someone trying to sell them something other than a great place to live).  PCBC and Ignite are in the very beginning stages at looking at community onboarding partnerships with the business community to provide that kind of support.

Then, does your organizational culture fit with the trends.  Not everyone needs to have a beer tap in your breakroom or an adult playground in your garden area, but they do make a difference.  Little things make a difference, too.  One of the best way to find out if your culture works for your business is to ask the employees.  If you manage expectations and let them know not every idea will be implemented, it is amazing what your co-workers will come up with for ideas.  I’ve implemented some in our small shop and we have six co-workers.

Our Board and committee members are focused on the talent attraction and retention challenges.  We are working with many partner organizations.  Help us stop the sky from falling so our businesses can continue to grow!

photo courtesy of

See what PCBC is doing to help with talent attraction and retention.