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Challenges of Employee Retention and Attraction

The Portage County Business Council’s (PCBC) Economic Development Summit started with a report on the challenges of employee retention and attraction, with the focus on millennials.

It ended with Craig Culver sharing the Culver’s story and a question and answer session.  The five panels in between shared their view of the challenges and opportunities in our community.

With all of the “now hiring” signs and a projected 16,000 employee shortfall by 2025, the challenges of retaining and attracting employees is very real in our community and region.  There are few, if any, business sectors that are not impacted by the reality and projections.  We need people to join the work ethic and quality of life we enjoy here.

PCBC’s values of engagement, growth, innovation, network development, and partnerships will drive its’ agenda to collaborate with the community in addressing the challenge.  Several ideas were touched on at the summit. These ideas need the community to get behind them if we want to move the needle.

Here are some ideas we are beginning to develop and look forward to hearing others:
  1. Participating in college job fairs in surrounding states and other regions in the state to recruit employees. We heard at the NEWaukee ypSummit how ChooseATL was going to where the potential employees are, like SXSW (South By Southwest Conference & Festival in Austin).
  2. We are working with the justice system to help support re-engaging those in the system into the business community. Businesses and our post-secondary partners are willing to train potential employees.
  3. There is a group working in the state working on implementing a WI high school in a foreign country with a direct link to our state and UWSP.
  4. We are increasing our efforts to recruit college sophomores and juniors at UWSP. They are determining whether or not we should broaden that into a more statewide effort.
  5. We have done some SEM/SEO/E-mail marketing to attract employees. As we learn more, we can better focus on the best demographic to target.
  6. We are looking at a community-wide website promoting all of our resources (similar to With one community-wide portal, it will be easier to communicate with visitors, potential employees and potential businesses.
  7. There is consideration of a community-onboarding effort. Companies onboard their employees based on the business and to better retain them, we must onboard them into the community as well.
  8. Several area legislators have looked at ways to attract residents back by assisting them with paying back their student debt. With a five-year commitment by the individual, the state, county and business may be able to offer a debt reduction or elimination program.
That is a very aggressive agenda, but with the community energy through New ERA, Ignite, Partners In Education and the various summits and forums we have held, it is a great starting point.  During the holiday season PCBC is certainly thankful for the assets we currently have in our region.  We need to build on those assets to avoid significant challenges in our future.

(Top three photos courtesy of Emily Glinski, Digital Media Marketing Specialist at Skyward, Inc)


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