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Want to retain talent? Onboard to the community, not just the company.

Posted by: Blake Johnson
Posted: April 19, 2019
Categories: Professional Development, Civic Engagement, IndyHub

Each month, 3 million Americans quit their jobs. (Yes, you read that right).

In fact, just last May, the proportion of Americans who voluntarily bid their employers farewell reached a 17-year high. This is good news, of course, as most economists will tell you its emblematic of a strong labor market. People are able to leave their current jobs in pursuit of better pay, more flexible working conditions, or that elusive role that aligns perfectly to their passions, and – more often than not – those jobs are available. In fact, depending on the industry they’re in, between 50% and 65% of employees are confident that they could find a lateral position or a better one in the event they needed to move on.

Macroeconomic pleasantries aside, this should be a warning sign for employers of all sizes, as well as cities who are vying for the talent that fuels them. Employees aren’t afraid to part ways with their companies, a fact that costs those companies an additional 20% over an employee’s salary in the event they have to replace them. For cities, it should be noted that the vast majority of Millennials (the fastest growing and arguably most important segment of the workforce) are willing to move from one city to another to advance their careers. That is to say, they aren’t afraid to leave you either.

So what’s it all mean? Simply put: employers and cities have to work together, dare I say in lock step, to give people a reason to stay.

As it relates to employers, one of the most powerful tools for HR and talent professionals to deploy is effective onboarding. And because of I’ve already gone heavy on data:

  • Gallup found that only 12% of employees think their organizations do a great job of onboarding.
  • Glassdoor reports that strong onboarding processes improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.
  • Conversely, ineffective onboarding experiences result in new hires being twice as likely to start looking for other opportunities.

We know that strong onboarding is powerful, especially when it is intentional and people-focused. Companies that do it right are thriving, recruiting and retaining top talent and arguably transforming the workplace.

But I’d suggest we should go one step further. While companies are reviewing and refining their onboarding practices (here are some ideas), cities – and their placemaking organizations – need to consider the role we play and how we onboard people not to their company, but their community.

Put people first.

I alluded earlier to the power of onboarding that puts people first. Companies with people-first onboarding focus on inspiring the employee, making them feel welcome and integrating them into the culture of the organization. Community onboarding should be no different. Next Generation Consulting found that individuals who don’t get engaged meaningfully within the first 90 days of moving to a city are likely to relocate yet again within just one year. As we consider that timeframe, as well as the fact that over the last 50 years, rates of loneliness in the United States have doubled, the stakes have never been higher to ensure new residents are able to build connections and find a network of people with whom they can relate.

For IndyHub, that means we host laid-back opportunities and events for people to connect with one another and our city. We organize happy hours that benefit local nonprofits, trivia nights that highlight our city and what it has to offer, and when we meet someone new, we work one-on-one with them to help connect the dots as they get plugged into their new community. [Bonus: we have awesome partners like The Speak Easy who care about this as much as we do.]

Perhaps most importantly, we listen. We’re constantly striving to learn more about what our current and potential residents care about, what they’re looking for, and how we can best provide it.

Prioritize social good.

While many companies are evaluating their compensation and benefits as a means of retaining talent, data suggests that an organization’s commitment to community and social good are even more important. Millennial talent is particularly focused on making a difference. They spend their money with companies that are socially responsible. They support causes rather than subscribing to traditional systems and institutions. They value experiences and want to know those experiences are positively impacting the community around them. And the cities that embrace these doers and change makers are likely to benefit greatly from their enthusiasm and altruism.

IndyVolved, IndyHub’s annual volunteer event, harnesses this passion and mobilizes these extraordinary people. The event brings together a couple thousand of our city’s emerging leaders alongside over 100 nonprofits that are looking for board members, volunteers and new advocates. Together, this growing network of young people and organizations are dramatically improving the lives of our city’s residents and shaping the future.

Provide growth opportunities.

87% of Millennials believe that personal and professional growth is an important part of their jobs. And while they expect their employers to offer those opportunities, cities can also step up in big ways to empower leaders. Programs like IndyHub’s 1828 Project focus in on young leaders (those between ages 18-28), cultivating their passions, strengthening their agency around community development, and amplifying their voices. Similarly, programs like Leadership Indianapolis’ SKL is building a pipeline of executives from a variety of backgrounds who will be guiding our city for generations.

When a new employee joins your team, the first days often reveal quite a bit about the place they’ve chosen to work, and the way they are integrated into the organization can have lasting impacts on their commitment and productivity within the company. Similarly, the effectiveness with which we welcome new talent into our communities and the intentionality with which we help connect those individuals to people, places, and opportunities will define their relationship with our cities and civic landscape.

Want help onboarding your employees to the community? We can help.

Blake Johnson is President of IndyHub and an elected member of the Indianapolis City-County Council. In his spare time, Blake enjoys spending time with his wife Natalie and their two, wildly spoiled dogs, Jack and Jamison. @IndyBlakeJ

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