What is the one thing a business should be doing right now to ensure it has access to the most talented employees possible?

Jobs, jobs, jobs. For a while, we couldn’t create enough. Now, businesses in Iowa are having trouble filling their openings with talented workers. With the economy improving, a growing skills gap, unemployment in Iowa well below the national average, and salaries on the rise, the competition for talented employees is heating up. One thing is for sure: The job climate has changed, and businesses are playing by a new set of rules. They are battling both local and out-of-state companies for talent. At our event on Feb. 19, four panelists will explore what the state is doing to help attract and grow the best possible workforce, analyze the impacts of competition for talent on businesses, and help companies learn how best to position themselves to compete for talent now and into the future. We’re looking forward to the event, and I hope to see you there.  

- Chris Conetzkey, editor of the Business Record

Monica Friedman 
Vice president of human resources, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

“It is important for a company to have a meaningful value proposition for associates. Top candidates need to be able to see the path to advancement with the organization. They want the opportunity to grow and develop with things like tuition reimbursement and investment in professional development. It is important to help candidates connect to others within the organization and to understand what the culture of the organization is like so that they can assess the cultural fit along with the “job fit.” We are fortunate in Des Moines to have such a vibrant community with much to offer. I believe all businesses need to continue to be involved and invest so that our city is an attractive place for the top talent in all industries. If they can’t see themselves living and playing here, they won’t be interested in working here!”

Debra Salowitz
President, Strategic Relocation Solutions LLC 

“Attracting and retaining top talent should not be perceived as mutually exclusive goals. There is no percentage for a business in attracting and hiring the best candidates only to lose them because there is no retention strategy in place, particularly if relocation is required. Recruitment and retention success (or failure) are inextricably connected, and both rely on recognizing that considerations beyond just the job must be taken into account from the earliest stages. If there is a family, spouse or partner, they must be actively engaged in the decision to relocate and committed to its success. A critical component of retention is to continue building a relationship with both the new hire and the family, embedding them in the community and meeting the full spectrum of their transition needs during the first 12 months post-hire, when the company’s return on investment is most vulnerable.”

David Leto
Executive vice president, Palmer Group

“If you are going to lead a successful business, you must create an environment of open communication and trust. This will lead to everyone involved being on the same page, moving the same direction toward the same goal. Leaders should communicate their own goals as well as the goals of the company. Routinely talking with your employees about their goals, both personal and professional, will create accountability for both leaders and employees. When an issue comes up, it must be dealt with immediately so everyone can move on. Achievements must be recognized and communicated not only directly to the deserving individual, but publicly so all can take part in the celebration. All of this seems simple, but it boils down to communicating with your team when things go wrong and when things go right. If you can create an open environment, it will lead to greater job satisfaction, reduced stress, loyalty and mutual respect throughout the organization with the outcome of creating a more productive work environment and a place everyone wants to work.”

Mary Bontrager
Executive vice president of workforce development and education, Greater Des Moines Partnership

“The best marketers for talent in any business are your current employees, so encourage them to be a part of your recruiting team. Support and acknowledge your employees for their involvement in activities outside of the workplace, such as serving on boards or committees, volunteering, or engaging in activities that feed their passions. Embrace an inclusive culture by encouraging diversity in its broadest sense, including diversity of thought, life experiences, and personal passions. Ensure that you are fostering an environment where employees believe they can achieve the things in life that are important to them. Not only will they feel more valued and connected to their workplace, they will let others in their networks know what a great employer you are because you are investing in their overall wellbeing.”