As a small-business owner in Kern County, I understand firsthand the battle for attracting and retaining local talent. The pool of potential (quality) employees seems to be dwindling with each passing year.

Unfortunately, many of those who make up the sparse talent that does exist today are often unaware of the differences between Kern County and say, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

No, I cannot personally fund the lease on your first house with marble-top counters. No, I cannot personally fund your fourth car in the last five years. And no, I cannot afford to pay you an entry-level salary that rivals that of my seasoned employees.

But I digress. It’s not news to us business owners that high-performing employees are a vital ingredient for the overall success of our organizations — so what is the trick? What is the key to attracting the right personnel, at the right price, and keeping them around long enough to pay off the time and resources invested during those precious weeks of training?

Our company has been fortunate enough to glean from businesses and organizations all over the world who live and breathe in the same communications space that we do. We’ve enjoyed many partners throughout the years who have helped us get to the place we are, serving the fantastic clients that we have.

One of our most recent partnerships has been with the Worldcom Public Relations Group, the third-oldest PR organization in the world that bundles the knowledge and expertise of 110 international PR agency partners operating in over 95 cities on six continents. Worldcom gives firms like ours, all over the world, the opportunity to join together as one to serve clients with international communications and marketing needs.

Worldcom PR recently engaged in an international study and produced a report on the issues that CEOs and chief marketing officers think will most influence success in 2018.

The top-rated issue?

You guessed it: The ability to attract the best talent. Leaders are finally beginning to see their employees as a direct connection to the success of their endeavors. Because of this, they’re increasing their focus on employees, deeming 2018 “The Year of the Employee.”

In 2017, 14 percent of leaders gave employees the most attention — one-third the level of customers and only 1 percent above shareholders. In 2018, this metric will leap to 20 percent!

So what are the recommendations for facing these challenges head-on and coming out the other end alive and with a thriving business? Because 2018 is the “Year of the Employee,” most of the recommendations will have to do with energizing and engaging your employees.

The full Worldcom Report offers 11 recommendations that your business or organization can implement immediately to increase your probability for success this year and for the years to come. I’d like to share a couple of the recommendations that I was drawn to but I urge you to take some time to review the full report, as it is sure to benefit you as a business owner, employer or employee.

• “Enhance your employer brand by defining your culture and values in a more compelling way.” We at Providence consider this an exercise in marketing our own company, internally and externally. One would think that a PR/marketing company would have this down to a science, but it’s something that we’ve had to consciously and proactively engage in. All employees at Providence know that we place the highest value on integrity, hard work and excellent service. And we also have a lot of fun doing it.

• “Address the upskilling, reskilling challenge by giving managers the skills to coach.” Continually upskilling and reskilling employees needs to be on the management agenda! All managers should be regularly engaging in training to help them operate as a “coach” for their team.

If you aren’t prioritizing people in your business or organization, you may be at a disadvantage, as the competition for the best talent is heating up. Give current and potential employees reasons to come to work beyond the paycheck and the paycheck is sure to be worth it.

What changes do you need to make in your company?

Tracy Leach is the president and CEO of Providence Strategic Consulting Inc.

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