Delivering the pitch

Telling the story of Northeast Wisconsin an important part of recruiting

Posted on Nov 15, 2016 :: Insight From
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Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

Talent and all the challenges around finding, hiring and retaining people is a very hot topic these days, as it should be. There are many opportunities we face, some immediate and some in the not-too-distant future.

One topic we frequently observe and work with clients on is the generational values misalignment. This is not a bad thing, it just is. The baby boomers were raised in a time when we stayed with the same employer for many years. “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay” was how we lived our work lives. The millennial generation is more about innovation, fun and work-life balance — all very important values — but herein lie the opportunities and challenges as the two generations collide in our workforce.

More baby boomers will be retiring in the next three to five years than at any other time. Knowledge transfer at this time is critical. Baby boomers must train this generation to run the equipment, sell the product and lead the strategy. Baby boomers are hesitant to do this.  One, because they believe they will get the new hire trained and then they will leave for the next green pasture (and admittedly so, with their average job tenure of three years). Second, job security exists by being the only one who understands exactly how the machine works. The recession of 2008 didn’t help this.

Our solution, which I will discuss at The New North Summit in my ED Talk, involves a multi-prong approach to talent. For a firm to be successful with talent both today and into the future, the focus needs to be not only on finding top performers but a new focus for our Northeast Wisconsin manufacturers needs to be on retaining our young professionals.

It’s a “new approach” because we have found the methods we used 20 years ago to attract people to Northeast Wisconsin are very different than those we use today. Here is a brief sampling of our methods used.

You must be an outstanding storyteller.

Not the story you told years ago about Grandpa starting the company and three generations later you’re still around … this does nothing for today’s future top performer. You need to sell your company by its cause: How are you making a difference in today’s world?

Oshkosh Corp. does this extremely well. In their latest, just released video, they interview many employees who work at Oshkosh about their connection to the company. While nice to hear, the emotional moment comes next. Those same employees stand in the parking lot, hundreds of them, holding up pictures of their loved ones who are either currently or have been in the military service. Their lives were saved by what this company produces every day. It is impossible not to cry when you hear the personal stories of a husband, son or daughter spared by their military vehicles. I watched the video and immediately wanted to be a part of “their cause.” 

If someone is to move to Northeast Wisconsin, we need to convince them we are more than cheese, snow and Packers.

We know Northeast Wisconsin is a wonderful place to raise a family. However, to attract top performers you need to remember that smart people want to be around other smart people. Did you know the Time Magazine Automotive Dealer of the Year* four years running lives here? How about someone who was voted into both Forbes and Fortune Top Fifty Most Powerful Women? Yes, she** lives here, too! Even the gentleman*** who composed the music for “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” lives right here in Northeast Wisconsin! We have countless people we mention, and people outside our area are always amazed at the brilliancy that resides right here. But they won’t know if you don’t tell them.

Northeast Wisconsin is not happy following best practices … we set them.

Let’s face facts. We are a competitive group. We don’t just show up to play, we show up to win! If they want to be a part of something larger than themselves, this is a great place to live, work and win!  We have countless examples of how we outshine our competitors.

Show them how to duplicate the life they are leaving behind. 

We spend an exorbitant amount of time on this as we recruit talent, especially with the trailing partner. While we know people love it here once they get here, we need to point them in the right direction. This is especially important for single or diverse candidates. Φ

*Bergstrom Automotive, ** Kathi Seifert,
*** Maury Laws

Sharon Hulce is president of Employment Resource Group. She is one of three ED Talk speakers who will discuss talent recruitment and retention at the New North Summit, Dec. 6, at Green Bay’s KI Convention Center.