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Panel tackles challenges in recruitment and retention

Employers need to adapt to a rapidly changing workforce in order to recruit and retain top talent, not only in their companies but in their communities, according to a panel of experts at the 2023 Men’s Leadership Summit.

The panel, moderated by Sun Prairie Central Heights Middle School Associate Principal Kyree Brooks, included Urban League of Greater Madison CEO Dr. Ruben Anthony, Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association Director of Development Martinez White, City of Milwaukee Human Resources Director Harper Donahue and CUNA Mutual Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Joe Hankey.

“People today are mission driven, and they want to do something that makes sense for their life and the things that they believe in,” Anthony said. “Money is not the main motivator. We need to keep that in mind. People are looking for things that give them meaning, they want to feel good about the work that they do.”

“I think folks are looking for some type of combination” of salary, flexibility, positive culture and meaningful work, Donahue said.

That expectation of flexibility and work-life balance comes in part from the shift to remote work, the panel said.

The shift to remote work “is as impactful as the printing press or the cotton gin,” Ruben said. “A lot of folks don’t realize that right now, but we’re living in a time that the workforce is totally being revolutionized. Virtual work is the thing that people are attracted to, and they don’t want to come back in. Smart companies are taking advantage of that, because it creates some efficiencies. They can downsize their space, and some of them are doing that.”

White said it’s also important to create a diverse and welcoming workplace.

“Living here in Madison over the last 15 years or so, I’ve seen a culture and a mindset built around the fear of diversification,” he said. “What it means to diversify your human resource portfolio, just as we do our financial portfolio.”

“We talk about diversity, but you have to really look at what these organizations look like,” Donahue said. “If you’re seeing one or two folks (of color) here and there, that doesn’t feel like an organization that you’re going to thrive in.”

Hankey said some standards can inhibit people of color from thriving.

“There is an unnecessary expectation around what professionalism looks like in the workplace today that I think we need to be critical of,” he said. “That bias of professionalism, in my opinion, gets in the way of us being authentic, being our full self. We bring people into the organizations to do good work, to bring creative ideas, to innovate, all those other things. But we’re asking them to just be like the person next to them. We’re really missing an opportunity there.”

The entire hour-long panel is available in the video above and on the Blueprint365 YouTube channel.