Help wanted: Tools and resources from Michigan Works!

With the tight supply of talent, MI Works has tools that can help attract and retain employees.

A problem felt in almost every community is how their local businesses can fill their employment needs and how to retain those employees.

At a recent regional DDA forum, hosted by Michigan State University Extension partner Northern Lakes Economic Alliance and Regional Planning Organization Networks Northwest, Harold “Buck” Love, Business Services Coordinator for Northwest Michigan Works! led the discussion to share trends they are seeing and tools DDAs can share with their businesses to attract and retain employees.

Michigan Works! is continuing their efforts to start the worker pipeline sooner by connecting the business community with schools. By engaging kids as early as 8th and 9th grade interest can be built in training programs and more career paths. In the October 2016 Real-Time Labor Demand Snapshot for Region, 2 of 4,320 jobs advertised only 15 percent required a bachelor’s degree or higher education. Employers can look into working with high school counselors to find interns and summer help to teach kids basic employability skills as well as introducing them to various career opportunities.

With the tight supply of workers retention becomes the key word, employers must focus on keeping employees. Three major issues (other than a potential lack of decent wage) affecting our area are housing, child care, and transportation. 27 percent of workers in our area are driving 50+ miles to work. If employers can address any of these issues they will gain a reputation of caring about their employees and people will want to work for them.

Current employees are also the best recruiters. Tap them as a resource for new employees by keeping them in the loop and asking who they know that would be a good fit. Engaged and satisfied employees will sell your business in ways a job posting never can.

Networks Northwest is currently working on an employee retention handbook, which is slated to be complete in January 2017. Visit for more information and ideas. 

As part of the DDA Forum a round table discussion takes place on the topic at hand. Here are a few ideas to help retain employees:

  • Health Insurance/ HSA Accounts
  • Aggressive 401K
  • Team Building Days
  • Equal Treatment for All Employees
  • Flexibility in work schedule
  • Set Clear Expectations and Accountability
  • Building a Shared Vision
  • As a DDA encourage establishing a local core of workers (employee sharing, area open houses)
  • Child Care
  • Incentive Goals
  • Health and Wellness Perks
  • Performance Bonuses
  • Employee Awareness of the Business Standings

Businesses should keep in contact with the Business Liaison for their area for assistance with addressing these challenges and needs. Working with their Career Advisor counterparts, the liaisons share leads of job seekers to make matches with potential employers. Liaisons can also help facilitate hiring events and provide knowledge of on-the-job (OJT) training dollars for new or existing employees. To find your local liaison click here.

“Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.” 

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