“Start Where You Are” is the title of the second book written by our 2009 NorthCoast 99 Awards Dinner keynote presenter, Chris Gardner. Gardner is probably best known for his rise to success from homelessness, as portrayed by Will Smith in the Hollywood adaptation of his first book, “The Pursuit of Happyness”. His new book offers an inspirational guide to people embarking on their own personal journeys toward success and fulfillment.
There are many ways to apply this simple, yet profound, statement, especially in the context of how to best attract and retain top talent. This is highly evident in the ways in which our 2009 NorthCoast 99 winners are promoting our region as a great place to live and work.
Where are you?
Organizations that excel at attracting and retaining great people understand that their missions and cultures are not confined to the physical buildings in which they conduct business. The things that make their organizations great extend far beyond bricks and mortar and are connected to the communities, cities, and regions in which their people live and work.
NorthCoast 99 Winners recognize the importance of proudly professing “where they are” to anyone who will listen; especially highly talented people who currently (and may someday) work for their organizations.
Reflecting on how NorthCoast 99 Winners apply this concept, here are three easy things you could do today to improve how your organization promotes Northeast Ohio (or wherever you do business) as a great place to live and work:
1. Educate your employees
It’s amazing what you can learn about a place, even if you’ve lived there your entire life. Helping your employees better understand their communities and how your organization is connected to those communities can help build a stronger sense of camaraderie and purpose in your workplace.
NorthCoast 99 winners do this by providing employees access to local publications and organizations (i.e. Cleveland Magazine, Positively Cleveland, ClevelandPlus, CoolCleveland.com, etc.) and posting information about upcoming events and activities. This could include something as simple as a flyer on a bulletin board, a posting on a company intranet, or a mention in a staff newsletter.
2. Encourage your employees
Don’t just educate employees. Encourage them to learn more and provide ways for them to engage in their communities. Here are a few ideas from NorthCoast 99 Winners:
- Reward employees with tickets to local events and attractions
- Provide gift certificates to local restaurants and shops
- Give employees maps that highlight the stores, restaurants, and parks in and around the areas in which they work
- Coordinate “Service Days” and other community activities in which employees may participate
- Buy local!
- Encourage employees to participate in other activities that promote their region. For example, you could encourage your employees to spread the word or submit an entry to be a contestant on Cleveland’s first reality web-TV Show, Got City Game Cleveland (www.gotcitygame.tv)
3. Brag to future employees
Show all those talented future contributors to your organization that the communities in which they live and work are important to your business:
- Link to sites such as www.neoisgreat.com or http://www.neoisgreat.com in your online career centers and electronic job ads
- Post info on your website about your community activities and discuss those opportunities during the interview process
- Let candidates know about ties you have with local colleges, professional associations, and other community organizations
- Give candidates and/or new hires a checklist of things to do in your community once they begin employment