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Talking Worker Retention Strategies with REDC President Laurel Adams

REDC President Laurel Adams

President of the Regional Economic Development Center, Laurel Adams, sits down to talk about some of the strategies used at REDC to amp up worker retention.

There has been a profound shift within the job market in recent years. Demand for skilled workers, low unemployment rates, and the rise of remote work have placed employees in the seat of power.

"I think it's just a very competitive landscape," says REDC President Laurel Adams. "Pay is up; workers are seemingly more scarce. There are a lot of job openings, and many incentivization programs, signing bonuses, et cetera, to lure people in."

With the threat of high turnover rates, the headaches and drain on resources that come along with it can be financially crippling, leaving many organizations clamoring for fresh ideas and competitive compensation incentives.

The Regional Economic Development Center has been working hard to keep a great team and hold itself to a competitive standard as the employment landscape changes. Adams spoke with us about some strategies they use to retain and attract the best candidates for the job.

Most Importantly, finding candidates who align with the organization's mission… you've got to have drive.

We're very clear with anybody who comes on right from the beginning; they need to align with our values and mission. In our ads, we ask why working for this nonprofit in particular is important to you. When interviewing them we ask what does our mission mean to you? How do you want to show up? It's about having the spirit to want to do the type of work we do versus just what your assigned duties are. We introduce all types of employees to clients for a greater connection. Encouraging a link to our broader goals. We try to ensure that everyone's job contributes directly to our client's success. We're here for a specific reason and always accountable for that work. And, it's essential that everybody contributes.

REDC Business Advisor Liz Salas meeting attendee at SCORE Lending Expo in Nashua, NH.

Promoting professional development by contributing to educational opportunities.

We encourage professional development and growth. We contribute to educational opportunities and degree programs that further someone's job. Everybody's offered the chance to pitch training they would like for the year ahead of our budget schedule. We love it when people can take classes that are either expanding their current skill set or obtaining a new one. We also try crafting promotions, job descriptions, and goals around someone's strengths, ushering them toward a new direction or growth. And it's always our goal to give people that runway to get to the next position.

Team building activities, excursions, and regular team meetings.

We do team activities, whether a photo scavenger hunt, birthday celebration, or drumming lessons, to name a few. We did a fun gundalow ride down the Piscataqua River to celebrate some of our staff moving on to new retirement and opportunities. We try to facilitate regular team meetings and social opportunities beyond just the work. It's particularly important with the hybrid work schedule to engage with other team members. In this positive work culture, you have a sense of belonging and have fun beyond just your work.

Being mindful of personal time.

In a growing culture driven by technology, where it's so easy to send someone a text or message via some workspace app at all hours of the day, it's important to continually reinforce boundaries, because those lines between work and personal time can get blurred easily. And it's good to reiterate that you do not expect people to give up their very important work-life balance. It can easily contribute to burnout because they're always on.

Bonuses, rewards, and incentives.

Recognition, rewards, incentives, and bonuses are very important to let employees know you really value the work that they're doing. And we tie that to extraordinary performance and going above and beyond in their job. We also watch to ensure your compensation is competitive with the current market, which is challenging at any time, especially now. It's tough to know what appropriate compensation can be between inflation and our employment market. Still, we review that annually, ensuring we're keeping pace with the private or the for-profit sector.

Encourage people to make time for sunshine and physical activity; mental health is physical health.

We want to make sure that everybody has that opportunity to get out and move around during the day and not feel micromanaged all the time. If you need to go to the gym, go for a walk on our nearby rail trail, or a bike ride and clear your head, we encourage that wholeheartedly. It makes for a more focused you the rest of the day and a happier, more productive team member.

Rail trail sign with dog in the background

Dogs at work!

And we let people bring their dogs to work with them!

REDC serves new, growing, and challenged businesses. Whether you need to find a lending partner, finance an expansion, or need assistance with restructuring, REDC can help. They also provide free business advising to loan clients, giving extra support as their business grows. They have seen first-hand how this additional support can make the difference, and clients know they have resources to turn to when met with a challenge. There are several non-profit economic development corps throughout NH–check with your local contacts for the best resource.


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