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Employee engagement

As labor markets tighten and operations become leaner, what are some strategies for recruiting and retaining top talent?


Responding is Dave Norton, vice president of customer solutions and support, The Raymond Corp., Greene, NY.

Amid labor challenges, it’s essential to invest in the right recruitment and retainment strategies to not only attract top talent but also keep it. It takes more than offering competitive pay and benefits. It’s essential to tap into the right talent pools early, provide constant support and implement a continuous improvement model to constantly push for better optimizations and outcomes.


Providing cooperative education jobs is one way organizations can engage and recruit top talent. Cooperative opportunities allow college students to experience a working culture, gain real-world skills, and connect with colleagues and associations. It’s also an opportunity for organizations to concentrate on collaboration with universities and colleges that are specific to the skills needed – be it supply chain, engineering, manufacturing, construction or beyond. An organization can even go one step further by funding university research programs to support the development and inspiration of future professionals.

Another way to recruit top talent is by sponsoring youth apprenticeship programs, which devote time and money to skills development. By committing to supporting youth in science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM), an organization can focus on preparing those next generations for long and successful careers. By targeting specific skill groups, organizations can use skills development programs to home in on talent and fully prepare the workforce of the future.

Engaging with educational institutions and executing a solid recruitment strategy for new talent can result in long-term relationship building, which not only helps organizations find good candidates who will stay but also strengthens ties with local organizations.


Once you’ve recruited your staff members, it’s essential that they feel supported to work securely and efficiently.

Employees can own their craft and learn new skills to optimize performance by engaging in robust training and development programs. From virtual reality simulators and e-learning courses to refresher trainings and recertifications, employee development should be a continuous practice, especially when introducing talent to an industry.

Leadership can foster a positive work environment by recognizing associates and fresh ideas. While doing so, an organization could consider implementing kaizens. Kaizens are small changes over time that will result in significant improvement. When employees have an idea about a possible process improvement, they can submit that idea to a manager, who can approve it and implement it for the entire team. It’s a holistic team involvement. The change may be small from one kaizen but, over time, the collection of many small changes lead to big progress.

By implementing these strategies, organizations can foster an environment where all associates feel engaged, valued and motivated to achieve success.

Despite a challenging labor market, organizations can build strong relationships both within their workforces and communities through recruitment, retainment and employee development efforts. Finding new hubs of talent and offering continuous support, learning opportunities and clear career paths will ensure an organization isn’t wasting valuable time or money in talent acquisition.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be considered a National Safety Council endorsement.

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