Attracting, Retaining and Engaging

October 26, 2020Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber

We’ve surveyed our members a lot this year. From the beginning of COVID-19, through the shelter in place (seems like ages ago, huh?), to the most recent survey gaining feedback on what we hoped showed economic recovery. These surveys are instrumental to your Chamber team continuing to have a pulse on what is important to our business community.

Over the weekend many of you probably watched the video released by Hendrick Health where CEO, Brad Holland, gave an update regarding the most recent spike in COVID-19 cases in our community. While we’ve all done our part to help mitigate the spread of the virus, it’s still out there. Lingering and impacting our country, our community, our economy, and our workforce.

While we all continue to do our part to help our friends, neighbors, and business community stay healthy, the impact this virus is having on your ability to attract and retain talent remains top of mind to your Chamber.

In the most recent survey conducted by your Chamber, 27 percent of the 85 respondents cited workforce as the primary challenge facing their business right now. (View full survey results here.)

While not surprising in the least, these concerns have made the work your Chamber does in attracting, retaining, and engaging talent even more important.

I’ve talked a lot about workforce and the importance of our community’s ability in securing quality employees. I’ve talked a lot about “the importance of the ‘M’ Factor” and just about every community’s number one economic development challenge being the availability of skilled workers. But, what I haven’t talked about much is what COVID-19 will mean for the future of our workforce.

I wish I had more answers or wisdom for you about our future workforce, but much remains unknown.

But, one thing I do know and that remains certain is your Chamber’s Young Professional group continuing their mission of attracting, retaining and engaging the 21-40 year old demographic so our community and workforce is poised with leaders.

Like many non-profits in our community, our Chamber’s AYP steering committee led most recently by Taylor Sturgis, Key Appraisal Group, and now by Cameron Wiley, United States Air Force, has had to do some adjusting this year. From halting their networking events and moving to an online platform, encouraging the 21-40 year old demographic to help stop the spread, to providing young professionals a space where they can feel comfortable expressing their fears, their work in helping build a sense of community has not gone unnoticed. And, remains to be an essential piece to our work in providing opportunities for your talent to engage.

Their leadership recognized the need that this year, more than ever, creating a sense of place for our workforce is imperative.

So, what can you expect this year from our young professional program?

The continuation of networking opportunities whether in-person or virtual, a third annual Leadership Summit, and the continuation of honoring the individuals making an impact in the 21-40-year-old demographic through the long-standing 20 Under 40 program. (Deadline to nominate is this Friday!)

Their leadership remains focused on assisting local non-profits find board members and volunteers, welcoming newcomers to our community, and helping retain local talent from our Universities.

I hope you’ll join them and encourage your young talent to engage in this program. After all, the future of our community is in our hands. It’s up to us to adjust and come out stronger on the other side.



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