Not sure where to start with HR tools?

Government might be the answer

Michigan’s current unemployment rate is around 4.2%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is considered low, which is undoubtedly great news for the economy and people of the state. But it also means employers may have a difficult time finding qualified candidates for their open positions.

Many local businesses still aren’t aware of the robust services Capital Area Michigan Works! – a special purpose unit of government serving Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties – offers to local employers. We throw around the term BST frequently, and mention the business services team, but what is it – and how does it help drive our economy forward?

The business services team – an employer-focused service offered through Capital Area Michigan Works! – works with companies to customize and implement recruitment strategies to attract top talent. BST members are available to assist with recruiting, hiring and training qualified workers, ensuring companies are able to retain employees and avoid costly turnover.

In short, the BST is meant to serve as an extension of a company’s human resources department. For many small businesses, we are the HR department – or at least the recruiting arm.

How can government help hire employers?

The BST employs a wide variety of tools, techniques and strategies – far too many for a single article, but strategies include:

  • Widely distributing job leads to internal and external partners
  • Advertising opportunities and partnerships on various social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Connecting with education and training partners to spread the word about openings
  • Performing candidate searches and referrals for high-wage, in-demand positions
  • Recruiting on-site at Capital Area Michigan Works! in Charlotte, Lansing and St. Johns

“The business services team members build and maintain relationships with local companies so they can rely on us to help with their high-wage, high-skill and high-demand openings,” said Teri Sand, the business services team leader.

BST members are immersed in the local talent scene, ranging from the Greater Lansing Society for Human Resource Management and local Rotary Clubs to Women in Skilled Trades, Capital Area Healthcare Alliance and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“We also work closely with local economic development teams to assist with business attraction efforts,” Sand said. “We served 491 businesses this fiscal year.”

The team’s goal isn’t just to help employers fill one job. In addition to helping search for and hire highly qualified candidates, the BST works with companies to keep those employees in order to avoid the costly turnover process. The goal is to become an extension of a business’s human resources staff – or for small businesses without an HR team, to provide that counsel and support.

“Replacing an employee is very expensive when you calculate the hiring team’s collective time spent removing the former employee’s access to company data and physical structures, advertising the new opening, screening candidates, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, background checks and drug screens, and training the new worker,” Sand said.

Turnover costs also include extra hours spent by other workers who become responsible for covering the former employee’s duties. Or, alternatively, the work does not get done.

“Either way, that is a cost to the company in lost productivity and/or decreased morale among existing workers,” Sand said.

New Business Resource Network established to improve retention

The BST is comprised of knowledgeable, experienced business professionals who help employers identify solutions to keep employee retention high. One of the newest employer services at CAMW!, the Business Resource Network, is dedicated solely to helping employers on-site with retention by providing confidential one-on-one support to employees who are struggling with external impacts on their job performance.

Think of it as a mix between a workplace wellness program, an on-site career coach and a human version of 2-1-1.

The BRN was developed to help employers reduce turnover and increase retention by addressing common issues that often lead to termination or employees leaving a job. A BRN success coach can work directly with a company’s employees to help them with a number of challenges that may affect their success at work, including overall wellness and health. For more information on the Business Resource Network, contact Erin McKenzie, emckenzie@camw.net or (517) 492-5518.

Throw in the Going PRO Talent Fund, and there’s even more to help a business retain – and compete.

The Going PRO Talent Fund ensures Michigan’s employers have the talent they need to compete and grow, and people have the skills they need for in-demand jobs. The fund provides competitive awards for training that enhance talent, productivity and employment retention while increasing the quality and competitiveness of Michigan’s employers.

“With the Going PRO Talent Fund, the employer determines which of their workers they want to train and in what,” said Sand.

This past year, 35 Lansing-area businesses received more than $1.5 million through the fund, using the grants for classroom and customized training, on-the-job training and U.S. Department of Labor-registered apprenticeships.

Planning is already underway for the next round of talent fund applications.

A commitment to knowledge and understanding

Human resources goes far beyond recruiting, and both Capital Area Michigan Works! and employers are adapting to focus on recruiting and retention.

Now is the time to rethink how your business supports its employees, and one of the most important things you can do is talk to them. Host focus groups, build employee satisfaction and wish lists into reviews or send an anonymous survey out to find out what people really want and need. While there are a number of tools to help with retention, understanding what motivates your employees and what will keep them is some of the best knowledge of all.

“Our team includes certified business solutions professionals,” said Sand. “That means we understand the needs of business and how to connect business owners with the resources they need, even when those resources are not directly related to talent.”

The team evaluates what worked and how to improve connecting you with local and statewide partners to take advantage of their tools and resources. They can identify a stress-free hiring process and help with internal training to enhance the skills of an employer’s workforce. They frequently partner with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Lansing Economic Area Partnership, Lansing Community College Business and Community Institute, and others to help our local businesses find new ways to grow and thrive in this region.

In short, you’ll have the support of a broad, experienced team to help with any size, scope or need. All through the government. Who’d have thought?

For more information on the BST or to get started, contact Sand at (517) 492-5516 or tsand@camw.net.

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