How the arts can help address hiring and retention challenges

Unemployment is at an all-time low. The labor market can’t get much tighter. From every corner of our business community, one can hear common refrains: “I can’t find the right talent.” “We’re doing everything we can to hang on to our talent.” “We see a wave of retirements coming and we worry about talent.” “What do these young workers want?”

It is much less common to hear creative solutions to these problems, but they are out there. And by creative, I mean to suggest that there are literally creative solutions available to business. More to the point, businesses should look to our arts and culture community as a resource for solving talent and other business problems.

The arts can help a business recruit strong talent, embrace diversity and contribute to its home community. ArtsNow, an innovative local nonprofit that connects arts, culture and community, offers a list of ways in which the arts can help business.

■ Recruit strong talent. Employees want to live and work in a vibrant community. Arts partnerships prove you believe that’s a priority.

■ Foster creativity on your team. Art stimulates creative thinking, problem solving and team building.

■ Engage employees. People who frequently participate in workplace volunteer activities, including arts and culture-based activities, are more likely to be loyal and engaged employees.

■ Build market share. Partner with the arts to increase your brand recognition and create networking opportunities to develop new business.

■ Embrace diversity. Committing to the arts lets people inside and outside your company know that you value diversity, innovative thinking and a creative culture.

■ Advance your product or service. Work with local artists to help share your message in new, creative and engaging ways.

■ Say thanks. Show appreciation to your employees or clients by providing arts and cultural experiences, or recognize their contributions with a piece of artwork.

■ Contribute to your home community. When you partner with local arts, you enhance the economic development of the entire community.

At the Summit County Courthouse, often a high-stress environment, you might hear a live mini-concert from Tuesday Musical Association’s Decompression Chamber project. Goodyear has engaged Inlet Dance Company to teach its employees movement experiences they can do at their desks. Western Reserve Hospital features rotating art galleries that improve patient care and staff engagement.

You can do it, too. Perhaps a collaborative art project could bring your team closer at your next staff retreat. An original piece commissioned from a local artist could set your company’s holiday gift apart from the many others your clients will receive. An improv workshop in the lunchroom could unleash creativity in your team. Tickets to an arts event could be the perfect way to recognize a top performer.

Christine Amer Mayer is president of GAR Foundation, which awards grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Akron in the areas of education, economic and workforce development, arts and culture, basic needs, and nonprofit sector leadership.