Northeast Ohio employers posed to focus on proactive thinking, annual survey shows

Pat Perry

Pat Perry, president, ERC

Now in its 15th year, the ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey highlights key trends in the Northeast Ohio business community to provide employers insight into attracting and retaining top talent.

Although the following trends draw from several areas ranging from benefits packages to recruitment to community service, this year’s survey suggests that after some stagnation, employers are finally in a position to strategize, plan and implement policies and practices to emphasize proactive thinking for the future.

Planning ahead

With factors such as the unemployment rate moving in the right direction over the past few years, employers once again are thinking more about the longevity of their organizations and their employees — and are challenged with attracting and retaining talented employees.

Voluntary turnover rates are relatively stable since last year, but remain at some of the highest rates seen in years. Employers are reacting to this trend with increased financial assistance for work-related skills training and education.

Employers are also helping employees plan for their futures, thanks to more robust 401(k) offerings. Companies are becoming more likely to provide matching contributions, trending toward larger percent matches, typically in the 3 to 6 percent range.

Flexibility all around

Work/life balance has been a major trend nationally. This year’s survey indicates that employers continue to respond with additional options for workforces.

Flextime, particularly among non-manufacturing organizations, which saw a 14 percent hike to just under two-thirds of employers, and work-from-home options, up 6 percent even among manufacturers, continue to see increases among Northeast Ohio employers.

Another aspect of flexibility is the ability to simply take time off work, no matter what the need might be. Nearly 39 percent of all participating employers offer this option.

Conversely, employers are also looking for flexibility. Although the increase in temporary workers is up by about 1 percent over 2013, 4.5 percent of participating employers now report they employ at least some temporary workers.

Another type of flexibility that experienced growth is focused on social media sites, primarily LinkedIn, which saw an overall 12 percent increase in use for recruitment purposes.

Interestingly, this rise was coupled with a decrease in the use of online career centers, which emphasizes employers’ increasing use of social media as a recruitment tactic.

Building community

Much research has demonstrated that the common bond created when reaching out into the community to help others strengthens the workplace community.

This year’s survey suggests that more employers, particularly in the manufacturing industry, are applying this method of community service since more have received community involvement awards than in the past.

By helping to emphasize the growing list of positive characteristics our region has to offer job seekers, employers are able to both more successfully recruit candidates and simultaneously help put the region’s population back onto a trajectory of growth.

Finally, thank you to this year’s survey participants and to Smart Business for 15 years of survey collaboration. In addition we would also like to acknowledge the NorthCoast 99 winners over the past 16 years ( who help strengthen our region by demonstrating excellence attracting and retaining top talent.

Pat Perry is president of ERC, Northeast Ohio’s largest organization dedicated to human resources and workplace program, practices, training and consulting.
(440) 684-9700
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