All aboard Featured

7:07am EDT July 29, 2006
Northeast Ohio is a great place to live and work.

The past few years have been challenging ones for the local business community, so it is important to share the successes of area businesses. This year’s SBN/ERC Workplace Practices Survey suggests that the economy is improving and that organizations are responding to the shortage of top-performing employees.

A prime example of some encouraging news is that the number of organizations expecting layoffs has fallen for the sixth consecutive year (since this survey began) to a new low of 8.4 percent. Six years ago, that number was just more than 30 percent.

One of the ways organizations are meeting the challenge of attracting and retaining top-performing employees is through innovative recruitment and selection processes. More and more, organizations are embracing the concept that a bad hire can cost more than a vacancy, and allowing underachievers to remain can drag the entire company down.

The popularity of pre-employment drug testing and psychological assessments continues to rise; both are at a six-year high. It is great to see that organizations are taking steps to ensure hiring the best.

For the sixth year in a row, the most frequently reported challenge facing businesses today is attracting and retaining quality employees. We do not see this priority changing much.

Hiring and keeping top people is no longer an option — it is a business necessity. And there is little argument that the core initiative of any regional economic development effort is the attraction and retention of talented individuals to work at local organizations.

Besides, those organizations that attract and retain the best talent significantly increase their chances of beating their competition on a regular basis. We believe that the ongoing development of a great workplace is the silver bullet for your organizational success and Northeast Ohio’s regional economic success. Best of all, great workplace development is something you can control.

Based on the results of our survey, we believe there are other initiatives organizations can implement today to support their success and energize our local economy.

  • Buy local. Whether it is consulting, employee training, outplacement or staffing services, Northeast Ohio has high-quality and competitively priced products and services available. Each time you purchase locally, you support local job creation and retention.

  • Employ the unemployed. There are many talented individuals in this area, anxious to work, who can add significant contributions to your organization. Hiring these individuals supports economic development and creates an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.

Incidentally, the baby boomer group has been particularly hit hard in our area. These are the people who have made an investment in our local community — let’s not leave them behind.

  • Employ at least one intern this year. Northeast Ohio has a rich, talented pool of students who attend our local vocational institutions, universities and colleges. This very affordable labor pool comes equipped with high energy, great technical skill sets and a willingness to learn and participate on a team.

This is an opportunity to make an impact on the media-hyped brain drain.

  • Promote the region. It is incumbent upon every Northeast Ohio organization to brag about the many fine attributes of the region. One tool to help you do that is a free link to a state-of-the-art site, no advertising site that showcases our great region. Link to your Web site.

Congratulations to those organizations that get it and have risen to the challenge, and thank you again for participating in our annual survey. It is great to see Northeast Ohio organizations working toward becoming great workplaces for top-performing employees.

And, for those of you who haven’t boarded the train yet, there is plenty of room — hop on board and get ready for the ride of your life.

Pat Perry is president of ERC, the region’s largest organization dedicated to HR and workplace programs, practices, training and consulting. The organization also hosts NorthCoast 99 and has partnered with Smart Business Network since 1999 on the annual Workplace Practices Survey. Reach Perry at (440) 947-1280 or