Spokane Journal of Business

Publisher’s Notebook: Quest for talent will return as key challenge for employers

Best Places deadline nears …

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So here we are, more than a year into the pandemic and still seeing unemployment rates higher than those reported before the coronavirus began raising havoc in our lives and livelihoods. Yet even today, the tales of job openings being hard to fill are increasingly common and we know instinctively that as we emerge from the crisis, the labor market most certainly will tighten.

All of which reminds us of the reality that we always understood, but perhaps became distracted from as we navigated COVID-19: To be competitive in the talent market—or more specifically to be able to attract and retain the best workers—we must focus, always, on employee engagement.

Six years ago, the Journal of Business, along with some outstanding partners, launched a program that helps employers understand how their employees feel and where the organization stacks up in the competition for talent. It’s called Best Places to Work Inland Northwest. Since then, we have recognized dozens of employers here who engaged in a research-based survey process of their employees and emerged ranked as Best Places to Work.

Beyond the recognition piece, we have heard from participating employers that going through the program helps them identify what they are doing well and what they need to improve as employers. Only good can come from that kind of introspection.

To conduct the research, we hire a national research firm that gathers comprehensive information about the employers themselves and then polls their employees, anonymously of course. Participation is free, though employers have the option to buy a detailed report about their employees’ aggregate responses.

Based on those surveys, the firm provides us with a ranking of participating organizations, and we publish that list in a supplement to our Oct. 7 issue. We also plan to celebrate those employers at a live event on Oct. 6.

This is a great opportunity for employers, especially those without big budgets that can be invested in employee engagement. Participating employers are eligible to make the Journal’s list of Best Places to Work, and, if they do, to also use the Best Places logos on their websites and other promotional and recruiting materials.

They also could choose to buy the optional report from Best Companies Group, which will detail, in aggregate, employee response data, as well as how the organization stacks up against others in the region.

But the deadline for participating is coming soon—May 28—so you’ll need to act quickly. Signing up is easy and the research firm will then walk you through the steps, which will take place later in June and through July. You can sign up at the program’s website, www.bestplacestoworkinw.com. You can also contact me directly if you have questions, at publisher@spokanejournal.com.

None of this would be possible without the strong support of our founding major sponsors to the program, Providence Health Care and the Inland Northwest Society for Human Resource Management.

I strongly encourage you to consider participating in this program. This crisis will pass. Attracting and retaining talent will always be a focus.

  • Paul Read

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