Spokane Journal of Business

Publisher’s Notebook: The crisis will pass; need for talent will endure

Best Places deadline nears …

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Clearly, this pandemic has forced our attention to the near-term reality of high unemployment and need to survive a historic economic and societal challenge. Sixty days ago, we were talking about how tight labor markets were making it critical that we focus on employee engagement in hopes of attracting and retaining the best workers. Now, absent those tight labor markets, should we be any less focused on that?

I’ll let you answer that question on your own, but here are two thoughts: First, this crisis will end and tighter labor markets will return; and second, aren’t you glad you attracted the very best employees you could prior to the crisis, the ones who are now helping you through it?

Perhaps we should press the pause button on this awkward time, just long enough to think about an opportunity we have to learn from your employees and set the stage for how we can become or continue to be great employers.

Five years ago, the Journal of Business, along with some outstanding partners, launched a program here that helps employers understand how their employees feel and where the company 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 staffs 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 knowledge.

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’ 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. 8 issue. We also hope to celebrate those employers at an event on Oct. 7.

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 29 – 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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