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Power Breakfast preview: Finding workforce in creative ways


Companies continue to look for unique strategies to draw in more workers as nearly every industry faces tight labor markets. At our upcoming Power Breakfast, we’ll hear about unique strategies to recruit employees through inclusive hiring practices.

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023 | 7 a.m. networking, 7:30-9 a.m. program
Location: Des Moines Heritage Center, 120 E. Fifth St. | REGISTER HERE

Ahead of the event, we asked our panelists to share: What should be a major focus for employers when it comes to hiring and retention in 2023? Here’s what they had to say.

Ahmed Agyeman, director, Evelyn K Davis Center for Working Families at DMACC Urban Campus
In addition to hiring candidates based on experience, employers must be ready to sell their employee value proposition to prospective employees. They must understand and build a community that fosters a culture of engagement and inspiration and leads to high-performance teams. This means a shift from focusing solely on bottom-line results to including work-life balance and well-being beyond wellness (recognizing the individual and needs outside their professional work) that leads to thriving teams and not burnout.    

Kathy Anderson, deputy division administrator, Iowa Workforce Development’s Business Engagement Division
When it comes to finding talent, 2023 will likely continue to be a challenging year for employers. Employers who are flexible in scheduling and competitive in compensation will have more success than those who are not. While there may still be challenges, employers are having success — even when working to fill historically hard-to-fill roles. By using resources available to them through their IWD Business Engagement Consultant, one Marshalltown employer recently received 50 applications over the span of just a few days. Through partnerships and creativity, employers can make it easier, even if it’s not yet as easy as we’d all hope.

Ryan Bratvold, business development manager, BrownWinick Law Firm
The pandemic changed the way many people think about work. While money is an important factor to many, we’re seeing a greater emphasis on things like flexibility, remote work, benefits, work-life balance, mental health resources, transparency in how decisions are made, and ensuring the company and work aligns with their personal values. Companies now must look at the bigger picture when it comes to attracting and retaining team members because individuals know that there are companies out there willing to offer more than competitive pay and your traditional benefits package. If we’re not adapting to compete for the right people and can’t keep them, we’ll get left behind.

Marvin DeJear, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Greater Des Moines Partnership
One major focus should be on ensuring we are providing opportunities for people of all backgrounds and experiences as they grow their life and career in Greater Des Moines. This can be done in part through diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives such as multicultural receptions and DEI events hosted by the Partnership and through leaders and managers intentionally focusing on providing an inclusive atmosphere in their organizations. It can also be done through marketing our region to diverse audiences across the country as a place they should consider when they are making life or career changes. The Partnership is revamping its national talent marketing campaign in 2023 with a message of “Do Something Greater.” The idea is that no matter what your background is, you can reach your full potential here. Finally, we must continue to focus on creating opportunities for traditionally untapped talent sources such as people with disabilities and returning citizens.

Georgia Van Gundy, executive vice president, chief of staff, chief customer officer, Hy-Vee
Employers have to make a mind shift when it comes to the hiring and retention of employees. The old methods will not bring the same success as they once did. We are still in a time where unemployment is low and there are many options where people can choose to work. At Hy-Vee, we have been focused on being “The Best Place to Work in America.” We know that people are looking for employers that have competitive pay, provide career opportunities and engage their employees. As part of our initiative, we market-price our wages quarterly, offer many new benefits and help take care of our employees during these challenging economic times with an employee discount.    

Employers have to focus on developing their talent from within to meet their workforce needs. Over the past couple of years, we have revamped our training and education opportunities to provide more options for our employees to build their career. We have added apprenticeships, more certifications and manager trainings. In addition to these internal training options, we offer our employees tuition assistance to further their college education. Employers also need to build relationships with nontraditional sources to find employees. We work closely with nonprofit organizations in our communities to build relationships with students and underrepresented populations and connect them with career opportunities at Hy-Vee.

At a time when “quiet quitting” is prevalent, focusing on employee engagement and well-being is critical. Mental health will continue to be a concern and employers will need to play a role in providing solutions. Last year we rolled out a multipronged approach to assist our employees with mental health needs and will continue to evolve well-being benefits. Flexible scheduling such as four 10-hour days, free meals on the weekends, and volunteer opportunities have also helped us engage and retain employees at Hy-Vee.


Emily Barske

Emily Barske is the editor of the Business Record.

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