DWD logo

Tony Evers, Governor
Caleb Frostman, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

Successful Workforce Recruitment and Retention Starts with Adequate Pay and Accessible Benefits

A Guest Column by Caleb Frostman; Secretary-designee, Department of Workforce Development

Throughout the month of September, I celebrated Workforce Development Month by traveling the state and meeting with businesses and their staff to discuss our agency's strong workforce programming, but just as importantly, to hear from Wisconsin's private employers about which attraction and retention strategies are working well. The companies represented a diverse set of industries across Wisconsin, but their attraction and retention tactics were surprisingly similar: Pay a good wage, provide a benefits package employees can access without worrying about the economic impact of utilizing, be creative, flexible, and trusting in the structuring of a workplace culture, and address workforce barriers when possible.

Examples of leading and innovative compensation and benefits included generous retirement contributions, faster employee eligibility for vacation, paid family leave, and company contributions to employees' Health Savings Accounts in the amount of their insurance plan's out-of-pocket maximum. As one employer put it, they felt it was best for their business's bottom line to ensure that employees had enough financial "oxygen" to be able to be engaged, fulfilled citizens in their community and to bring their best, most productive selves to work. Many of the successful companies also provided work-from-home and flexible scheduling options, a compelling option for many of their employees.

Another common theme among businesses experiencing success in attraction and retention in a historically tight labor market was embracing non-traditional hires, thereby expanding their pool of potential candidates. Throughout the month, I was amazed at the passion from employers championing the benefits to their business of hiring those reentering society from our correctional systems, as well as hiring individuals with disabilities.

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is proud to be partnering with the Department of Corrections (DOC) to locate new job centers within, as well as place mobile job labs at, correctional facilities in Wisconsin. DWD and its partners provide transitioning inmates with career readiness programs, job search assistance, resume development, as well as access to training programs such as pre-apprenticeship, registered apprenticeship, and skills boot camps.

DWD oversees the state's job and training placement programs for individuals with disabilities that are housed within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). The division's mission is to help those with disabilities find a job, keep a job, or find a better job. We were grateful to meet so many profitable businesses throughout the month that prioritize hiring individuals with disabilities to the benefit of their company in more ways than one.

I was also heartened to see businesses partnering with their local community action agencies. One such partnership in Southwestern Wisconsin funded transportation to bring 10 employees from a neighboring village to a local food manufacturer. Additionally, the company provides temporary housing to individuals interested in relocating from outside the region, removing yet another potential barrier to employment.

When it comes to talent attraction and retention in a tight labor market, there is no one solution. However, the Wisconsin companies finding success are doing so by providing strong wages and benefits, prioritizing inclusivity, which expands their candidate pool, and addressing barriers to employment such as housing and transportation when possible. DWD looks forward to complementing these strategies with workforce programming that provides widespread opportunity, upward economic mobility, and in-demand transferable skills for generations to come.