How Workforce Incentives Can Help Win the War for Talent


Every business leader wants the best employees on their team. But right now, and for the foreseeable future, there happens to be a stark shortage of excellent candidates.

The war for talent is on, and companies are suiting up for battle.

Enter… the government?

In the past, traditional grants, tax abatements, and free land were the main reasons companies sought government backing. But now, help building a successful employee base has become a top governmental request, as well. It isn’t that the idea is new. Government-funded workforce development programs have always been available; many companies just didn’t take advantage of them or weren’t aware they existed.

That has all changed in the last three to five years, though, thanks to a murky-to-navigate talent pool and an alarming shortage of workers anticipated.

“It’s across the whole industry spectrum,” says Eric Stavriotis, senior vice president, Chicago Occupier Practice Group at CBRE. “We used to see that, most notably, technology companies had a hard time finding engineering talent or technology talent. And I think that issue remains today, but now we’re hearing it from everybody. Labor is tight all around the country right now. Everyone is experiencing that competition.”

In fact, skilled labor shortages in financial and business services will have a potential deficit of 10.7 million workers globally by 2030, which could lead to a loss of $1.3 trillion in annual revenues, according to a recent Korn Ferry report. With startling numbers like that, companies are scrambling to prepare.

A deeper dive for talent

Across the country, states are improving and expanding their resources around workforce development and workforce incentives. In some cases, city governments are offering cash incentives to prospective residents in the hopes of attracting skilled talent. Some are even offering to pay off student loan debts in bids to fortify local workforce development efforts.

We get our clients to the table with these entities to help build customized workforce development initiatives that can help them execute and hire the right people and be successful

That effort is moving the needle. “Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina all have really great workforce development programs for companies that are hiring new people,” says Stavriotis.  “Those programs are helping the job market and helping potential employees understand that there’s a new employer in town and what kinds of jobs they’re hiring for.”

And the workforce development sector itself is eager to assist. “Now, more and more, we’re seeing that these economic development groups are ready to come to the table with customized programs around workforce,” says Stavriotis.

Those programs and initiatives are getting better. States, cities, and counties are willing to partner with their four-year universities and colleges, trade and technical schools, and even high schools to train students on in-demand skills. Those partnerships are not just for immediate needs, but they set companies up for long-term success when it comes to prospective employees.

Additionally, cultivating top talent doesn’t have to require above-market pay and benefits packages –by investing time instead of money, and by instituting the right training regimen, companies can more efficiently control their own destinies and build employee loyalty.

Bound by common interests

For example, when a technology company sought CBRE’s assistance building talent, the team met with all the economic development players to discuss how they could tap the myriad of university infrastructures and educational institutions right in their backyard to find the right talent.

“We help get companies to the table with the city, the county, the state, the universities, the trade school, the tech school – whatever that portion of the talent spectrum is that they’re trying to tap,” says Stavriotis. “We get our clients to the table with these entities to help build customized workforce development initiatives that can help them execute and hire the right people and be successful.”

That conversation helped the company understand and navigate the ways they could leverage those institutions and helped them get to their hiring goals faster.

“Companies are partnering better with those educational institutions to not just help train talent for a specific job over a six-week period, but to build a pipeline of talent to make sure the workforce is ready and available not only this year, but next year, and for years to come,” says Stavriotis.

Companies need to roll up their sleeves and leverage every potential asset in a city, a county, or a state. And we’re helping them do that

Now companies can have these conversations and ask for the precise assistance they need.  For example, a company may say, “In 2019 we need to hire five hundred people. What can the city, county, and state and the university do with me today to help make sure that we can hire those five hundred people tomorrow?” And they’re coming up with a variety of programs like apprenticeships, internships and co-ops to support that.

Plus, as manufacturing and white collar work become more specialized, the systems companies employ are increasingly proprietary, requiring not just a CNC machinist, but a CNC machinist who can run a company’s specific machines. This adaptability to the unique needs of the company is a major bonus. FastStart stands out from the pack due to its ability to quickly jump in and assist with just about any training requirement — and help a company find and train their workforce on the spot – whether it’s CNC machinists or call center agents.

“Companies now recognize they need help,” says Stavriotis. “Whether it’s 50 or 500 or 5,000 employees – they need help and partners. They need to roll up their sleeves and leverage every potential asset in a city, a county, or a state. And we’re helping them do that.”


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