Talent in the New Age of Work: St. Pete EDC Event Provokes Lively Discussion

Talent was the topic at a recent St. Pete EDC Investors-only event sponsored by Power Design. A panel of HR experts examined how employers need to change how they look at hiring in a tight labor market. Some of the key takeaways were:

Compromise: Employers need to decide what they’re going to compromise on. What is really a “must” instead of a “nice to have”? Perhaps someone doesn’t need to have a four-year degree or 10 years of experience. Even if you can find someone who ticks every box, you may not be able to afford them. The one thing not to compromise on? Commitment to the job and to the company. Jim Reznicek, VP of HR for Jabil said, “Always hire smart. If I’m looking for the 10-year person, I’ll take the 4-year person who’s smart any day.” Gina Curry, VP & co-founder of NextPath Career Partners noted that the most successful employers are those who have really homed in on requirements.

Hiring is Like Housing: Hiring, like housing, is hot—speed is of the essence. The candidate is king, and you must keep them engaged by being quick and transparent in the hiring process.

New Hybrid Life: Employers focused on being 100% onsite face a challenge. As Sondra Seiter, Project Manager for Talent Connections for Tampa Bay at St. Petersburg College, pointed out, college students have been working remotely and have been pivoting constantly during their time at school, and they expect employers to be similarly nimble. When working with leadership disinclined to allow remote work, the panel advised HR leaders to educate their executives through research and employee surveys about hybrid and remote work. The panel also discussed the importance of educating employees about the benefits of having some in-person time, including networking and mentoring opportunities. One panelist recounted a company policy that employees who commit to three days in the office get an assigned place, while those working just one or two days use hoteling spaces.

Culture: The panel debated the importance of culture in the new hybrid workplace (is it more or less crucial?), but all agreed on the need for companies to treat employees as human beings. Kris Lucas, COO of CareerSource Pinellas noted that one of the losses in a remote workplace is the ability for employees to communicate with higher-ups the way they might previously have done one-on-one or in a town hall. Now, employers must keep employees engaged with leadership and give them more control in communications to leadership.

Understand the Why: Companies need to have a culture that transcends demographics. Employers should focus on commerce: what about the company’s culture is good for the community? As important as “getting stuff done” is HOW stuff gets done. The panel discussed ESG (environment, sustainability, and governance) and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) programs and the need for companies to be clear on what they hope to accomplish with these programs. Both investors and the younger generation of workers expect companies to have a voice on ESG

Resources: The panel and group discussion noted that there are resources in the community for employers to recruit recent graduates, build a pipeline of qualified workers, and retrain workers with new skills. The EDC can help employers connect with these resources; contact J.P. DuBuque at jpdubuque@stpeteedc.com for assistance.

Brand: The panel wrapped up with a brief discussion of brand. J.P. DuBuque, the EDC’s president & CEO, recounted the story of the CEO at a company that had relocated to St. Pete who was complaining that they were having a difficult time recruiting. DuBuque connected him to a peer in the industry, who reported back that the relocated company had an unappealing career page on their website that deterred potential applicants. This was a reminder of how companies need to be mindful of how they present themselves on social media and the web.

Attendees then enjoyed networking, conversation, and delicious food and drink in Power Design’s beautiful PLEX space.

For more about St. Pete's talent, visit The Right People on our site.

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