Next Gen Talent Coach Warren Wright Keynotes ABCD Annual Meeting

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In the end, the goal for all communities and businesses is simple: attract, retain and engage talented, creative and passionate people. Without a robust pipeline of next generation talent, communities cannot compete – businesses cannot compete. So, while the goal is simple, the challenge is less so.

Last year the Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corporation’s keynote address by author Melody Warnick talked about the importance of becoming rooted in a community. How can economic development intermediaries help people become so connected with a place, that they not only stay for a lifetime, but also advocate for others to join in?

This year we wanted to drill down on that theme and provide our regional community with information and tactics to employ in their own talent attraction strategies. Talent attraction is a numbers game and the Millennial generation alone is the largest in our history – there are 75 million of them. So if you are interviewing job candidates anytime soon, you are most likely sitting across from, emailing, texting, face-timing, instagramming, or snapchatting, with a Millennial. And the GenZs and Virtuals are waiting in the wings.

With that as the backdrop, ABCD hosted nationally recognized author and researcher Warren Wright who provided the keynote address on this critical topic. Warren started the firm “Coaching Millennials” in response to an overwhelming demand by companies to help hire and manage Millennials. For the last 5 years, he partnered with economist and historian Neil Howe who gave Millennials their name. Working with Howe they underscored the power of generations to shape culture, society, and workplaces in their own image. Yet too few people recognize this influence.

More than 300 gathered at the Blair County Convention Center this month to hear his message which both dispelled some myths and reaffirmed others. Wright noted that to attract Millennials and generations beyond, businesses and communities must recognize four key realities that to a great extent define and drive the behavior of our largest work-age co-hort. They are: 1) Work-Life Integration; 2) Community Collaboration; 3) Risk Aversion; and 4) Consumer Authenticity.

If you want to get this talent attraction thing right, you must recognize and blend both work-life with post-work time. Work extends to all hours of the day and well beyond the walls of an office. Next generation workers expect to be connected, but in exchange, demand more flexible hours and quality work environments that accommodate an active and vibrant lifestyle.

Communities also need to welcome and demonstrate collaboration between groups and interests, especially public-private partnerships. Millennials want welcoming and highly functional communities in which they are able, and are encouraged to, participate in positive change. And they can tell which communities are authentic and working that way as well as the places where the needle is pointing downward.

Wright also noted that the next generation are not risk takers. They opt for secure and stable environments along with healthy lifestyles. Noting that less than 4 percent of them smoke versus 18 percent of the previous generation.

And finally, glossy pictures and polished videos don’t resonate with next generation consumers. They want and seek out authentic messages and visuals about all things; communities, products, and businesses. Say who you are and what you are about and those that find themselves in that message will seek you or your product out.

Warren’s full slide deck and contact information can be found by clicking here. Stay tuned for more updates and events focused on talent attraction here in the First Frontier Blair County.

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