The Gilbert Chamber Foundation hosted the 2020 Business & Education Summit on January 16th, which focused on employers, current and future employees, educators, and families partnering to strengthen the workforce in the East Valley and beyond. Over 100 community stakeholders, government, education, and small and large businesses participated in the conversation.
Following are the top five takeaways from the discussion on creating a robust workforce, attracting and retaining talent, and the economic development of Gilbert:
- A positive work culture and environment where employees feel a sense of belonging is key in a robust workforce.
- Identifying education and training needed and providing mentorship/internship opportunities are essential for Gilbert’s workforce.
- Today’s employees are looking for flexibility and a work-life balance.
- Gilbert’s strong economic climate is a result of a pro-business, family-focused community.
- Stakeholder groups can fuel Gilbert’s economic development by collaborating to help prepare students for the workforce.
#1: A positive work culture and environment where employees feel a sense of belonging is key in a robust workforce.
Many participants agreed that the main feature of a healthy, robust workforce is a positive culture and environment where employees feel a sense of belonging and can take pride in their work. Employees want to work for a company whose mission aligns with their personal values; they want to make a difference and they want their employer to do the same. Other important features included a diversified workforce (varied backgrounds, demographics, skills, experience, ages, etc.), leadership and growth opportunities, good leadership, and a value and respect for all employees regardless of their position in the company.
#2: Identifying education and training needed and providing mentorship/internship opportunities are essential for Gilbert’s workforce.
Participants discussed ways that stakeholders (employers, employees, educators, families) could collaborate so that everyone would benefit from a robust workforce. They concluded that identifying education and training needed and providing opportunities for career mentorship and internships would help promote a robust workforce in Gilbert. In addition, having open discussions with key stakeholders who are committed to the health of the community, and bridging gaps (generational and skill) were also important.
#3: Today’s employees are looking for flexibility and a work-life balance.
When it comes to best practices in attracting and retaining employees in today’s workforce, employees are looking for flexibility and a work-life balance. They want to adjust their work schedule to their busy lives, not the other way around. Employees are also looking for companies that align with their personal values, provide great benefits including professional development opportunities, as well as career pathways and growth potential. Being micromanaged is a thing of the past; employees want to be empowered, have autonomy, and be trusted by their employer.
Some common values and goals of employers and new employees entering the workforce include working with a sense of purpose and value, providing opportunities for giving back, and being open to new ideas.
#4: Gilbert’s strong economic climate is a result of a pro-business environment and family-focused community.
Gilbert’s pro-business (both small and large) environment as well as the family and community-focused, small-town feel are major contributors to its strong economic climate. Other factors include the overall infrastructure of the Town, a business environment that promotes co-collaboration and partnership opportunities, and community engagement from Gilbert’s digital marketing team.
#5: Stakeholder groups can fuel Gilbert’s economic development by collaborating to help prepare students for the workforce.
Gilbert’s economic development as well as the entire East Valley will benefit from the collaboration of key stakeholders in preparing students for the workforce. Whether it be businesses providing shadowing and mentorship opportunities or internships for students, communicating workforce needs and requirements to educators, or parents and educators helping students develop soft skills and find their passion, all parties need to be engaged and have open discussions. Fueling the economic development of Gilbert also relies on stakeholders continuing to participate in local government and community events, and support lawmakers and candidates who support business and education.