Circumventing talent scarcity
CEOs are increasingly concerned over the quality of talent, and, in our recent poll, many suggested they fear a much smaller qualified talent pool outside of large metro areas. But Matherly says employers in his region can hire top-tier talent at a fraction of the cost without sacrificing quality. He says the level of bachelor’s degree or higher attainment far exceeds the U.S. average, at 36.1 percent vs 31.8 percent.
“We have ten Fortune 1000 companies headquartered here and several major divisional headquarters. We are a net migrater of talent, particularly from Washington, DC; New York, NY; Baltimore, MD; Charlottesville, VA; and Hampton Roads, VA,” he explains. “Business leadership has helped create a multidimensional ecosystem for developing education and training strategies to meet the current and emerging needs of companies operating in the region.”
Brian Brown, corporate COO and general counsel at AvePoint, an independent software vendor and manufacturer headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey, shares his experience: “We have top-tier talent who made the decision to forego major market living and the sticker price that comes with that lifestyle. As one of the largest technology employers in the area, AvePoint happens to be in an attractive industry that exudes growth and learning opportunities. Even though salaries are 10 to 20 percent less than average salaries nationally, working and living in Richmond is quite affordable, with its Southern charm and proximity to Northern cities that our workforce has chosen to designate as nice getaway locations.”
Research indeed shows that mid-sized metropolitan areas offer companies the ability to easily recruit equitable talent at a fraction of the cost. In Richmond, salaries are, on average, 20 percent less than major metros in the Northeast and real estate costs, nearly one-third. What’s more, the majority of young workers, who typically earn lower wages, at least on a learning curve, often can’t afford to live in large, urban cities. They are, therefore, building a qualified and motivated talent pool that employers who turn a blind eye to the lower-cost market strategy may not be able to tap into.
“We have allowed some associates to work remotely and to relocate to lower cost markets,” commented the president of an upper mid-sized manufacturing company in Ohio. “We are already spread out among several locations and don’t want to lose the talent where they currently live and want to stay.”
And with the rise of telecommuting and flexible working policies, the move towards a more modern, mobile work environment may soon permeate the corporate world, allowing both employers and employees to keep costs at a minimum while enjoying a greater quality of life. “Companies should always have a diverse team and footprint,” observed the divisional president of a large industrial manufacturing corporation. “Technology and work cultures make it too easy not to.”
Matherly says his area is gaining 19,600 new residents annually with an average age of 26, and McKesson Medical-Surgical President, Stanton McComb, says his company has benefitted from this young and diverse talent pool. “It has been a strategic advantage for us.”