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Want to attract top talent to your rural community? Be inclusive!

One of the big impacts of the Great Recession – as with many disruptive economic events – was the relocation of many young people away from rural communities and small towns to large cities. After all, this is where businesses are. The result is that businesses located in smaller cities and towns and rural areas are finding themselves faced with an aging workforce and fewer and fewer workers in their prime or formative years.

As David Harrison and Shayndi Raice write for the Wall Street Journal, this dilemma has led to many less-populated areas offering interesting perks to younger potential residents. “Relocate to Hamilton [Ohio] and the city promises $5,000 to help pay student loans,” they write. “Pack up for Grant County, Ind., and claim $5,000 toward buying a home. Settle in North Platte, Neb., and the Chamber of Commerce will hold a ceremony in your honor to present an even bigger check.”

The authors point out that this labor shortage has, in many locales, turned the traditional attitude toward jobs in small town America on its head. Instead of offering perks to bring businesses into an area to create jobs, they are offering perks to lure employees in to fill jobs.

The struggles of these towns and cities to attract younger workers should be a wake-up call to the businesses in those towns. While many companies increasingly see the need to work on altering aspects of their company culture to attract younger workers, certain lessons are often learned earlier in big metropolitan areas than in more rural locations. In this case, just because younger, qualified workers are moving to your town, doesn’t mean they want to work for your company, or that if they do take a job with you, they’ll stay.

Faced with an exodus, of young, qualified employees from their communities, communities are trying to roll out the red carpet to keep the human capital they have, attract lost talent back to the area and even bring in newcomers. Businesses in those communities should take notice and think about what they can do to make their company an attractive destination for the new arrivals.

One critical cultural move—a move toward inclusion. Generations Y and Z are well recognized as much more inclusive generations than those that preceded them. Want to attract and retain young talent? Be inclusive!

Becoming an Inclusive Leader

Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage


Are you tired of workplace diversity training that does not link to business? Are you tired of tactics that don’t drive business results? InclusionINC has inclusion training solutions and strategic consulting that link inclusion to employee engagement, productivity, innovation and retention, moving inclusion beyond tactics to a critical business strategy.

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