NC Early Childhood Foundation’s Community Engagement Leader, Lisa Finaldi, joined a group of panelists for the UNC School of Government ncIMPACT Initiative discussing workforce shortages in North Carolina. Moderated by host Anita Brown Graham, panelists discussed why labor shortages exist in our state and explored innovative solutions and strategies to help alleviate those shortages.
Panelists in the first segment included:
- Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders, NC Department of Commerce
- Gerald Cohen, Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise
- Erin Fraher, Sheps Center for Health Services Research
Panelists in the second segment included:
- Lisa Finaldi, Family Forward NC
- Danielle Frazier, Charlotte Works
- Gary Salamido, NC Chamber
Family-Friendly Solutions Address Employer and Worker Needs
Two employers — Raleigh’s pay-what-you-can-cafe, A Place at the Table and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina — shared their stories of how their family-friendly workplace policies attract and retain talent. Since Finaldi works with businesses and helps them consider what kinds of family-friendly practices their employees need, she reminded the panel to step back and look at who our workforce is today.
“We see that Millennials and Generation X are 48 percent of our workforce and they are looking for a worker and family-friendly employer. That’s where they’re going to go work,” Finaldi shared. These workers want employers to ramp up their benefits and worker-friendly policies, including flexibility, paid leave, health insurance, and more.
Every business’ journey is different, but “the ROI [return on investment] is really about today and it is about tomorrow,” added Finaldi. Productivity increases and employees will stay because they like their job and they want to be there. So there is also a reduction in absenteeism.
Working parents, who make up just under one third of the total labor force in the U.S., are facing significant challenges staying in the workforce so we have to consider their needs and interests to support their continued engagement in the workforce for both our families and the employers. When they have access to family-friendly benefits, they’ll remain.
“When we look at our future workforce, which is our children, everyone can contribute to giving them the best start they can for a strong foundation for academic and career success. We’re building the workforce of our next generation,” said Finaldi.
Panelists agreed that creative strategies, putting people first, prioritizing education and training, and being mindful of evolving innovation were also important for employers and our communities. To hear all about the analysis of both the problems with the labor market and possible solutions explored, watch the video recording online!
How NCECF Helps Local Employers Recruit and Retain Workers
In our Family Forward NC Guide to Family Forward Workplaces, we’ve identified 18 policies – big and small – that have been shown to support families and help employers attract and retain talent. Family Forward NC also works one-on-one with small businesses and employers in key industries – manufacturing and hospitality – to provide additional tailored support. The team connects them with HR experts, at no cost, to help them determine what kinds of policies and practices would have the most impact for them.
Finally, we’re working on a certification program, which will launch this year, that will allow employers to show current and prospective employees that they’ve been independently reviewed and approved as family-friendly employers using best practices from medical and health organizations, early childhood organizations and the NC Early Childhood Foundation’s Pathways Action Framework, which was informed by hundreds of stakeholders – including businesses – from across NC.