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Making a Living, Having a Life: Why Top Talent Gravitates to Top Locations

Florida consistently ranks at the top of that list, making it easier to recruit top talent who will want to stay and grow your company.

Location is more than a place: it’s a dynamic factor for your company’s growth.

Starting or growing a company pivots on your company’s ability to find, hire, and keep the right mix of people for the jobs you have and the jobs you expect to add. When you choose a location, you also choose the conditions for employees’ professional opportunities, their lifestyles, the context for their families’ daily lives, and even corporate culture.

That’s why strategic human resource directors think holistically about location. They examine a spectrum of factors:

Are there enough qualified potential hires in the area?

Is this a place where prospective employees would relocate?

Are current employees happy living here?

Does this area offer educational opportunities, lifestyle amenities, and conveniences for staff at all levels, and at all stages of life?

If the answer is no, you’ll have trouble growing and maintaining your business.

Florida is the intersection of all these key factors.

It is the state where people most want to live, according to a 2015 Harris Poll survey. And the Sunshine State is one of the top two choices for each generation, from Millennials to the 70+ crowd. Miami and Orlando are the fifth and tenth most-preferred cities in the country where people want to settle, according to the Harris research.

Hiring for the long term means offering talent the total package: a great job with great co-workers in a place where they can live the lives they envision. Talent consultants say that these are the most important factors for keeping the talent you need to drive sustainable corporate growth.

Employees are looking for things they can do outdoors throughout the entire year

Outdoor and leisure activities: Employees are looking for things they can do outdoors throughout the entire year, said Susan Bernstein, PhD, a career and leadership coach. “People spend a lot of time working, so being able to enjoy their leisure time and possibly raise a family in a good climate is important,” she says. An abundance of cultural activities nearby makes a location more attractive.

Amenities: Of course workers are looking for good corporate benefits and on-site conveniences and amenities, such as fitness centers and inviting, well-designed workspaces. But the area’s amenities matter too. Are there lunch spots close by? A nearby park to get some fresh air and a walk? Are there outdoor concerts to go to after work? “If you’re in a state where there’s plenty of things to do nearby, you’ll entice people,” Bernstein says. A Smart Growth America study showed that more companies are moving downtown or to suburbs rich with amenities, walkable areas and public transit. These expectations are shaping employees’ definitions of what a good place to work looks like.

Education and family activities: Employees with kids want good schools and a variety of afterschool activities. Kids don’t want to be cooped up indoors all winter, but would rather be running and biking outside, even in January. Families value doing fun things together on weekends, like going to the beach or an amusement park.

Airport access: While some remote towns have charm, few working families have time or patience for out-of-the-way locales, no matter how picturesque. Consider a location with easy access to a major airport. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to attract staff who must fly often. “If you need your employees to go on an airplane fast, and the closest airport is three hours away, it makes things difficult,” says Bernstein. If your nearby airport is a small regional one, that’s also a drawback, as employees may need to connect in other cities, injecting time, inconvenience, and potential friction to routine travel.

Colleagues and co-workers:  Smart people want to work with other smart people. Is there critical mass of like-minded professionals and enough of them to support chapters of professional associations and societies? It’s true that you might lose staff to competing or complementary companies. But that cuts both ways: you can recruit from the rich talent pool, too. With a range of strong employers nearby, your employees’ spouses will have opportunities for good jobs, increasing the depth of their roots in the area, especially for those relocating from another state.

Neighborhood matters: In addition to locating your company in a popular state or region, it’s helpful to also locate in a popular metropolitan area. Bernstein tells of one client who took a job as a human resources manager, but quickly started resenting the long commute on public transportation, followed by a 10-minute shuttle bus transfer. Since the company was in an office park with no amenities, and the nearest dining was a fast food restaurant a mile away, he felt trapped. He realized his onerous task of recruiting 500 people to build up the company due to poor location. He quit soon after.

Location, location, location. Give your company the best chance for success by putting down roots in a state where people want to live and work. Florida consistently ranks at the top of that list, making it easier to recruit top talent who will want to stay and grow your company.