United Way of the Ozarks offers community engagement “toolkits” to help companies attract and retain employees


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – With supply chain issues, political infighting and pandemic fears, it’s no surprise that more and more people are isolating at home and looking for alternatives to working life.

“I think it’s very easy to disconnect today,” said Mark McNay, managing director of SMC Packaging Group.

“So what happens is people just go from home to work or from home to football practice and they end up living IN their community, but they don’t really live IN their community” , added Greg Burris, President and CEO of the United Way of the Ozarks. “So Community Engagement in a Box provides a master list, a catalog of all these different community engagement opportunities.”

Community Engagement in a Box is a corrugated box that looks like a tool kit, and United Way of the Ozarks has made 300 of them for local businesses and organizations.

The “tools” inside consist of researched information and names and descriptions of programs, organizations and volunteer work that people can get involved in to feel more part of the community.

“From a CEO’s perspective, I think what’s most useful in the toolbox is the data,” said Jena Holtberg-Benge, general manager of John Deere Reman. The company remanufactures all kinds of John Deere parts, and Holtberg-Benge explained why employees who get involved in the community are important to his business.

“We find that with engagement, whether it’s volunteer time or giving back, these employees tend to be much more engaged in things at work as well,” she said. “Like our employee-led safety committee or our employment engagement team. And that’s the kind of employee we want, isn’t it?”

“During the pandemic, a number of people have decided to do something different,” Burris added. “The big shakeup. But I think a lot of people are going to come back into the workforce at some point and say, “I want to do something, but I want it to be more meaningful.” And just by allowing them to engage in the community, their loyalty increases, their pride increases, and they become your best recruiters.

So, in other words, the toolkit is really about trying to get people to see their work as more than just a paycheck. It’s the idea that if they become emotionally invested in their community and the people in it, they will also care about their work and also be more passionate about their work and want to work there longer.

“I think people have hearts of gold and want to do the right thing,” McNay said. “And it’s our responsibility to involve them and let them know how they can get involved. That’s the biggest challenge we have is finding that opportunity for them and then supporting them as they try to pursue those opportunities. »

And while some think the labor situation will improve with the end of the pandemic?

“That’s not true,” Burris said. “The job curve reversed (more jobs available than people looking for work) in 2018 before the pandemic. So what we’re going to see over the next 20 to 25 years is that the competition for talent is going to get fiercer than it is today. And successful organizations and communities will have a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining talent. »

The ‘toolbox’ idea is already attracting attention from other fields.

“We’ve had a number of United Ways from across the country, including United Way Worldwide, expressing interest,” Burris said. “So this could become a national model that’s replicated across the country, because if you think about it, every community is competing for talent and every community is going to have to rethink how they recruit and retain that talent pool. “

If you would like more information about the Community Engagement Box, you can call United Way of the Ozarks at 417-863-7700 or message them at “[email protected]”.

To report a correction or typo, please email [email protected]

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