Tips to Engage a Younger Work Force

By Becky McCraygraphic

When your business is based in a small town, your number one issue is likely your work force: You're trying to find, hire, train and keep quality people from a small pool of talent that gets smaller every year. What can you do to improve your work force?

Start engaging the young people in your community. It’s not just about youth projects or seeing youth as assets. It’s about building a sense of belonging and community. It's also about building relationships—relationships that will stick with kids long after they head to college, and that will make them want to return.

How do you go about building those relationships? Here are some ideas for actions you can take in your own community.

Action Ideas:

  • Get involved with career exploration. Participate in job-shadowing and career days.

  • Hire a local high-school student as an intern. Invite them to return during summers while they are in college.

  • Sponsor a scout troop or youth group. Allow them to meet at your business. Speak at a meeting, or just sit in. Stay with the group as they grow up in the program.

  • Talk to young people. Tell them why you choose to live here. Explain why you want them to get an education and return.

  • Ask kids for help with your business. Hold a design or naming contest for students. Ask what they would do if they were in charge. Get their opinions. Let them make suggestions. Kids have great imaginations!

  • Take young people to "grown up" meetings like Rotary Club or chamber of commerce. Help them to take part in the discussions. Pay their dues, if necessary.

  • Share your town's parks and recreation plans with youth groups. Ask them to help develop, decorate or improve your parks.

Becky McCray is a business owner, entrepreneur and social media consultant. She can be reached at