- Young professionals seek growth opportunities and work that aligns with wants, values, needs, and life expectations. Two of the key elements that attract young professionals are flexibility and stability.
- Lake Country offers various “young professional programs” that unite intelligent young individuals to develop leadership skills, share ideas, network, gain knowledge, and more.
- As a part of the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s tactics and strategies to attract and retain more young talent in Waukesha, they’ve refreshed and improved their Young Professionals programs to serve and appeal to the young professional community more effectively.
- The city of Oconomowoc is also prioritizing attracting and retaining young professionals to help pave the path to the future via the Young Professionals Group. The vision is to facilitate a thriving community of young professionals that will play a vital role in the county’s future development.
- The housing shortage may make it more challenging to retain and attract young professionals to Wisconsin and areas like Lake Country. Moreover, a new study revealed Wisconsin’s housing shortage would likely worsen over the next decade.
- A McKinsey study found that 2 in 3 professionals say COVID-19 pushed them to reflect on their purpose in life, and millennials were three times more likely than other generations to report reevaluating their work choices.
- After experiencing COVID-19, few want to resume overwhelming work schedules. Businesses are left to adapt and reconsider long-standing and traditional expectations, like the 9-5 work day, to stay relevant to budding talent.
Northwestern Waukesha County’s Lake Country includes over twenty Wisconsin lakes and their surrounding region. The area contains various cities, towns, and villages, including Hartland, Pewaukee, Delafield, Waukesha, Nashotah, Okauchee Lake, Summit, Lac La Belle, and Oconomowoc.
Lake Country is within easy distance of Milwaukee and Chicago. It is an incredible place to call home, especially when you snag a spot on or near sparkling Wisconsin water. It became popular for wealthy city dwellers in the late nineteenth century. While Lake Country today has plenty of year-round residents, it maintains a reputation as a comfortable and scenic spot to settle down or vacation, with plenty of recreational amenities appealing to all ages.
So what are the cities, towns, and villages within Lake Country doing to attract and retain young professionals?
Young Professionals in Lake Country, WI
Young professionals today are looking for opportunities to grow and aren’t shying away from challenges. Instead, they seek positions that align with their values, wants, needs, and life expectations; and they want professional development.
Today, we live in a world where work is tech-driven, fast-paced, and competitive. As a result, employers want more entrepreneurial thinkers, problem-solvers, creative and adaptable minds, and initiative-takers. Young professionals are an excellent way to bring unique and valuable insight to the table. So that leaves us asking the big question, what do young professionals want?
Wisconsin employers still need help attracting and retaining workers amid the nationwide labor shortage. As a result, thousands of positions have yet to be filled across the state. In this environment, attracting and retaining young professionals is vital to ensuring the state can maintain an adequate workforce.
Fortunately, Lake Country offers various young professional programs that unite intelligent young individuals to develop leadership skills, share ideas, network, gain knowledge, and more.
Young Professionals of Waukesha County
Waukesha is commonly referred to as one of the best places to live in the badger state. The area offers an urban/suburban mix, and many residents own their own homes. It has many enjoyable places to visit, including parks, nature centers, breweries, vineyards, farmers’ markets, and more. Families and young professionals find Waukesha a comfortable and entertaining place to settle in. The county tends to lean conservative.
As a part of the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s tactics and strategies to attract and retain more young talent in Waukesha, they’ve refreshed and improved their Young Professionals programs to serve and appeal to the young professional community more effectively.
The WCBA understands that young professionals are the next generation of leaders and thinkers of Waukesha County. They aim to help these young individuals build their network, enrich their career and personal life, get to know one another, access professional development opportunities, and build lasting connections.
Workforce development is the top issue facing Waukesha County. The WCBA focuses on developing Wisconsin’s future workforce via partnerships with educational institutions. Secondly, attracting new talent to the area, and finally, retaining and fine-tuning the workforce. Their talent development programs provide valuable tools, knowledge, and resources to help develop and enhance future leaders.
The Alliance serves as a base for young individuals in their 20s or 30s who are trying to expand their professional community and find professional development opportunities to help them advance in their careers.
The Waukesha County Business Alliance offers:
- Professional Development Programs- meet with their Young Professionals group to develop your professional skills and advance your career. They recommend inviting a friend or coworker to the program to help you feel more comfortable networking, and it’s a great way to get to know coworkers outside your typical work setting.
- Emerging Leaders of Waukesha County- an annual awards program honoring young professionals who live or work in Waukesha and actively create and inspire a better vision for the county’s future.
- Access volunteer opportunities to become more involved with the Waukesha County nonprofit community and make significant differences in our community.
They also kicked off the new year with a Young Professionals Morning Mingle on January 19 to get young professionals excited and ready to do great things in 2023. It featured past recipients of the Emerging Leaders of Waukesha County Award, allowing attendees to ask questions about their journey.
Young Professionals of Oconomowoc
Oconomowoc is another part of Lake Country that has preserved its historic 19th-century charm and architecture. The area is home to grand Victorian-style homes that grace the lakeshores. In addition, plenty of homes and businesses are listed on the state and national Register of Historic Places.
The city of Oconomowoc is also prioritizing attracting and retaining young professionals to help pave the path to the future. The vision is to facilitate a thriving community of young professionals that will play a vital role in the county’s future development.
The Young Professionals group was established in 2009 to empower and support young business professionals by providing a high-energy, dynamic, and encouraging environment of education and networking.
The Oconomowoc Young Professionals Group hosts various meetings and events for young talent to participate in, such as:
- Young Professionals Coffee & Conversation- Start your morning with a cup of coffee and a meaningful conversation. This event is held on the second Friday of every month at Oconomowoc area coffee shops and other businesses. The idea is to create a valuable environment for networking and making new connections with other young professionals trying to advance their careers.
- Young Professionals Bags & Beers- Cornhole, bags, bean bag toss; whatever you call it, the Oconomowoc Young Professionals group encourages you to join them for some friendly competition with your fellow creative young minds. Get outdoors, breathe fresh air, crack open a cold one, and start making new connections! (Ages 21-40)
- Young Professionals Handshakes & Happy Hour- If mornings aren’t your thing, why not join the Young Professionals group for after-hours fun? Socialize, mingle, and chat with other professionals from various industries. Build new business relationships, share experiences, swap your tips and tricks, and enjoy the food and bar while you do it. (Ages 21-40)
- Young Professionals Educational Workshops- The Young Professionals group hosts workshops explicitly designed to provide young professionals with training to help gain business insights and develop leadership skills over breakfast or lunch.
Oconomowoc’s Young Professionals program is also keen on volunteering within the community. They have painted community artwork, planted trees, volunteered at county events, and much more.
Wisconsin Housing Shortage Projected to Get Worse, How Does This Affect Young Professionals?
The housing shortage may make it more challenging to retain and attract young professionals to Wisconsin and areas like Lake Country. Moreover, a new study revealed Wisconsin’s housing shortage would likely worsen over the next decade.
Contributing factors to the housing shortage include a recent slowdown in home construction and labor and supply shortages. In addition, many baby boomers are retiring but plan to stay in their homes for another 10-15 years.
The study also uncovered that to keep up with demand, Wisconsin would need to build approximately 140,000 new housing units over the next decade to accommodate individuals entering the workforce. While the goal of 140,000 new housing units in 10 years is indeed doable, it would take a lot of effort to get it all done amid the supply shortages we have seen in the construction industry.
Affordable housing will likely be increasingly challenging for young adults to find because of those baby boomers leaving the workforce and keeping their homes. Unfortunately, this trend automatically decreases the number of homes available for the younger generation of professionals trying to build a life in Wisconsin.
A housing shortage can significantly impact attracting and retaining young professionals. When housing is scarce and expensive, it can make it difficult for young professionals to find affordable and suitable housing, making the area less attractive.
Some ways that a housing shortage can impact the state’s ability to attract and retain young professionals include:
- Increased costs of living: A housing shortage can drive up the cost of housing, making it difficult for young professionals to afford to live in the area. This can make the area less appealing to those who are just starting their careers or businesses and may not yet earn high salaries.
- Finding suitable housing: A housing shortage can make it difficult for young professionals to find housing that meets their needs. This can include finding apartments or houses in good condition, in safe neighborhoods, and close to work or other amenities.
- Long commutes: A housing shortage can force young professionals to live farther away from their workplaces, resulting in long commutes. This can significantly deter those who value a good work-life balance.
- Reduced quality of life: A housing shortage can make it difficult for young professionals to find housing that meets their needs, leading to reduced quality of life. This can include things like needing more space to live comfortably or not being able to find housing that is close to the amenities they need.
- Lack of community: A housing shortage can make it difficult for young professionals to find housing in vibrant and diverse areas, making it difficult for them to feel connected to or inspired by their surroundings.
To mitigate the impact of the housing shortage on young professionals, Wisconsin should consider implementing policies that increase the supply of affordable housing, such as zoning reform, increasing funding for affordable housing development, and encouraging the conversion of existing properties into rental units.
If we don’t try to mitigate the impact of the housing shortage, Wisconsin’s youth may be forced to look elsewhere to secure the life they want, somewhere with more opportunity. If Wisconsin wants to keep young professionals in the state, it must produce more abundant and affordable housing to accommodate them.
How Smaller Cities Can Attract and Retain Young Professionals
While one of the more critical elements would be to increase the affordable housing available, there are plenty of other ways for small cities to attract and retain young talent.
There are several ways that Wisconsin could attract and retain more young professionals:
- Invest in education and job training programs: By investing in education and job training programs, Wisconsin can help ensure that its workforce is well-prepared for future jobs. This will make the state more attractive to young professionals looking for good job opportunities.
- Promote a high quality of life: Wisconsin can attract and retain more young professionals by promoting a high quality of life within the state. This can include things like good schools, safe neighborhoods, and access to outdoor recreational activities.
- Encourage start-ups and new businesses: Wisconsin can attract and retain more young professionals by encouraging start-ups and new companies to set up shop in the state. This can be achieved through tax incentives, grants, and other forms of financial assistance.
- Improve transportation and infrastructure: Improving transportation and infrastructure will make it easier for young professionals to move around the state and access job opportunities.
- Build a diverse and inclusive community: Building a diverse and inclusive community in Wisconsin will make the state more attractive to young professionals with different backgrounds and different experiences.
- Offer competitive compensation and benefits: Offering competitive compensation and benefits packages will make Wisconsin more attractive to young professionals looking for job opportunities with good pay and benefits.
- Create a welcoming environment for remote workers: With the rise of remote work, Wisconsin can make itself more attractive to young professionals by creating a more welcoming environment for remote workers.
Quality of Place
Quality of place, also known as “placemaking,” plays a role in maintaining and attracting young talent. A study from 2016 suggested that quality of place is a valuable element in attracting talent and building happy, healthy, flourishing communities. Small to mid-sized cities have learned to create the same diverse quality of place typically associated with big-city life.
A good example would be Jersey City, which has recently become a booming startup and innovation district with a lively restaurant and art scene and a reputation for safety and walkability. A spike in new development has accompanied this growth.
Smaller city transit systems have become expansive, updated, and reliable. For example, Denver opened the University of Colorado A Line in 2016, a highly successful commuter rail project that drastically reduced travel times from downtown to the city’s airport. Various transportation options, i.e., light rail, ferry, bus lines, etc., have also helped to support massive spikes in population.
Inclusivity and Diversity
Another way to attract more young professionals is to create a more inclusive workplace in terms of experience and background. The next generation of leaders is looking for a workplace that mimics the world itself; it’s full of different people with different experiences. For example, not everyone has five years of experience or a specific college education; not everyone has that opportunity.
Jamie Gibson, the founder of Flightess LLC, commented, “There is a gap in the industry right now where even entry-level positions require five years of experience or other qualifications.” He adds, “How does a young person get that experience?”
Gibson, along with many young professionals, would encourage employers to consider an individual’s professionalism, potential, energy, creativity, skill, and motivation they can bring to a team and less on the number of years in the industry.
Young professionals are passionate about what they are interested in or care about. Some have studied or prepared themselves for a certain industry for years, have become enthralled with it, and can give an organization something priceless; enthusiasm. Although, without several years of experience on their resume, their potential, energy, knowledge, skill, creativity, and enthusiasm are pushed aside.
A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm. Try thinking of the years they could have in the industry instead of the years they already have.
Flexibility & Security
A McKinsey study found that 2 in 3 professionals say COVID-19 pushed them to reflect on their purpose in life, and millennials were three times more likely than other generations to report reevaluating their work choices.
Various industries, such as investment banking or law firms, use their young talent to do the time-consuming, arduous work, resulting in long hours for high pay. Now that we’ve experienced COVID-19, few want to resume those overwhelming work schedules. Businesses are left to adapt and reconsider long-standing and traditional expectations, like the 9-5 work day, to stay relevant to the new, budding talent.
As businesses in Lake Country and Wisconsin, in general, will continue to compete for new talent, it’s essential to know that every generation’s expectations and needs are different. Young people want quality, convenience, inclusivity, flexibility, and security. If you can provide that winning combination to them, you’ll effortlessly build a large team of engaged, enthusiastic, dedicated employees ready to take on any task or challenge.