Remote Work Takes Hiring to Another Level in Smaller U.S. Cities | lifestyles

The widespread adoption of remote work in the US has meant that local employers have learned to compete with out-of-state companies that offer big-city salaries.

The scale of change over the past two years is breathtaking. As of January 2020, less than 3% of job applications in the US on LinkedIn were for remote work. Now, that proportion has risen to more than half in small and medium-sized cities like Wilmington, North Carolina, and Sarasota, Florida.

It has been a boon to employees living in these cities. You can now apply for offers nationwide and often receive higher pay.

But they’re strained businesses that once could rely on local professionals to fill vacancies in areas like technology, accounting or marketing without having to deal with corporate giants like Facebook or Airbnb Inc.

Remote work is affecting all kinds of industries: regional grid operators from Arkansas to Indiana are reporting engineers being poached by competitors in a rush to electrify everything.

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“There’s more competition for workers in local markets and in ways that local employers haven’t had to deal with before,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, a website that collects salary information submitted by workers. “This is putting absolute upward pressure on wages for these local markets.”

In Madison, Wisconsin, where remote jobs accounted for about 42% of applications, according to networking platform LinkedIn, Planet Propaganda felt the impact of this competition.

Before the pandemic, the advertising company received up to 50 applications for new positions and was usually able to fill them within six weeks. Now, even with the help of recruiters, higher wages and perks, it’s taking months, said Emily Steele, a company executive.

“If you factor in living standards, the salary we give is comparable to New York,” Steele said. “But it’s different when someone lives here and Madison has to pay the cost of goods and services — but then they have a New York salary.”

For comparison, the average hourly wage in Madison is about 16% less than New York City, and house prices are about half that.

To stay competitive, Planet Propaganda offers a tight-knit corporate culture and more convenient hours than large companies on the East and West Coasts, Steele said.

ripple effects

There’s a knock-on effect from the work-from-anywhere revolution.

Those able to earn a big-city salary spend the extra money in shops, restaurants, and gyms, a boon to the local economy. But they’re also driving up property prices and leaving many local workers struggling to keep up.

“There’s a whole series of domino effects from this,” said Ross DeVol, president and chief executive officer of Heartland Forward, a nonprofit think tank focused on economic performance in the central United States

Poonam Kahlon, 36, switched to a fully remote role in February. The mother of two young children relocated near Wilmington, North Carolina, in June 2019 to become a human resources manager at a local company. Now she works for a company headquartered in New Jersey.

Pay wasn’t the main reason for her – she wanted a better work-life balance and more time with her kids and husband. Employees like her are pushing local businesses to offer hybrid options and higher wages.

“You’re going to miss out on good talent if you’re not flexible with the workforce,” she said.

Lisa Leath, founder of a Wilmington-based recruitment firm that primarily serves companies in southeastern North Carolina, said remote work has also helped attract talent from across the country, drawn to the lifestyle and beaches.

“We have to look at compensation basically every month or every other month to make sure we’re on track with the market because it’s hard enough to find people,” she said. “So once you’ve got your team complete, you want to make sure you keep it.”

poach engineers

Nearly 1,000 miles away in Little Rock, Arkansas, nonprofit grid operator Southwest Power Pool is also having a hard time retaining workers lured by remote work offers from far-flung employers.

Southwest Power Pool, which serves nearly 19 million people in more than a dozen states, roughly doubled companywide revenue to about 8% to 9%, said Chief Executive Officer Barbara Sugg.

At least half of the graduates are engineers, but IT staff are also being poached with salaries that are often 30 to 50 percent higher than on the web, she said. Most employees who left for other jobs stayed on site.

All seven state and regional carriers in the US mainland reported facing similar challenges. At Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which serves 42 million people in states like Indiana, Iowa and Michigan, highly skilled engineers and other employees are lured away from competing grids, utilities and renewable energy developers.

As a result, network operators are allowing some employees to work from home, raising wages, and encouraging people with different levels of experience to apply for positions they might not have previously considered. Southwest Power Pool even hired three fully remote employees who live in other parts of the state and country — something unheard of for grid operators before the pandemic.

Nationwide, local companies are getting creative. Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing agency Robert Half, said many smaller companies tend to hire candidates who may not have all the necessary technical skills and then train them.

Benjamin Jones, CEO of Mobile reCell, an IT company based in Fishers, Indiana, follows a similar strategy: “We’ve focused on the philosophy of empowering people at an early age.”

Southwest Power Pool CEO Sugg stressed the need to adapt to the new world.

“The reality is that people in Arkansas can now work anywhere,” she said. “The world around us has just changed abruptly and we have to change with it.”

Remote Work Takes Hiring to Another Level in Smaller U.S. Cities | lifestyles

Source link Remote Work Takes Hiring to Another Level in Smaller U.S. Cities | lifestyles

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