Tag Archives: column

From the Editor-Best of Omaha 2019

November 12, 2018 by

Great stories are built from passion. I should know, I read a lot of great stories—nonfiction stories at the magazine, and fiction stores in the comfort of my home.

Best of Omaha is, in itself, a great story. The magazine published its first publicly-voted list in 1992, when my hair added at least three inches to my stature, and included such categories as “Best Place to Buy CDs and Tapes.” While the first-place winner, Homer’s, is still around, the category is not. And regardless of Pepsi’s efforts in the late 1970s and early 1980s to become the cola of choice with the “Cola Wars” campaign, Pepsi and Coca-Cola tied for first place in the category “Best Soda.”

The readers responded positively to the contest, and it became an annual feature of the magazine, expanding with a variety of categories each year. In 1995, the winners for “Best Known Omahan” were Warren Buffett, Willie Theisen, and Mrs. B. It would be interesting to see if Warren Buffett tops that list today. Conor Oberst, who started Bright Eyes in 1995, might give him a run for his money.

As the years progressed, the contest grew, and the listing went from publication inside Omaha Magazine to being one of the magazine’s eight annual issues. Today’s contest includes many categories that nobody would have thought of in the early 1990s, such as “Best Yoga Studio.” I was introduced to yoga in the mid-1990s via videotape, and outside of my university town, this practice was…well…not practiced much.

In other instances, the categories remain the same, but the winners from the first year are long gone. Ross’ Steak House won Best Steakhouse in 1992. The family-owned restaurant closed in 1996. In fact, only one of this year’s winners in the “Steakhouse” category was operating in Omaha in 1992.

The 300 categories in the following pages represent hours of hard work and passion—starting with voters, who told us their choices throughout the months of July and August. It is the work and passion of the staff, who sold advertisements and listings, photographed the images, and designed the pages. And we hope reading it is an act of enjoyment for you.

See the full list of 2019 winners here: http://omahamagazine.com/articles/best-of-omaha-2019/

Garbage In, Garbage Out

October 24, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Back in late 1969, America could do anything and meet any challenge. After all, those were the days of the Apollo Project. Neil Armstrong had taken his “small step,” and two days later blasted off the lunar surface, leaving behind the landing module’s descent stage and a collection of various scientific apparatus, tools, flotsam, jetsam, and flagpoles behind. In other words, we had successfully sent a man to the moon and back and left litter behind, because that’s what we humans do.

Speaking of garbage.

As a nation we were optimistic and sure of ourselves, and John Boyd of Falls Church, Virginia, was a visionary to match the times. Boyd had been working in the waste management field for years when he had his “Eureka” moment. What did America need? It all seemed so clear to him, America needed a household appliance that could convert our trash into neat little cubes—kind of like those bundles that Wall-E stacked sky high in that movie. It was a “can’t miss” idea, and Boyd got his patent. The kitchen trash compactor was born. The world was never the same.

Soon Kenmore, Whirlpool, and a host of brand names rushed the machine into appliance stores. The hydraulic power of the under-the-counter miracles would receive its daily allotment of debris and with a hum, a bit of a grinding noise, three or four clunks, a crack (no glass in the trash please), a slight ultrasonic hiss, and voila! That loose clump of garbage would be transformed into a super-dense odoriferous singularity. “What a boon,” the ads trumpeted, “Only take out the trash once a week!” 

The other thing we Americans are good at, besides having visions, is marketing. Trash compactor sales took off…at first…and then….somebody said, “Why would I spend $300 on a machine that turns 30 pounds of garbage into 30 pounds of garbage?” The light bulb went on above everybody’s head almost simultaneously, and the miracle appliance miraculously flopped.

Yes, Americans can achieve anything if we put our minds to it. The problem is that sometimes we achieve extremely stupid things.

Right now, some visionaries have a new vision, which of course, is what visionaries are supposed to have. They imagine our streets and highways full of driverless cars. Computers and little servo motors will, they say, seamlessly operate all our motor vehicles—even huge semi-trailer trucks—freeing us from the drudgery of paying attention to the traffic jam that surrounds us and giving us more time to stay riveted to our Twitter feeds for the latest absurdities of the dysfunctional electronic family we are all welded to these days.

Of course, the idea seems cool. Unless it’s foggy, or raining, or there’s a bit of construction on your route, or somebody tries to cross the street on foot. Yes, there can be, and have been, tragic consequences. OK, maybe it would be good news for Uber drivers, because none of them would work for Uber’s robot fleet anymore. Freedom! Other than that, it’s a cool idea that we should relegate to dystopic science fiction movies. Sometimes we humans have too many ideas. Ask John Boyd.

Driverless cars? Really? Why do we need a technology that will turn a freeway full of one million cars into a freeway full of one million cars?

Just asking.


Otis Twelve hosts the radio program Early Morning Classics with Otis Twelve on 90.7 KVNO, weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. Visit kvno.org for more information.

This column was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Omaha is a 52-Weekend Destination

September 18, 2018 by

When a Minnesota mom was looking for a December weekend getaway, she looked toward Omaha. Yes, you read that correctly: December and Omaha. Greta,* a blogger living in Minnesota, visited Omaha during the summer a few years ago. When she and her husband were looking for a fun family winter destination that was drivable, affordable, and offered lots of activities for their 18-month-old son, they thought Omaha fit the bill. And they were right—Omaha is a great winter destination for a weekend getaway. (Omaha is south of Minnesota…winter is all about perspective isn’t it?)

The city’s major attractions are all open year-round and offer unique indoor experiences during the winter months. When Greta and her family visited Omaha’s zoo last December, they had more than seven acres of indoor exhibits to explore. There weren’t huge crowds to compete with her toddler for great views of the animals. While she can’t pinpoint a favorite exhibit at the zoo, her son’s favorite spot was the aquarium. She loved the specially designed areas in the aquarium allowing her son to feel like he could almost reach out and touch the fish.  

The family also visited The Durham Museum during their Christmas at Union Station celebration. The magic of the holidays came alive as they explored the historic train cars, discovered how a train depot works, and bellied up to the old-fashioned soda fountain. It was a much different experience than she had during her summer trip.

When we look at research completed by Tourism Economics, an Oxford economics company, visitation to Omaha peaks in the second and third quarters as you would expect. In the fourth quarter, visitation is lower as the kids go back to school and winter sets in. But here is why visiting in the winter can pay off: hotel rates are generally lower and attractions are typically less crowded. 

Visit Omaha has created a new 52-Weekend advertising campaign to drive home the message that Omaha is a year-round destination for families, couples, and friends to get away for a long weekend. The ads are running year-round in Minneapolis; Kansas City; Des Moines, Iowa; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota—cities that are an easy drive away. From January through March, the number of people going to Visit Omaha’s website to plan a trip increased by 25 percent from residents of Minneapolis, 17 percent for those from Kansas City, and 9 percent from residents of Des Moines.

Omaha is not a city that hibernates during the winter months. The more Gretas who know that, the more business will be generated here. So, the next time someone asks you about the best time to visit Omaha, let them know it is any of the 52 weekends out of the year.

*Greta Alms is the blogger behind Pickles Travel Blog. Greta asked to partner with Visit Omaha last December. Her travel adventures, including her post about Omaha, can be found at picklestravel.com.


This column was printed in the October/November 2018 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Vets in Business

Whenever I think about the veterans I know who have started businesses after leaving the military, I reflect on the leadership qualities they learned and bring with them to the workplace. Honesty, responsibility, respect—yes, these are important values. But the best quality of them all, the one that uplifts and inspires me the most, is their extreme sense of honor. 

Having a sense of honor feels like an ancient thing, a deep and noble thing. When life is full of extreme trials and devastations, honorable people rise above the rest and stay focused on what is excellent. Others might give up or give in, succumb to rationalizations and workarounds, but those with a sense of honor have a strong appreciation of the good and the right, and they intentionally choose to live by their moral principles.

Notice, then, that the key to honor is as much about resolve and willpower as it is about having specific moral principles front of mind. Honor is an action word. Without consistent, calm, clear follow-through, a sense of honor is hollow.

When I visualize an honorable person, I think of an archer, focused on a bullseye, bow pulled taut
with an arrow ready for release. Years of dedication and practice enable the archer to remain cool and composed, shooting the arrow straight and true. Yes, for me, a sense of honor is acquired over time and through experience. 

These days, I think I have a pretty good ability to pick out businesspeople who are, or have been, in the military. I pick up on their sense of honor. When I recently met Richard Messina, owner of Play It Again Sports, his demeanor and description of how and why he runs his business exemplified his sense of honor. He could, so easily, buy used sports equipment for pennies for what they are worth and resell them for much more than they are worth. But his sense of honor directs him. He sees himself and his business as a part of the community and, so, unfair business practices are not acceptable. Rich was in the Air Force for 17 years. His aim is straight and true. 

To Rich and all Omaha vets: I admire your sense of honor and, in this, I want to be just like you.


This column was printed in the October/November 2018 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Business Ethics Alliance and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics and Society at Creighton University.

The Intersection of Africa with Latin Music

September 10, 2018 by
Illustration by Derek Joy

In a previous issue, I explored how the African-American tradition deserves credit for inventing all major forms of music created in America, such as hip-hop, disco, funk, soul, jazz, rhythm and blues, blues, house, techno, and of course, rock ’n’ roll. 

What I didn’t have space to address was how Hispanic and Latin music fit into the equation. So in this column, I’m going to explore how the same evolutionary music process that took place in North America, specifically in the United States, also occurred in Central and South America.

Well, here’s how that generally worked: African people were involuntarily brought to the “New World.” Since most came from Western Africa, where the drum was the foundation of their music, their African culture mixed with whichever local culture and region in which they landed. New forms of culture and music sprouted from the interactions. 

This is how we got hip-hop, disco, funk, soul, jazz, R&B, blues, and rock. But the same thing that happened in the U.S. also happened in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Jamaica, and so on. 

But instead of funk, it was cumbia in Columbia. Instead of R&B, it was reggae in Jamaica. Instead of disco, it was samba in Brazil. 

In fact, here’s a somewhat more complete list of Latin American forms of music with an African basis: bachata, batucada, cha-cha-cha, conga, funk carioca, mambo, tango, pachanga, reggaeton, rumba, son, tropicalia, and zouk…just to name a few. 

Some folks may think of the music that came from the U.S. and Latin America as separate entities divided by geography and ethnicity. But the two are more connected than you’d think.

For example, one genre name that wasn’t in the list is salsa. Most folks think of salsa as a uniquely Latin American music form and assume it was created somewhere with warm, sunny beaches where pina coladas are served. But in fact, salsa was invented in the United States. 

Between mass migrations of Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants to New York City (especially in the 1950s when half a million Puerto Ricans came to NYC), New York had a thriving Latin music scene that centered mostly around the legendary Palladium nightclub. But between the myriad of music genres, there lacked a cohesive glue that brought it all together. 

“People were getting confused with the mambo, cha cha chá, and guaracha—so what we did was, we took the music and put it under one roof and we called it ‘salsa,’” said Johnny Pacheco.

Pacheco was one of the founding partners of Fania Records, which was a label created in 1964 “to produce, promote, and market the music of Latinos in New York,” according to PBS’s Latin Music USA documentary series. 

Fania also released a lesser-known genre called boogaloo. Perhaps the best known boogaloo song is Joe Cuba’s “Bang Bang,” which has a Latin-tinged staccato piano, Afro-Latin drums, and African American-inspired call-and-response lyrics.

“Between the years of ’66 and ’69, boogaloo became the sound of young blacks in New York,” wrote music journalist Maulud Sadiq Allah in Medium. “The 30 years of Cuban music and Black American music had finally merged and took on a life of its own.” 

Perhaps during no other time in history has the convergence of Afro-Latinos and African-Americans been so creatively infused than through boogaloo. 

Fania brought salsa and boogaloo to a commercial market, which funneled the Latin fervor in NYC into a marketable movement that was enough to sell out Yankee stadium for a Fania concert in 1973.

“The early 1970s was a political coming-of-age of Latinos across the country,” said Felix Contreras, co-host of NPR’s Alt.Latino podcast. “Fania was the soundtrack for the empowerment for many of these communities, because it was brash, it was vibrant, it was new. It embraced the Afro identity of Latin America. And it made me—a young Chicano teenager in California, just discovering music—want to be part of this exciting new sound and movement.”

So while Fania catapulted the music with origins in Puerto Rico and Cuba,  “salsa, and all the genres that informed it, is an African-based music,” according to Sadiq Allah. 

What’s the point of sharing all of this in the back of Encounter Magazine? 

Well, when we consider that nearly all major forms of music were created in the Americas as a result of the slave trade, is our society fully aware of the origins of its beloved music? And if not, what might change if everyone were made aware? My hope is that it makes you listen to music differently, and question any sense of ownership you have to a particular history of music. 

Just something to ponder the next time you hear your favorite song. 


This column is Brent’s last for now. His full life of fathering and trying to save the planet are his priorities. But rest assured, when he has something to say about Omaha’s art scene, we will give him the forum to speak. In the meantime, we will feature guest columnists from all walks of the arts and culture scene. We invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with us and look for an exciting new columnist in our upcoming November/December issue.

Food for Thought

August 5, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A couple months ago I was in Copenhagen.

No, I did not see the “Little Mermaid” statue in the harbor. I know everybody goes to photograph it when they visit the city. But I remember that this Little Mermaid is based on the Hans Christian Andersen version, not Disney’s romantic feature film.

In the original telling, the mermaid does not get to marry the prince of her dreams and live the happily ever after. Instead, the young scion is married off to a genuine princess, the daughter of a neighboring king. Yeah, turns out the fix was in even before she gave up her fins.

Her mer-sisters offer a nice, sharp knife to gut the prince—a chance to void her contractual deal with the sea witch (which had stipulated marriage to the prince or death). But instead of stabbing her beloved, the mermaid dives into the waves, turns into sea foam, and becomes a creature of the air. The prince never realizes how close he came to being assassinated.

Fairytales are often a bit darker than we choose to remember them. I mean, for accuracy’s sake, shouldn’t the poor heartbroken thing have a knife in her hand?

Whatever, I skipped the obligatory visit to the scorned gold digger’s monument. 

I was in Copenhagen for food.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel here and there around the globe, and my first goal is always food. I believe you get the best idea of what a country is all about by discovering what the natives eat.

In Italy, the Mediterranean diet rules with divine pasta, fresh vegetables, and seafood. I’ve had the best roasted lamb in Trastevere, great liver (yes, liver) on the Via Sistina, and Genoese salami to die for.

Germany is where a Midwesterner can go for comfort food. Schnitzel is basically chicken-fried steak, and potatoes and gravy are everywhere you turn. At a street fair in Cologne, one booth specialized in deep-fried bacon. I felt like I was at the Iowa State Fair.

In Hong Kong, I recommend you try the spicy chicken feet or the hairy crab. Or grab a fish from one of the tanks at the street market and hand it to the woman in the next stall who will kill it, clean it, and turn it into the freshest fish stew you’ve ever eaten.

In Japan, everything is good—everything from street vendor yakisoba to Okinawa-style soba. Everything is good except the natto. Do not eat the natto. Just don’t (unless you enjoy munching chunky booger goo).

I wish I could time travel, because (according to Reddit) archeologists recently discovered the oldest ever recipe on a tomb wall in Egypt. It’s for a soup that includes hippopotamus and sparrow, two delicacies I have never had the opportunity to try.
I suspect the dish represents our primitive ancestor’s first attempt to deal with leftovers.

So anyway, there I was in Copenhagen, skipping the unarmed Little Mermaid statue, looking for good food. And what did I find?

Well, during my short stay, I had great Italian food, some of the best sushi this side of Osaka, along with fish and chips that beat anything in London.

I even found a Neolithic restaurant serving only what our hunter-gatherer forebears might have found while walking from here to there (basically plants and prehistoric roadkill). I skipped that place.

I did try the frikadeller and rugbrød with gherkins. Meatballs and bread. It wasn’t bad.

But here’s the point of the column. If you’re in Copenhagen, try the Danish.

Which, for accuracy’s sake, should be called “Austrian.” The pastry was originally introduced to the country by Austrian bakers when their Danish counterparts went on strike in 1850. After more than a century of acceptance, the pastry has become genuinely Danish. Kind of like an American, Disneyfied version of the Little Mermaid. But more delicious, and you don’t need a knife.


Otis Twelve hosts the radio program Early Morning Classics with Otis Twelve on 90.7 KVNO, weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. Visit kvno.org for more information.

This column was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. 

Ethical Legacy Thinkers and the GDPR

July 26, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The General Data Protection Regulation is a new European Union and European Economic Area privacy regulation. It has to do with how personal information of EU subjects is processed and applies to all enterprises, even if located outside the EU, that work with the EEA. Among other things, it requires that data collectors and processors receive opt-in consent from the data’s owner; certain data breaches must be reported within 72 hours; users have a right to request a copy of the data collected; and users have a right to have their data erased under specific situations. This last right is also called “the right to be forgotten.”

When the GDPR became enforceable on May 25 it affected me. I was in Austria and I could not get access to several U.S. websites, including the Omaha World Herald. “Come on, what’s the privacy issue with our local paper?” I thought.

Talking to several business leaders when I came back to the U.S., we reflected on how the new regulation affects Omaha businesses. There were two distinct responses.

The first was, “the GDPR is interesting to know about. But our firm doesn’t have clients in the EU so it’s not a regulation that I think too much about.” I’ll call this a short-term, narrow reaction. It doesn’t indicate that the businessperson’s perspective is far, wide, and high. The conversation closed down almost immediately.

What I’ll call ethical legacy thinkers, however, consistently had a different take. Even if their firms don’t currently have EU clients, they exhibited attitudes and perspectives that left me with the thought, “I can see why they have influence and will last a long, long time.”

Ethical legacy thinkers have four attitudes in common, which were apparent in my GDPR conversations with them.

First, they exhibited curiosity, asking questions such as, “What’s the difference between opt-in and opt-out?” and “What is
personal information?”

Second, they expressed concern for long-term business impact, asking“How can we continue to satisfy our customer’s need for privacy?” and “What will the overall cost be?”

Third, these businesspeople showed a sense of the relationship between business and society, asking,“What are the social norms across communities and countries that drive different senses of privacy?” and “What is businesses’ role in maintaining these?”

Fourth, they always bring it back to their values and the core values of their firms. They asked “Why is privacy important to me?,” “How can I make sense of the right to be forgotten?,” and “How can our company use the spirit of this regulation to do what we do best—make good money through excellent customer service and respect for our customers?.”

Ethical legacy thinkers are seers. They pose big-picture questions and seek long-term impact. They know that passing on a strong moral compass and a sense of purpose is meaningful.


This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Business Ethics Alliance and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics and Society at Creighton University.

Omaha Offers a Travel-Worthy Food Experience

There are numerous reasons why visitors travel to Omaha. Some are in the city for business or a convention, while others come for an extended weekend getaway to see attractions like the zoo and museums. But there is another reason Omaha is growing in popularity—our food.

In every corner of the city, you’ll find authentic cultural culinary creations that make Omaha quite the foodie destination. You can eat pizza certified by the Italian government at Dante in West Omaha and savor a steak prepared by a James Beard Award nominee at The Grey Plume in Midtown. In North Omaha, nobody does soul food like Big Mama’s–just ask the folks at the Travel Channel. And, despite a culture of fast food, in South Omaha you’ll find the Lithuanian Bakery, where bakers take three days to make a mouth-watering old-world Napoleon torte. 

 Having restaurants that offer such unique cuisine is the cornerstone of building Omaha’s travel-worthy reputation, an equally important component is letting visitors know about our great food scene. In April of this year, Visit Omaha hosted a Foodie Blogger tour to see how many bloggers would be interested in telling Omaha’s story—25 bloggers expressed interest. Out of those 25, Visit Omaha selected four bloggers with the most impressive audience numbers and invited them to enjoy Omaha’s food scene on us. 

The bloggers traveled from Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, and Minnesota. They visited Monarch Prime and learned how the restaurant dry-ages its steaks in-house. They took a culinary class at Provisions by The Grey Plume and experienced making their own pasta. The bloggers also enjoyed samplings at half-a-dozen foodie hot spots on an Omaha culinary tour. They did not leave disappointed; each was impressed with their Omaha dining experience and now plans to share Omaha’s story with a hungry audience of more than 357,000.

 The economic impact when visitors explore Omaha’s food scene is huge. Research shows that out-of-town guests spend $304 million every year on food and drinks while visiting our city. Those dollars help keep people in our community employed. These people—from wait staffs, to chefs and their kitchen staffs, to the drivers delivering the supplies to the restaurant—all have jobs thanks, in part, to all the tourists spending their money here. 

If it has been a while since you have had an evening out, give Omaha’s food scene a try. Omaha Restaurant Week (Sept. 14-23) is a great opportunity to try a new restaurant, or a new dish at an old favorite. After all, if people are traveling from places like Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio to sample the flavor of Omaha, it’s definitely worth the trip outside your neighborhood. 


Visit omaharestaurantweek.com for details.

This letter was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.

From the Editor

July 24, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Fall, for me, is full of guilty pleasures. Back-to-school time means purchasing new pencils, pens, and notebooks. Cooler weather means cooking homemade soup and gingerbread. Halloween means gothic novels to read, gothic-inspired movies to watch, and candy to eat.

Fall also means high school football, and homecoming celebrations, for many people in the Midwest. Anthony Flott reports on several schools that have switched from traditional football helmets to Ridell Speedflex helmets, which include tracking capabilities so that coaches and trainers can detect concussions faster.

Kara Schweiss reports on homecoming celebrations around the metro, from schools where the event is mostly for the kids, to those where the event includes activities for alumni and community members. As a student at a high school in southeastern Iowa, I never thought about the term “homecoming” until my freshman year of college. My school just crowned a queen at the game and hosted a dance.

I now understand the meaning of the term “homecoming,” because I live in Glenwood, Iowa, which boasts one of the largest homecoming celebrations in America. 

A sidebar on this is included in Kara’s article, but from my standpoint, homecoming is a sight to behold.

Parade entries assemble outside my house. Parking comes at a premium—the three available spots in my driveway are reserved by Wednesday of homecoming week, and filled by 11 a.m. Friday in anticipation of the 1 p.m. parade. Dining out is a moot point, even ordering a pizza to carry out takes two hours.

Still, homecoming provides memories for many, myself included. I hope this fall edition of Family Guide conjures good memories for you.


This letter was printed in the Fall 2018 edition of Family Guide.

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman is the managing editor of Family Guide, a publication of Omaha Magazine LTD. She can be reached at daisy@omahamagazine.com.

Attracting & Retaining Talent in the Construction Industry

May 16, 2018 by

According to a 2018 survey by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Construction and Real Estate, 78 percent of construction firms report they struggle to hire qualified talent, a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Without qualified talent, companies are forced to either turn down projects or hire unqualified employees, increasing the potential for poor productivity, safety issues, turnover, and a damaged company reputation. Aside from increasing base pay, providing bonuses, and improving employee benefits, what else can firms do to attract and retain talent?

Training and Development

Growth opportunities are one of the key drivers of employee engagement. Consider providing employees with job shadowing, technical training, leadership development, mentoring, and coaching. Provide employees with clear career paths and milestones. 

In addition, consider leadership-development opportunities. Workers with strong technical skills are often promoted into leadership positions. However, leadership positions often require different skillsets, and those with good technical skills don’t always receive the necessary leadership training. Determine what competencies are necessary for leadership in your organization, evaluate workers based on these competencies, provide training, and regularly provide feedback on strengths and development opportunities. Providing leadership-development opportunities will increase retention and ensure a pool of potential leaders to pull from in the future.

Purpose

Employees need to understand the company’s vision and how their role fits into it. Provide employees with opportunities to contribute by asking for their feedback and ideas. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the weeds and lose sight of the big picture of what’s being built and why, and innovative solutions can come from many different people. Provide recognition for their contributions and achievements, and remind employees about the achievements they are contributing to every day. Consider introducing workers to those who have benefited from their projects—students, hospital patients, employees, etc. Helping your workers understand the big picture will instill in them a sense of purpose and pride.  

Reputation

Consider your company’s reputation among customers, current employees, and the community in general. People want to work for companies that have a great mission and a reputation for treating their employees well. Survey your staff and identify how the company, and its culture, is perceived. What is your company’s level of employee engagement? Identify strategies to bolster the culture, increase engagement levels, and thus enhance your company’s reputation. 

Improvement of pay and benefits are considerations for attracting and retaining qualified workers in the construction industry, but continuous learning and growth opportunities show that management is invested in professional development and long-term careers. By showing employees how their work contributes to a larger purpose and considering the company’s reputation, a company is well-poised to attract and retain talent.


This column was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B.

Lauren Weivoda, M.A., is a​ ​human​ ​capital​ ​strategist​​ at Solve Consulting LLC.