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Top Five for Small Business Strategies to Recruit + Retain Talent Panelist Questions

Top Five Panel

The following is an overview of questions that Top Five panelists discussed in-depth at this even on Wednesday, June 28.

Top Five Q+A

Why is talent attraction and retention important to you and what experience do you have within the talent attraction and retention space?

Lori Gelhaar: My role as the COO is to design and implement policies that promote company culture and vision while overseeing the overall operation. Our employee retention is a direct result of doing that well.

My background has been in recruiting and leadership. Over the years, I have watched so many companies struggle trying to recruit and retain employees. I have watched them suffer through the direct negative impacts of not making it a focus. I have watched them blame it on generational differences, less investment of time and resources and continue to make excuses. It’s hard to watch.

Until a company decides to commit to a continued focus in this area, they will continue to be impacted by the indirect costs and negative results.

Outhay Lovan: Talent attraction is all about the candidate's experience. It’s a war on talent and experiences that should include key initiatives from marketing campaigns to onboarding strategies.

Drew Harden: At Blue Compass, attracting and retaining top talent is essential because we desire to build an incredible team comprised of positive, trusting relationships. If we can create a fun, supportive company culture that people don’t want to leave, strong relationships will follow.

Team members who have good relationships are more likely to go out of their way for each other, enjoy their work and celebrate the successes of others.

As CEO & Founder of Blue Compass, I’ve been actively involved in creating a culture that attracts and retains talent for 16 years.

Why is talent attraction and retention an important conversation to have now?

LG: It’s hard to ignore the true costs of employee turnover. The financial burden to a company's bottom line can be significant. Research suggests that replacement costs can be as high as 50%-60% with overall costs ranging anywhere from 90%-200%.

Also, the economy is still rocky. Studies show that employee engagement has dipped noticeably in the past year. This figure raises some alarms among companies who have struggled with retention due to the pandemic, mass layoffs, resignations and economic uncertainties.

OL: The average tenure employee is two years. Organizations should keep up with strategies to continuously attract talent, collect feedback during offboarding stages and ask the question, is this the new norm with the next and rising generation?

DH: This topic is more important than ever because job hopping has become common. The average amount of time a person in the US stays at a job is about 4.1 years, and only 3.2 years for younger workers ages 25 to 34.

What are the current talent retention and attraction struggles that you believe businesses are facing?


  • Establishing Trust. I feel businesses struggle to gain the trust of their employees. Trust is built through authentic communication on vision, goals, performance metrics, successes, concerns, obstacles, etc.
  • Lack of Engagement. Companies can get so focused on the bottom line and getting that service completed or the product created. How do you meet the demands of your clients and customers yet have time to focus on employee engagement? It doesn’t happen unless you make it happen.
  • Wrong fit. Wrong people, right seat or right people, wrong seat. This is critical. So many companies fall into the fast to hire, slow to fire.
  • Lack of Awareness. It’s easy to not want to see an issue. As leaders, we all have been there where we know something is wrong, but we don’t ask or investigate. The problem is … it won’t go away.

OL: Generation gap. You have different generations coexisting — from those that grew up with the traditional work perspective to the next and rising generation that craves flexibility.

DH: The workforce has changed significantly over the last few decades. As the generations of workers have changed, so have their preferences. What people value in the workplace has changed. We want more from our jobs today than we ever have before.

Years ago, our jobs were just a part of our lives. We spent more time socializing with friends and neighbors outside of work. We gained our sense of purpose from family and church. When we left work, we left work. We weren’t constantly connected.

Today, work has become our place to socialize, our source of therapy and our source of purpose. Our jobs are our identities. We’re constantly connected to our work. Unfortunately, we’ve lost many of the positive traditions and institutions that have provided the purpose and balance we so desperately need.

Additionally, we now live in an Instagram/TikTok/LinkedIn world where every company’s culture looks better than yours. Why? Because social media rarely reflects reality and only portrays the best.

All this puts a much greater strain on employers today.

Why would you encourage other professionals to attend this Top Five event?

LG: You have local experts who have experience and expertise sharing strategies and tactics that can be implemented immediately.

OL: Knowledge is power! We may not have all the answers, however, it is dialog and collaboration from different lenses.

DH: Creating a culture that attracts and retains great people isn’t easy. It takes hours, days, months and even years of purposeful planning and effort. Additionally, once a positive work environment is attained, your work doesn’t end. It must be continually maintained.

Critics may ask, “Why spend all the time and effort on culture? Wouldn’t that be better spent on something more tangible like boosting sales, improving operations, building client relations or increasing quality?”

The answer is simple: you spend all that time and effort because the quality of your culture affects everything! Your culture significantly influences your sales, operations, client relationships and quality of services and products. A great work environment makes everything better by blessing your most important resource: your people.

What is one thing that you hope people take away from this panel discussion?

LG: Don’t be afraid to ask your employees what they like and dislike at your company. Be open to feedback, be flexible with your policies and don’t be afraid to adapt.

OL: One outlook from a different perspective.

DH: I hope people will leave the discussion with the realization that every organization has its struggles; no workplace is perfect. The truth is that you can’t have a perfect workplace. That doesn’t exist.

But you can experience a better culture that attracts and retains great people. You can create a joyful workplace where team members experience incredible connections, appreciation and growth. You can develop a work environment that rejects drama and gossip. It simply takes a plan, commitment and work.

Register now for this Top Five series event on Wednesday, June 28 at 9 a.m.

Lori Gelhaar

Lori Gelhaar is COO at Bing Bang Media, helping brands create content and develop strategy to grow their business.

Outhay Lovan

Outhay Lovan is Chief Strategy Officer at VizyPay.

Drew Harden

Drew Harden is CEO & Founder of Blue Compass.

For more information on the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Top Five series, visit the Business Resources page. While there, be sure to register for the next Top Five series.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 400 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.