In an increasingly competitive and global job market, attracting top talent isn’t as simple as posting a “help wanted” sign in the window. Today, people aren’t willing to relocate for a job solely for great pay. Instead, most are looking for a career with a company that shares similar values and that not only allows employees to pursue their interests outside of work, but actively supports that, says Connie Stopher, executive director of the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization (SIEDO).
Stopher says that is why Southern Idaho companies such as Chobani and Clif Bar & Company have invested in creating a corporate culture that says that they care about their employees, the community and the company’s overall impact. Chobani, the Greek yogurt maker that built the world's largest yogurt plant in Twin Falls, recently implemented 100-percent-paid, six-week parental leave. Both parents can use the leave for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a new child. That’s in addition to a competitive package of benefits that includes profit sharing for full-time employees.
“Similarly, Clif Bar also has a long list of benefits that goes above what typical companies do and that really speaks to Clif Bar’s values and culture,” Stopher says. “Some of these benefits include an on-site gym, cash incentives for the purchase of green home upgrades and vehicles, carpooling and more.”
Clif Bar, which manufactures organic energy bars, opened a 300,000-square-foot bakery in Twin Falls in 2016. The $90 million facility is one of the first manufacturing plants in the country to intentionally use a biophilic design to allow workers to connect with nature. In addition to more than 200 windows and vaulted ceilings, images of nature scenes are projected on windowless walls to bring the outside in. The company, which values health and fitness and a balanced home-work life, also offers such benefits as stipends for athletic competitions and reimbursement for National Park fees.
“We’re a community of foodies, athletes, parents and adventurers connected by shared passions and a mission of creating a healthier, more just and sustainable food system. We’re a family- and employee-owned company that takes a holistic approach to well-being and allows for our people to choose their ‘love-tos,’ not their ‘have-tos,’” says Dean Mayer, communications manager of Clif Bar & Company. “Every day, we aim to inspire our people to lead a healthy and energized life inside and outside of work, because we know that healthy, inspired people create delicious, nutritious food.”
People Over Profits
While Mayer acknowledges that such competitive benefits help the company attract top talent, he says the reasons behind it have more to do with people than profits.
“We are a different kind of company because instead of one bottom line, we have five. We call these our five aspirations, and measure our success based on meeting annual goals for each of them,” he says. “The five aspirations are built around sustainability — specifically, sustaining our business, brands, community, people and the planet. We believe in creating a workplace people enjoy and feel supported in. Investing in benefits to help sustain our people — and sustain the other four aspirations — certainly contributes to us being a preferred employer in the Magic Valley, enhancing both employee recruitment and retention. A passionate, happy and cared-for workforce brings that energy and approach to their jobs and customers. In turn, that positively impacts the bottom line.”
Follow the Leaders
Stopher says Clif Bar and Chobani are setting a positive precedent, and more regional companies are following their lead, creating a business culture that is attractive to talent, particularly millennials. Add to that Southern Idaho’s enviable quality-of-life amenities, and the region becomes a preferred relocation destination.
“The Twin Falls region has a unique balance of being a place where you can leave work and be kayaking the river, skiing or biking in the hills within 15 minutes and still being large enough to have all the amenities you need in a community,” she says. “For people who are looking for a community that is safe, with easy access to just about every outdoor activity you can think of, that’s affordable with a short — basically non-existent — commute time, Southern Idaho is the perfect place.”