Creative solutions needed to keep workforce in the Corridor

As a CBJ subscriber and 25-year local HR professional, I wanted to reach out to you regarding Toyota’s decision to leave our community, and the comments made in the March 29 CBJ editorial.  While I expect a community like ours to rally around a cause, like we always do, I think assumptions are made and other considerations are overlooked. And for those reasons, oftentimes the efforts don’t reach the outcomes desired.

Let’s start with the fact that roughly 600 people have decisions to make. One cannot assume that just because a Toyota employee works in financial services, they’d like to stay in the same industry. It’s also not safe to assume that someone who does collections for their job (as an example) wants to remain in collections. I’ve worked with many people who see job loss as a time to change careers, start an entrepreneurial endeavor, or maybe try on retirement. I’ve also worked with individuals who can retire from an organization but then decide to go the encore or second-act career route.

As a career transition service provider (relocation support, outplacement and retiring with purpose) my team and I have worked with hundreds of people in the Corridor who find themselves in these exact situations. The ability to move toward what’s next is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Most importantly, let’s not forget the human side of job loss which can create other perceived or self-imposed barriers to employment. Fear is a real thing.  Fear of failure, loss of identity, purpose, income, routine. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t hear about the need to upskill, address ageism, discrimination, mental illness and the effects of isolation. How do these issues impact one’s career path? Job searching in and of itself can be a roller coaster of emotion.

The efforts of our community always make me proud to live here, raise my family here, make friends here. But we cannot be all things to all people. If the organizations who employ people here do not see the value in providing career transition services to our local workforce, then all the considerations mentioned – as well as the sheer loss of jobs – will leave us. And in this case, I am referring to local career and job search experts who know our community, its employers and the way forward.

It is clear that Toyota has reached out to various stakeholders in the community for support. However, many employers who are concerned about compassionate offboarding consider the above-mentioned points and take a broader, employee-focused approach that goes beyond a web portal or services that steer employees in a specific direction. Lengthy working notices can be difficult to navigate and can go so much more smoothly if they work with experts who do this kind of work.

We all want to keep our workforce here, but it takes creative solutions to help people on an individual basis. Maybe then, the desired outcomes would be different.

Jennifer Lawrence, owner, PHR, SHRM-CP, CorridorHRSolutions,