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How to Attract a Skilled Workforce: The Quality of Life Competitive Advantage

September 10, 2014

How can a company attract, develop and sustain a highly-skilled workforce?  That’s the million dollar question.

Not surprisingly, when considering relocation, expansion or site selection for facilities, executives reported that skilled labor is the most important factor, according to Area Development Magazine’s 28th  annual survey of corporate executives released earlier this year. The magazine goes on to suggest that in the coming years, what will be increasingly important for companies of high growth potential looking to attract, develop and sustain this skilled workforce is quality of place.

As the economy improves, skilled workers are becoming more mobile with more opportunities to choose locations with a desirable quality of life to live and work. Companies actively competing to win these skilled workers are giving more consideration to life outside the workplace as means to make the companies themselves more desirable.

A happy life outside the workplace is important to initially attract this workforce of the future, but the payoff continues with returns on productivity and creativity in the workplace. Popular topics of discussion and research among many of today’s leading economists and psychologists are the relationships between happiness, productivity, creativity and success. Tuning into the TED conference’s “Work Smarter” playlist illuminates some of the findings about these relationships with profitable applications for business leaders.

Selecting the right location should not be overlooked as one of many ways to help employees lead satisfying professional and personal lives. There are many organizational  factors that help create conditions for a happy and productive team, such as giving employees enough time off—and encouraging them to take it—or offering a wellness program to encourage exercise. It’s not a far leap to suggest that the right location might make it easier to act on these small but highly effective changes in the workplace.  

For example, taking a vacation is found to be a driver of productivity, so living within a day’s drive to the mountains or beach or having access to a nearby airport or interstate removes any location barrier to enjoying the ever-important vacation, especially for those a budget. Additionally,  research suggests that physical activity and spending time outdoors improves brain health that is vital for memory, concentration and mental sharpness. Engaging in these activities is arguably more convenient in places with a favorable climate and an abundance of recreational opportunities (which are of increasing importance to executives, according the same Area Development survey).

So, with all of this in mind, here are just a few highlights that business leaders should know about quality of life in the Upstate: 

  • Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Upstate residents have convenient access to a myriad of outdoor activities including hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking, campgrounds and waterfalls.
  • The Upstate is home to several beautiful lakes, including Lake Jocassee and Jocassee Gorges, recognized as one of the “50 of the World’s Last Great Places” in National Geographic.
  • The Upstate has a pleasant, moderate climate with four distinct seasons.
  • Upstate residents have the Greenville Spartanburg International Airport for domestic and international travel. Fares for Greenville Spartanburg International Airport are lower than the national average and lower than the rates at neighboring Charlotte and Atlanta airports.
  • Upstate residents have easy access to popular cities like Charlotte and Atlanta by way of 1-85.
  • The Upstate is also only a three hour drive from Charleston, S.C., which was ranked the #1 city in the United States in Condé Nast’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the third consecutive year.
  • For years South Carolina has registered a lower cost of living compared to the national average by about 10 %. This map by the Tax Foundation and shared in Forbes estimates that $100 buys $110.25 in value of goods in South Carolina.
  • The Upstate’s biggest city, Greenville, S.C., has seen some impressive rankings in recent years, such as:

    • Inclusion in Forbes list of top Ten Transformed Neighborhoods, 2013
    • Named America’s 2nd Best Town Ever-Popular Vote Winner in Outside Magazine, 2013
    • Named “The Next Big Food City of the South?” in Esquire Magazine, 2013
    • Greenville’s Falls Park on the Reedy named 9th Best Park in the US on TripAdvisor, 2013

For more information on quality of life in the Upstate, visit https://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate/information-downloads#lifestyle.

TOPICS: Skilled Workforce, Upstate Thoughts, News You Can Use