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How Do Twin Cities Businesses Keep Transplanted Talent In Town?

Suggestions for companies recruiting beyond the Upper Midwest.

How Do Twin Cities Businesses Keep Transplanted Talent In Town?

The Twin Cities metro area is home to many of the country’s largest businesses and tops many lists of the best places to start a career. But local companies have a hard time attracting and retaining transplanted talent. Why? When transplants say, “It’s too cold,” they’re talking about more than the weather.

Two human resource professionals at the University of Minnesota, Corey Bonnema and Jerilyn Veldof, decided to decode typical Minnesota Nice behaviors: passive-aggressiveness, aversion to conflict and surface niceness, to name a few. This you’ve heard before. But their relevance to the workplace is what’s groundbreaking about the study.

3 suggestions for companies recruiting beyond the Upper Midwest

  • Have an onboarding process. Veldof, a New Jersey native, notes that for many, moving to Minnesota is akin to moving to a foreign country. “What’s so disarming is you don’t expect it to be that different,” she explains. Getting employees involved in professional groups or assigning a mentor within the company will help them integrate fully into the workforce.
  • Create a safe environment for criticism. Minnesotans tend to give feedback in what Bonnema calls a “sandwich”—criticism slipped in amid praise—which leaves workers to infer the takeaway. Transplants tend to give candid criticism, which often comes off as harsh to locals. Fostering an open dialogue where feedback and opinions are freely shared—and asked for—will prevent mixed messages and hurt feelings.
  • Be patient. Often, a non-native will be brought into a company specifically to shake things up. “They’re really good at change—but they’re too direct,” says Bonnema. Finding equilibrium between effecting change and placating Midwestern social norms can make all the difference in company operations. Understanding that there will be an adjustment period for both parties is key.
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