News & Views

The Top Talent Trends EDOs Need to Know This Year

The story: The U.S. workforce is continuing to change the way it lives and works, creating new challenges and opportunities for companies and cities trying to attract and retain talent.

With the talent landscape quickly changing, you might not be able to keep up… so we did. Here are the top trend stories from 2019 so far:


Where is everyone going?

In a major plot twist, research reveals that talent is beginning to move from large (often coastal) cities to smaller metros offering sun and affordability. Census figures released in September indicate that large cities in the U.S. lost tens of thousands of millennial and Gen Z residents in 2018, the fourth consecutive year that big metros saw their population of young adults shrink. To put it in perspective, New York City lost 100,000 residents, or 277 people per day. Major metros Los Angeles and Chicago didn’t fare well either, losing 201 and 161 residents per day respectively.

After years of attracting high-income companies along with young, highly educated workers, America’s largest metros are becoming more and more unaffordable. As a result, people are heading to more affordable locations with increased buying power like the major Texas metros – Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin – as well as Phoenix and Las Vegas. These cheaper cities are a major draw for remote and freelance workers, who don’t necessarily benefit from the deep investments that companies make in the areas they are based.


So how are companies keeping up?

Companies across the U.S. have launched programs offering potential and current talent interesting benefits as well as more opportunities to advance within the company. With workplaces evolving across the country to attract and retain talent, companies must innovate – for example, offering more flexible work styles like remote work and freelancing, giving employees the freedom to work where they want, when they want. Companies that refuse to adopt these new workplace trends will struggle to appeal to the younger workforce, missing out on top (though non-traditional) talent.

Reskilling and upskilling also gives employees the opportunity to change and/or advance their careers while remaining at the same company. This approach is growing in popularity with almost three-quarters of companies – including  big names like PwC, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase – offering in-house job development programs to advance employees in their careers while also filling gaps in their own workforces. Not only are these changes a draw to retain talent, but also necessary as the workplace becomes increasingly digitized and advantageous to those fluent in new technologies.


Seems like a good opportunity for smaller metros and more rural communities…

It definitely isrural communities and smaller metros are capitalizing on the U.S. workforce’s new priorities with unique initiatives to lure talent. In June, Iowa launched a stunt showing New Yorkers how much further their dollars go in Iowa when it comes to real estate. Unsurprisingly, New Yorkers were blown away by the property prices and amenities.

Perhaps the most famed talent initiatives are relocation programs offering thousands of dollars to flexible and remote workers in exchange for moving to their communities. Tulsa, Oklahoma, launched their Tulsa Remote program in 2018, offering remote workers $10,000 to move to the city for a year of subsidized living. The program also provides free co-working spaces and other perks. Similarly, the state of Vermont’s Remote Worker Grant program offers reimbursement grants of up to $5,000 per year ($10,000 over two years) to remote workers who move to Vermont. Expenses eligible for reimbursement include relocation costs, computer hardware and software, broadband access or upgrades and membership to a co-working (or similar) space.

Vermont is also home to the innovative Stay to Stay Weekend, an out-of-the-box initiative aimed at turning the state’s 13 million annual tourists into full-time residents. The program offers participants the opportunity to meet with local employers, community leaders, young professionals, entrepreneurs, real estate agents and others to “test drive” living in the state, while still experiencing Vermont as a desirable tourism destination.

While some might question using incentives for talent, the results are clear – talent is not only taking advantage, but loving their new home. These innovative programs also shine a national spotlight on the host city or state and (with the help of DCI) have landed stories in major publications like CNBC, Quartz, Fast Company and more.

For additional info on America’s workforce trends, check out our 2019 Talent Wars report here.

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