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Navigating the New Era of Employee Engagement — Everything You Need to Know

Employee engagement is always important to keep a business running smoothly and successfully. In the time of The Great Resignation and “quiet quitting,” leaders must get creative. More attention must be paid to employee needs from pay to overall quality of life.

READ: 6 Ways to Find New Employees During the “Great Resignation”

Workplace health

Your job can impact your mental health and physical well-being. Employees are increasingly taking notice of how they feel at a job and factoring burnout and lack of support into their decisions to work elsewhere. The health of employees is vital from an ethical standpoint but also in order to preserve efficiency and productivity. If your staff is hurting, physically or emotionally, so will your bottom line.

Employee burnout results from putting too much pressure on employees and not providing enough engaging activities. Leaders should focus on integrating staff into the workplace culture and putting their health first. Productivity will follow inherently. For example, Colorado tech company, SumUp, emphasizes team events and has seen a shift in overall business success from doing so.

More employees work from home now than ever. In fact, Denver has the 12th largest remote workforce in the nation, when considering cities with 300,000 people or more. The number of people who work from home in Colorado jumped from 9% to 24% remote employees from 2019 to 2021. This is a massive change, and leaders should be aware of how this impacts employee health and engagement. 

For instance, working from home can exacerbate chronic pain from spending long hours at less-than-comfortable desks. Providing ergonomic home office accessories can help your employees live a healthier lifestyle while still being able to work remotely. This could include standing desks, ergonomic office chairs, or even blue light glasses that prevent eye strain. 

READ: Managing a Remote Work Team with Communication and Ease

Along the same vein, team events may need to be remote, but they should be plentiful, optional and engaging. Employees should want to come to work every day. Otherwise, they simply won’t — whether that’s physically or mentally.

Increased flexibility and transparency

When it’s tougher to get employees to “show up,” leaders have a responsibility to incentivize them to do so. Put your focus on the quality of life at work to inspire confidence in your company and workforce. One of the best ways to increase employee satisfaction and engagement is to trust them — and to encourage them to trust you.

Giving employees the autonomy to choose when and how they work can do wonders for your engagement rate. Adopt a more flexible schedule and don’t micromanage employees by tracking their every keystroke. You’ll be surprised how a little wiggle room encourages them to work more often and efficiently. And when they do, recognize their efforts companywide. 

Perhaps more importantly, treat employees as part of the team. This may seem obvious, but people value transparency in the workplace. Rather than being blindsided by layoffs or company policy changes, keep your workforce in the loop as much as possible. Some things are on a need-to-know basis, but be as transparent as you can as quickly as you can, and employees will respond positively.

Fair wages and benefits

This new wave of employees also expects to be rewarded fairly for their hard work. Only 32% of the current workforce believe their pay is fair. You can stand out from the competition by adhering to these expectations.

Pay staff as much as you can, because they are likely to shop around for a better offer somewhere else if they feel under-compensated. The internet has provided job seekers — and current employees — the opportunity to see how other employees are being paid within their industry. Make sure to offer as much as you can to show staff that you value their time and expertise.

This also includes benefits. Ping-pong tables and nap pods may look inviting when recruiting initially. However, long-term employees value tangible, useful benefits at the end of the day. Think about your unique workforce and what would benefit them the most. That can include stellar health insurance, a free gym membership or even flexible maternity and paternity leave policies.

READ: 5 Tips for Building a Strong Company Culture in a Hybrid Work Environment

Putting employees first

Above all, put your employees first. This seems cliche, but it takes a strong head and a big heart to lead in this new era of employee engagement. Ask for feedback, optimize your engagement strategies and constantly communicate in order to meet the unique needs of your staff. Your bottom line and engagement rates will thank you.


Indiana Lee Bio PictureIndiana Lee is a writer, reader, and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest. An expert on business operations, leadership, marketing, and lifestyle, you can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Top Insights in the Colorado Job Market — A Look Back at 2022

2022 has been a spectacular year for the Colorado job market (at least from the viewpoint of the job seeker), with a reported nearly twice as many job openings as there as job seekers, giving people across the country yet another reason to move to the great state, home of the Rockies.

If you’ve been contemplating a move to Colorado, or if you currently live in Colorado and are considering making a career change, now is an excellent time to do so. Companies in Denver, such as Wells Fargo, AT&T, and Amazon, are hiring. From tech to finance, retail, and the healthcare industry, opportunities abound in Colorado.

In this short article, we’ll take a look at the Colorado job market and the projections going into next year.

READ — How to Successfully Recruit Talent Today

Why Are There so Many Jobs?

The labor shortage (or abundance of work opportunities, depending on how you see it) is not unique to Colorado. Although the Colorado job market has been experiencing a greater number of job openings remaining unfilled, this phenomenon is being recorded all across the country.

Several factors are contributing to the high number of job openings compared to the number of job seekers:

Post-Covid Shake-Up

During the economic turmoil that was the Covid-19 pandemic and consequential lockdowns, many workers were either laid off or switched to remote work. Following the pandemic, as many companies went back to full strength, there has been a rush to try and fill the many open positions. However, a significant number of workers have taken to their new status as under-employer or freelance and are choosing not to return to the workforce.

The Great Resignation

Starting from the spring of 2021, we have seen a record number of workers voluntarily leave their jobs in what industry experts have coined The Great Resignation.

READ — The Great Resignation’s Untapped Talent: The Autism Community

High GDP and Economic Growth

In contrast to many of the states in the Union, Colorado has been experiencing economic growth. This, in turn, has led to businesses either moving to Colorado or increasing their investments in the region.

The Public Sector

The labor shortage has hit both the public and the private sector hard. Private sector jobs, such as with the Department of Corrections, have proven tough to fill. In fact, the Colorado Sun reports that the Department of Corrections has had to scale back on vaccine mandates in order to try to fill job openings. As of September 2022, they still have nearly 1,700 jobs to fill.

The public sector job board, State of Colorado Job Opportunities, has openings in pretty much all areas of public service: law enforcement, education, and athletic associations, to name a few.

In addition to an increase in the number of public sector jobs available, we are seeing restrictions being lifted (such as vaccine mandates) and an increase in the compensation offered.

The Private Sector

In August of 2022, unemployment went up in 32 states. However, in Colorado, unemployment rose by only .1%, a significantly lower rise than in other states in the union. And over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate in Colorado has fallen by almost 2 percentage points. Colorado now ranks as the state with the 2nd highest worker participation rate in the country. 

Over the past 12 months, nearly 107,000 jobs have been added in the private sector alone.

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Graph provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and taken from this site.

The private sector industries that have recorded the greatest amount of job growth include manufacturing (no doubt as a consequence of government initiatives to help American-made products), transportation, construction and engineering, and utilities, with health and education not far behind.

In addition to more jobs being added to the market, we are seeing an increase in compensation and a decrease in restrictions (such as vaccine mandates which have largely been lifted). This is due mainly to the fact that companies are scrambling to fill positions in the midst of an unprecedented labor shortage.

The Salary Transparency Law

In an effort to combat wage inequally between male and female members of the workforce, Colorado enacted the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. This act went into effect in January 2021. The law requires all companies state-wide to disclose salary ranges in their job offers. The law also requires companies to perform regular pay audits and keep detailed accounts

The law aims to reduce – if not eliminate – wage discrimination through actionable measures in transparency and accountability.

The Bottom Line

While many states in the union are showing signs of economic downturn, the Colorado job market is particularly favorable for job seekers. There are twice as many job openings as there are people looking for work. Across both the public and the private sectors, we are seeing companies and institutions raise compensation and decrease restrictions in an effort to combat the labor shortage. Additionally, a new law went into effect in 2021 to help prevent wage discrimination through transparency and accountability.


Russell RidgewayRussell Ridgeway is an American writer based in Budapest, Hungary. He writes in business, tech, and fashion, as well as creative fiction. You can reach him by email ([email protected]), or on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

How to Engage and Win Today’s Top Candidates

Top Talent never has to worry about finding a job. Every employer wants the best. And today, even the majority of employed people are looking or are at least open to new opportunities for higher pay or better working conditions. The truth is that most candidates still consider, searching for a job, one of the most stressful experiences in their lives.

Candidate engagement amounts to the sum of all the critical “little” things you do throughout the hiring process — the ones that make people feel valued and respected and enable you to successfully compete for their talent.

Despite all the talk about the Great Resignation, most people want to work, but not just for any company. They want to work for the right kind of company. A definition that has dramatically changed in recent years.

It seems everything related to work is challenging and uncertain these days, making it difficult for any employer to feel in control. Don’t revert to past practices — my advice is, to lean into those things you can control. One of them is how you go about engaging with candidates. Put your focus where it matters most, on attracting (and retaining) the right people.

Despite all the talk about the Great Resignation, most people want to work, but not just for any company. They want to work for the right kind of company.

Here are the essentials for successful candidate engagement:

Positive employer brand. You cannot control how your employees describe you, nor can you hide the impressions you make on vendors and customers. This means you can’t just say who you are as an organization, you have to be it. A strong employment brand clearly communicates your workplace culture, mission, and values. It gives potential candidates a compelling reason to consider you as their next employer, and a reason for current employees to stay.

Watching trends and expectations. Today’s candidates have moved from having to accept whatever employers used to mandate, to demanding more humane environments. They want cultures based on empathy, flexibility, purpose, safety, work/life balance, transparency, inclusiveness, and fairness. Trends are leaning toward remote and hybrid work, well-being, and personal accommodation. Pay attention to them.

Personalize the experience. While there is a definite trend toward automation in recruiting, the human touch is still powerful and important, and increasingly valued by candidates looking for human-centered workplaces. Develop relationships with candidates in over 10-12 touchpoints. Send those cards and letters!

Communicate effectively. There are many ways to communicate with candidates; find the right balance of timeliness and relevancy for individual candidates so you don’t risk turning them off by not keeping them updated.

Trends are leaning toward remote and hybrid work, well-being, and personal accommodation. Pay attention to them.

Lead with empathy. Empathy requires a willingness to take yourself off center stage, be vulnerable, and not judge. Empathy is now considered by many to be the most important trait of the best leaders. Make candidates aware that in your organization, you dare to care about your people, creating the kind of human-centric culture candidates and employees everywhere are looking for. Don’t just say what you aspire to be as an organization, you have to actually be it.

Talk in stories. Storytelling is the best way to get to the truth. When both organization and candidate are putting only their best foot forward, they forget that it takes two feet to get where they want to go. By inserting storytelling into the interview process, you elicit greater authenticity, make stronger connection, and are the one who is remembered. Storytelling should not replace your normal interview questions and assessments; but it helps you look beyond skills and experience, to attitude and cultural fit. It gives you a broader and deeper look at each other, leading to better, more lasting employment decisions.

Streamline recruitment. If your hiring process stretches on for too long, you risk losing candidates to a competitor who acts more quickly. Ensure that your process is speedy and highly responsive, and that there are no roadblocks for hiring managers.


Consider your hiring practices and processes both thoughtfully and strategically. You’ll never have trouble engaging top candidates if you remember that everything about your business begins with people, not profits.


Kathleen Quinn VotawKathleen Quinn Votaw is Founder/CEO and Speaker/Author of TalenTrust and KQV Speaks. Her first book, Solve the People Puzzle: How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, debuted in February 2016; with the second book, Dare to Care in the Workplace: A Guide to the New Way We Work and related Podcast launched between 2021-2022.
Kathleen and her firm have achieved many recognitions from many well-known organizations, including ColoradoBiz Magazine, Vistage Worldwide, and the coveted Inc. 5000 for two consecutive years. Kathleen is a regularly published columnist and popular speaker on topics related to HR strategies and workplace culture. Reach Kathleen at [email protected] or (303) 838-3334.

High Country Conundrum

The ability to work from anywhere and a shift by property owners to rent short-term rather than long-term has made it so difficult for people in mountain towns to secure housing that businesses in those communities are having a tough time finding employees.

Retailers, restaurants and other businesses are restricting their hours and even closing their doors completely several days a week because they can’t find enough people to serve their customers.

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The problem puts resort towns in jeopardy of providing substandard services to the tourists who are the lifeblood of Colorado’s economy — if they stop coming to the state because they’ve had a bad experience, it could be tough to get them back.

“If you go into any resort community and walk down Main Street, you’ll see a huge number of help-wanted signs,” said Margaret Bowes, executive director of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns. “It’s hard to find any employer — whether it’s a resort or local government or a retail shop or restaurant — that isn’t looking for employees. It all comes down to housing.”

Employers may receive dozens of applications from potential workers, but the number gets whittled down quickly when they ask applicants whether they’ve secured housing. Not only is housing unavailable in the towns were employees work, it’s also difficult to find in the so-called bedroom communities.

“Escalating real estate values are making so prices are so high that it’s just unattainable for many people working locally,” Bowes said. “When a starter home is approaching $1 million, it’s hard to get into the real estate market.”

What’s come to be known as the Great Resignation — dissatisfied workers quitting their jobs — coupled with baby boomers aging out of the workforce also is impacting the ability of businesses to hire workers. The restrictions on hiring immigrants is just another factor adding to the conundrum.


“We’ve relied on a lot of immigrants covering a lot of really hard work that it’s hard to find locals to do,” said Jon Stavney, director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, an association run by leaders of six counties and 30 towns. “We continue to not have a plan related to economic development and immigration. We treat it as a cultural issue. We don’t have meat-packing plants in the high country, but we do have the construction industry and hospitality that isn’t always glamorous and front-facing. We are not settled nationally about immigration and our need for it, and it hurts.”

Sue Stillwell, office manager of excavation business Stan Miller Inc., said the company is probably short 10 people because of the housing shortage — and Stan Miller pays well.

“It’s definitely a problem with new people coming to the area,” she said. “We’ll put an ad in the paper nationwide and have people who really want to live in Breckenridge, and then they get here and can’t find a place.”


Many other employers are in the same boat. Advertisements in the Summit Daily News for Summit Stage shuttle drivers offer applicants a $1,000 signing bonus; wages starting at $23.93 per hour; paid training and a $250 end-of-training bonus; year-round bonus opportunities up to $1,200 per year; and benefits including health insurance, vision, dental and retirement.

Stillwell, who owns a home in Fairplay and rents an apartment in Breckenridge to be closer to her office, keeps an eye on the Summit County real estate just in case there’s an opportunity to purchase something at a reasonable price. She recently saw a listing for a 1,073-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home built in 1994 in Frisco for $889,000.

“The HOA dues are astronomical — they’re $474 a month,” she said.

“Escalating real estate values are making so prices are so high that it’s just unattainable for many people working locally.” -Margaret Bowes, executive director of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns


Lack of workers resulting from escalating real estate prices has most mountain communities trying figure out how to balance the need for housing for local employees and the desire of people with second homes in the mountains to rent them out on a short-term basis.

The potential solutions are all over the board, and many jurisdictions asked voters to weigh in by answering ballot questions during the November 2021 election. In Avon, for example, voters overwhelmingly approved a 2 percent short-term retail tax to fund community housing. While voters in Telluride rejected capping short-term rental licenses at 400, which would have cut the number in half, they approved capping the licenses at the current level for two years and doubling license fees, which are dedicated to an affordable housing fund.

“There are a lot of different approaches,” Bowes said. “We’re not going to be able to build our way out of this — there just isn’t the available land owned by the local governments to build workforce housing.”

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While there was much speculation that the increased crowds, parking impacts and other effects of having more people that normal in mountain communities was a result of part-time owners occupying their homes during the pandemic, “The Mountain Migration Report” from the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments examining the impacts of COVID on housing and services found that the population surge and crowds were instead caused by:

  • Newcomers moving in and either buying or renting
  • Growth in demand for and use of homes for a month or a season
  • Visitors who stayed in lodging, short- and mid-term rentals or camped in the backcountry
  • Residents and visitors alike staying for consistent and longer stretches, rather than only visiting the mountains on weekends and holidays
  • Year-round residents traveling out of the area less frequently during COVID
  • Day trippers and drive-in traffic seeking relief from COVID isolation
  • Part-time residents occupying their homes full time

“We have had an influx of newcomers that have had a significant impact on our housing market — both rental and ownership,” Stavney said. “Many are working while they’re visiting and are here for longer than the average visitor.”


And because those people are able to work jobs based in other locations remotely, their income isn’t tied to the mountain economy. They also tend to make more money than mountain locals, who on average make less than $150,000 per year.

All of this combines to make it nearly impossible for people who are employed in a resort town to live in the same community in which they work as home prices reached record highs and rents increased 20 percent to 40 percent in just one year, according to the report.

“Availability of homes for rent and purchase plummeted to critical levels in many communities,” the report states. “Newcomers with significantly higher incomes than year-round residents more often won the competition for scarce housing units.”