When it comes to thinking locally, it doesn’t only mean buying from local vendors or hosting a farmer’s market in your parking lot. You can also think locally when building your team or increasing employee engagement.

Welcome packages

Hiring someone from outside of the area? You can make their experience feel “local” by giving them a welcome package to the area. Include items like local restaurants or take out menus, local dry cleaner fliers, local grocery store ads, local publications that will make them feel right at home from the start.

Will they be looking for a home to purchase? Relators are wonderful resources when it comes to knowing the different neighborhoods in the area. Partnering with your local Chamber of Commerce is another way to gather information for an employee that is new to the area.

From a professional aspect, are there local professional conferences you can make them aware of or have them attend? These are great networking events and can make people feel more in tune with the local professional community.

Just think of the engagement opportunity for that employee right from the start if you are welcoming them into the community and making them feel comfortable. A little can go a long way and in turn will help local businesses.


Your team knows firsthand what it is like to work at your company and in many cases will know who will be the best fit. Having a successful referral program often can be a good indicator of employee engagement. If your team is not shouting from the rooftops about how much they like working there, they aren’t going to be telling their friends, family and others they should join the team.

Not only will you get a good feel for engagement, but it can assist in reducing turnover since those that refer tend to stick around if their friends are hired and they are actively engaged.

By asking your team to refer others to work at your company, most times they will be local candidates, which further enhances the feel of recruiting locally. This can give your team a family-type atmosphere where many people know each other from a variety of connections.

Encouraging your team to recruit when they are out and about around town will influence that local feel as well. Creating business cards that include a hiring message on them is a simple way to make referrals easier for your team to act upon.

Community service

A question that is at the top of many recent graduates minds is, “What is the company doing for the community and the environment?” Are you prepared to answer that? Participating in United Way’s Day of Caring or Adopt a Highway are great ways to start.

Some companies have gone the extra mile in giving their employees paid volunteer time. Use your discretion as to what may work best for you, but even eight hours of paid volunteer time a year can go a long way. Perhaps you are doing something like this already and formalizing it and calling it a paid volunteer program may just be the push to make it a “wow” benefit for your team. The United Way website has a great directory of volunteer opportunities. You can find it here: www.uwgcv.org/volunteer


Other miscellaneous benefits could lead to giving local business more traffic as well. If you have a fitness reimbursement program, local gyms can get a boost. Reach out to a local furniture store or appliance store for one-of-a-kind coupons to use for your team for different events in your office will help to drive traffic and provide a local connection.

Utilizing a local coffee shop for offsite interviews may well introduce a candidate to a local coffee shop and help to drive sales at the business. If you provide special dinners or outings for your team, think locally and host the event at a small local business or find a small caterer to host the event.

Thinking close to home will help you expand your horizons when it comes to thinking local for your employees. Look at a map and see who is around you or start asking your team which businesses they would like to see supported. Helping local businesses is the right thing to do and the additional bonus is it feels good to know you are making a difference in a community member’s life.

Brooke Richartz is in Human Resources at Festival Foods. She is also director of public relations and marketing for the Chippewa Valley Society for Human Resources Management (CVSHRM). To connect with her, reach out on LinkedIn or email brichartz@festfoods.com.