their business online—have an urgent
need to hire software experts that had
not been part of their old recruitment
model. “There’s a definite need to go
where the talent is—the city center
where young people are gentrifying
areas, where it’s fun and more
culturally diverse,” says Cook.
Today, as YA’s Behrens looks out
his office window onto the ultra-cool
landmark mural of Minnesota native
Bob Dylan, he can report the move has
paid off for recruiting new workers.
Before the relocation, YA had 90
employees at its headquarters, 20 of
whom worked in technology; since the
move, the firm has 130 headquarter
employees, more than half of whom
work in tech-based positions.
But for YA—and scores of other
companies that have made or are
considering similar moves amid the
urban rebirth of a new millennium—
that’s only half the story.
For one thing, the transition to
digital and the increased recruiting
pressure don’t eliminate the need
for experienced and already trained
high-value employees in other
departments—many of whom have
established homes or are raising kids
near a suburban office location and
aren’t eager to move. HR departments
must figure out how to retain
employees who’d been happy with the
suburban or rural lifestyle but now
suddenly have a long commute.
“If you’re trying to attract a different
type of worker, you might lose some
of your more mature employees,” says
Matt Stevenson, a partner and leader of
the Workforce Analytics and Strategy
Group at the Mercer consultancy.
He says his firm has worked with
relocating corporations to develop
analytics to determine which workers
are more likely to resist moving and to
create ways—compensation for higher
transportation or housing costs, for
example—to retain them.
In the case of YA, longtime
employees from Nor wood Young
America—accustomed to free parking
in that rural location—were given a
$200-a-month allowance to cover the
increased cost of commuting into