Invest Hamilton County

Memos From Mike

Resiliency is a Climbing Harness not a Bootstrap
February 13, 2023

Resiliency is a climbing harness not a bootstrap

Before the pandemic I can’t recall resiliency being a word present in my everyday interactions. But since, it has become one of those topics on everyone’s mind… and one with a myriad array of definitions and understanding. This divergence exists to an even greater extent within the workplaceThe “lift yourself back up by your bootstraps” mentality is a thing of the past… and frequently is the secret behind why people walk in and out doors so frequently before that magical 90-day retention mark.

“We’ve got a great culture… people who stick with us for [insert number here] months stick around for years!” This is a conversation I have had hundreds of times with HR and corporate leaders throughout Indiana when talking about recruitment/retention funnels and the challenges engrained in them. The fact is… for 95% of the people who tell me this they’re right! But also, even a great culture takes time to seep in and be realized. It discards the fear that exists within a new opportunity or work endeavor, and the fact is that many workers within our economy have been perpetually mistreated or undervalued for much of their working life. To misquote Dune… fear is the job killer.

It is important to recognize that for many workers all it takes is one bad day for them to lose their job. They’ve had this experience many times and believe that any time life gets hard and work suffers, it means they need to leave and find something new (or just stop working for a while). In conversations with supervisors and HR this couldn’t be further from the truth, “I wish they’d just called or just told me what was going on… and we would have helped!” is a conversation I have had many times when playing the role of workforce intermediary.

This dynamic needs to exist on the front lines and be encouraged and present among supervisors. If a business is having these types of retention challenges you can even develop a scripted or bulleted process for how you deal with every day and uncommon but hard life difficulties (ie… kids out sick from school, car breaks down, death in family, out sick yourself etc…) and walk through it with new hires. Sometimes accommodations aren’t possible and that transparency is important… but if they really are then it needs to be proactively vocalized with specific examples during onboarding and interviews.

For many people when they fall, they have to pick themselves back up… but how different would it be if you help them build a harness and when they do fall, they don’t have to start all over and/or get hurt? They’ll never do it themselves but with active coaching and assistance almost anyone can get there.



Mike Thibideau serves as the President & CEO of the Hamilton County Economic Development Corporation (dba Invest Hamilton County). In this role Mike manages workforce development, talent attraction and quality of life initiatives throughout Hamilton County.