Why Talent Chooses Windsor-Wssex

Results from the 2019 Workforce Attraction and Retention Survey

December 11, 2019

Since April, Workforce WindsorEssex has been investigating the topic of talent attraction and retention in the Windsor-Essex region. In the summer, we released results of our analysis of the migration of the workforce to learn about how our region already attracts and loses talent through migration. We learned that overall, there are promising signs that net migration is on the upswing in our region, but that we are vulnerable to net losses in university-educated workers and younger workers. We also saw that between 2011 and 2016, we experienced net losses of workers to larger urban areas like Toronto and Ottawa, but net gains in workers from nearby regions like Chatham-Kent.

The natural question that emerged from this analysis is this: what motivates the workforce to choose Windsor-Essex as a place to live and work?

To answer this question, we developed and collected responses to a comprehensive survey between August and October, 2019. 921 people – representing students, employed people, a diversity of places of origin, educational attainment levels, and age groups – responded to the survey. Here, we provide a snapshot of what we learned. These findings can be used to inform how we promote our region, and how we invest to attract and retain more talent.

Interested in browsing the survey data yourself? Check out our new STARTyqg 2019 survey dashboard.

the results

What factors most influenced relocation to Windsor-Essex?

Of the 922 respondents, 405 people identified that they had lived elsewhere before relocating to Windsor-Essex. We asked them how a series of factors influenced their decision to move to Windsor-Essex. These are the top five overall:

  1. Cost of living (1.36)*
  2. Cost of housing (1.29)
  3. Family-friendliness (1.17)
  4. Weather/Climate (1.16)
  5. Commute times and Proximity to Detroit (tie) (1.10)

*Scores indicate average weighted score and are on a -3 to +3 scale, where -3 indicates “very negatively,” and +3 indicates “very positively”

When we analyzed the results by major sub groups – including youth, university educated professionals, post-secondary students, people who moved from another country, and people who moved from another part of Canada – we found that these results were generally consistent. An important difference among people who moved from another country is how strongly the safety of the community in Windsor-Essex influenced relocation to the region: for them, safety was the third most positively-influencing factor.

Who needs to be given a reason to stay?

We asked all 867 respondents currently residing in Windsor-Essex whether they see themselves living and working in Windsor-Essex in 5 years. The graph below summarizes what we found overall and for key sub-groups.

Overall, survey respondents indicated that they do see themselves in the region in five years: 68.6% answered “Yes,” 18.2% answered “Maybe,” 8.7% answered “No”, and 4.5% were unsure. This is somewhat promising overall. Among the sub-groups of interest, the least likely to indicate that they saw themselves in Windsor-Essex in five years were university students (46.8% answered “Yes”) and people who moved here from another part of Canada (54.7% answered “Yes”).

These results highlight how we should be prioritizing regional retention efforts on post-secondary students and on people who have moved from another part of Canada.

The ideal job and workplace

How can employers optimize work conditions to better attract and retain the workforce? We asked survey respondents to indicate the level of importance they attribute to various job and workplace qualities.

Overall, the top five most important job or workplace qualities were the following:

  1. Good company culture (3.03)*
  2. Long-term job security (3.00)
  3. Work-life balance (2.99)
  4. Good job benefits (2.95)
  5. Ability to contribute positively to society (2.81)

*The above average weighted results are presented on a 0-4 scale, where 0 indicates “not important,” and 4 indicates “extremely important.”

Community qualities

What kind of places, pieces of infrastructure, and cultural assets are most important to survey respondents?

The top three most important community amenities were the following:

  1. Diversity of food options (2.69)*
  2. Public spaces (2.57)
  3. Diversity of entertainment options (2.28)

*The above average weighted results are presented on a 0-4 scale, where 0 indicates “not important,” and 4 indicates “extremely important.”

Favourite and least favourite things about Windsor-Essex

We asked survey respondents to name their top two favourite and least favourite things about the region to identify its most impressionable elements that we can leverage to promote attraction and retention of talent. We categorized their open-ended responses.

Below are the top six most popular categories of favourite things overall:

  1. A specific amenity. 31.4% of respondents listed a specific amenity or type of amenity (e.g. wineries, bike trails, sports facilities, festivals) as one of their two favourite things about Windsor-Essex.
  2. People/culture (not including own family): 21.4% of respondents indicated a specific group of people and/or their qualities (e.g. friendly, multicultural, welcoming).
  3. Detroit/proximity to Detroit: 21.2% of respondents indicated proximity to Detroit as one of their favourite things.
  4. Food: 18.2% indicated something about food (e.g. diversity of food options, specific restaurant/dish, etc.) as one of their favourite things about Windsor-Essex.
  5. Waterfront/Riverfront: 17.8% mentioned the riverfront in Windsor and/or the lakes that surround Essex County as one of their favourite things about Windsor-Essex.
  6. Weather: 13.8% of respondents indicated the weather or the climate as their favourite things about the region. This was ranked third on the list of overall favourite things for people who moved here from another part of Canada: 24.3% of them indicated weather as one of their favourite things.

Below are the top five most popular categories of least favourite things overall:

  1. Social issues: 27.1%. Specifically, drugs and homelessness were mentioned among other things.
  2. Economy: 22.0%. This includes people who indicated a perceived lack of job opportunities. This was by far the most significant category of concerns raised by people from another part of Canada: 39.7% of this group indicated this.
  3. Safety: 19.2%. Examples of this were mentions of “safety,” “crime,” “danger,” and “violence.” This was prevalent in all groups.
  4. Downtown Windsor: 16.4%. Specifically, some respondents mentioned perceived deterioration, embarrassment, lack of things to do, uncleanliness, and crime. Interestingly, residents of Essex County were more likely than those residing in Windsor to indicate Downtown Windsor as a least favourite thing about the region (18.0%).
  5. Amenities: 16.4%. The most common responses in this category were the lack of specific amenities or amenities in general. University students were most likely to indicate this (27.0%), and in fact this was the second most common least favourite thing for University students (after the economy).

Regional investments that could impact talent attraction and retention

We asked survey respondents to indicate how positively or negatively 15 specific regional changes or investments would impact the attractiveness of the region to them. According to the results, the top three changes most likely to impact the attractiveness of the region overall are the following:

  1. Improvements to Downtown Windsor
  2. More job opportunities in own field
  3. More recreational/fun things to do

next steps

At the end of January 2020, we will be releasing our guide for talent attraction and retention in the Windsor-Essex region, which will include a deeper dive into these findings as well as our recommendations for action. In the meanwhile, we invite you to browse through the results on our STARTyqg 2019 Survey Dashboard, which you can access below.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Feel free to get in touch at info@workforcewindsoressex.com