Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroit Policy Conference > Panel: What Drives Talent to Return to the Workplace

Panel: What Drives Talent to Return to the Workplace

January 11, 2023

Dubbed “two of the most philanthropically-minded Detroit boosters we have in the community,” by sixteen42 ventures’ Dennis W. Archer Jr., Strategic Staffing Solutions’ Cindy Pasky and Huntington National Bank’s Gary Torgow took with stage during the 2023 Detroit Policy Conference to provide their perspective as top employers on philanthropy and returning to the workplace. 

The Importance of Philanthropy in the Workplace 

How both leaders balance running their businesses efficiently and successfully while also being good corporate citizens was a key facet of the conversation.  

Pasky attributed Strategic Staffing Solutions’ success to the mindset that “being profitable gives us the resources to do what we need to do,” which includes supporting the community – whether it was the initial $20 donation they made to Michigan Humane in 1990 to the significant investments and sponsorships they’ve made since.  

Torgow concurred, stating that “a company is only as healthy as the community it’s in.” 

“Charity and philanthropy and community are what drive everything that we do,” said Torgow.  

“If you want to look at how you keep your priorities in place, look at what’s most important to you. And if you look at what’s most important to you, it’s the health of those around you. And the more you do that, the more you recognize the obligations that you have to the community, the more successful you’re going to be and happier your shareholders will be as well.” 

Customer First or Worker First? Two Approaches to Returning to the Office 

When it comes to bringing workers back to the workplace, Pasky continued to emphasize the idea of Strategic Staffing Solutions being a business first and doing what it takes to keep its customers happy – including bringing workers back together. 

“Our ability to service our customers and run the way we run, which is really lean and very creative, we were not at our best using technology. We are at our best when we’re together,” Pasky said. “We couldn’t serve our customers to the best of our ability if we didn’t perform at the best of our ability, and we knew in order to do that, we needed to be together.” 

Pasky also noted the importance of returning to the office as a recruiting firm as they work with various industries, including energy and health care, which kept workers in the office from the beginning of the pandemic.  

“We recognized that we can’t ask our consultants to service a customer where they have to be forward deployed, or frontline, and call back to the office, and we’re not there,” said Pasky.  

Huntington has taken a different approach to bringing people back into the office, according to Torgow. This underscores the importance of knowing your business and your employees’ needs; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to bringing employees into work. Despite having capacity for 700 people in the bank’s new building in downtown Detroit, Torgow shared only 300 to 350 seats are currently filled. In addition, 25% of Huntington’s 20,000 employees across the region have in-office responsibilities and are completely back in office, 25% have no in-office responsibilities and are completely remote, and 50% have modified schedules that could benefit from working in office and from home.  

Torgow isn’t concerned, however, noting that as people get more comfortable returning to work, Huntington is encouraging them to come return to the office, using various incentives like “great neighbors, restaurants, sports teams,” at the downtown Detroit office as well as the ability to see the center field of Comerica Park from the building’s rooftop.  

Torgow also believes the number of people returning to the office is going to increase at businesses across the nation as people realize they are missing out on mentorship opportunities among leadership and camaraderie among coworkers. 

“It’s okay to have a home-work balance. It’s okay to not be in the office five days a week. But we really believe talent is going to be driven not by how many days a week they come to the office,” said Torgow. “Talent’s going to be driven by: do you give them a good job, do they get a good pay, do they have good benefits, do you treat them well, do you have a good company that surrounds them? And if you do and you encourage them to work with each other, people are going to come back.” 

Thank you to Huntington for sponsoring this session. 

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