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Tech: Lancaster County offers pros and cons for employee recruitment

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Listrak CEO Ross Kramer, left, meets with Shane Swisher, senior director for corporate communications, in Kramer's office at the digital marketing company's new headquarters in Warwick Township, Lancaster County.
Listrak CEO Ross Kramer, left, meets with Shane Swisher, senior director for corporate communications, in Kramer's office at the digital marketing company's new headquarters in Warwick Township, Lancaster County. - (Photo / )

When leaders at digital marketing company Listrak started scoping out sites for their new headquarters, CEO Ross Kramer knew two things from the start: The company needed to stay near Lititz, and all of its people needed to be under one roof.

Listrak’s 300 employees had been working out of several offices spread throughout the Lititz area. The distance made ingraining a consistent company culture difficult, Kramer said, and rising stars in the company could too easily become lost in the shuffle when separated from upper management.

Listrak believes its new digs offer a solution to those issues. The company moved into its custom-built headquarters this spring. The 93,000-square-foot building includes all kinds of employee-friendly amenities, like a cafe and on-site gym, as well as space for the company to double its workforce.

Listrak has no immediate plans to go on a 300-person hiring spree. Still, Kramer hopes to watch the business continue growing into its space in the coming years. That will mean continuing to build on the employee hiring and retention methods it has spent the past nearly two decades assembling.

Recruiting the best

Kramer has been adamant about keeping his technology company in the Lititz area. But even though the tech industry has seen some growth here in recent years, the midstate is still no Silicon Valley.

Farm country offers some give and take when it comes to finding talent.

“Our competition for labor is not huge, so we don’t face the same competitive pressure in recruiting and retention that you would in other places (like larger cities),” Kramer said. “A take is that we do have to do a ton of training. Our labor force here, we do not have a ton of senior leaders that are in the technology space. We don’t have a ton of mid-level leaders who are technologists. We do have a lot of young people that are eager to get into the technology space that are very bright and are energized and ready to go.”

Top technology companies

  1. I.B. Abel Inc.
  2. Global Data Consultants LLC
  3. Listrak Ltd.
  4. Morefield Communications Inc.
  5. Candoris Technologies LLC
  6. Business Information Group Inc.
  7. JPL Integrated Communications Inc.
  8. Cargas Systems Inc.
  9. Sage Technology Solutions Inc.
  10. Target Media Mid Atlantic Inc.

Training employees who have little to no background in technology can prove challenging, Kramer said. A whiz with a health care or finance background may not immediately grasp concepts like how best to translate a client’s website stats into a successful email marketing campaign.

To find the people who can make those jumps, Listrak makes use of what it knows best: data analytics.

Since about 2005, the business has used personality tests — specifically DISC and Clues-brand ones — to assess the traits that make great employees great. These tests ask people a series of questions about how they feel about or would respond in specific situations and then convert those answers into quantitative measurements of traits like extroversion and the ability to work with a team.

Listrak also issues the tests to potential hires, giving the company a window into whether the applicant might have the traits needed for the position.

Some psychologists have questioned the efficacy of these types of tests, in part because applicants can often guess which answers a potential employer would like to hear. For Listrak, the assessment results are only one of many factors managers take into consideration when hiring.

For a company that deals in data, Kramer said, it makes sense to include the tests in the hiring toolbox.

Keeping employees interested

So once you have the right employees, how do you keep them?

Amenities like a cafe and on-site gym are nice — Listrak now has both — but they do not a retention strategy make, Kramer said.

Listrak instead relies largely on making sure employees can see a clear picture of what their future at the company could look like, and what steps they need to take to get there. It also offers a raise system that factors in both fixed variables, like tenure at the company, and variable factors, like performance.

“I think a fair wage is very important and something that we focus on,” Kramer said. “But we found that it’s not everything.”

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Jennifer Wentz

Jennifer Wentz

Jennifer Wentz covers Lancaster County, York County, financial services, taxation and legal services. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at jwentz@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @jenni_wentz.

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