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Helping Hand To New Residents

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- Local businesses like Rockwell-Collins, Alliant Energy and General Mills all recruit talent from other parts of the country and globe to find the specialized skills they need. Diversity Focus, a group that helps promote diversity in our community, and its Employer Resource Group is trying to share ways to ease the culture shock that those employees might feel.

"The resources of our employees and their own brains is the biggest resource we have," said the City of Cedar Rapids Human Resource Director Conni Huber.

But a transition to Cedar Rapids can be tough on employees who come from far away.

"They come here and they just can't find the services or the entertainment or the things that they can connect to to make it seem more like home," said the Director of Security and Facility Services at Alliant Energy Oather Taylor.

Taylor says he sees people leave because they just feel like they're always an outsider. Rue Patel is a Plant Manager at General Mills. He says it's a little different there.

"Retention has not been a big issue for us," says Patel.

He says it starts with building a culture that's open and welcoming.

"The first thing that we try to do is give them that confidence that says, 'Hey, I can go to somebody who will put down their pen, turn away from their computer and spend time with me and show me some of the things I need to navigate the organization," said Patel.

He says not only is an employee's time at work better, but their time at home is more comfortable. Some say workers getting involved in programs outside work helps even more.

"What people want to do is do fun things when they're not working because that creates the energy for things they do in work," says the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University of Iowa Dr. Daniel Reed.

It means that companies have to be community-minded in a way some say they just haven't been before.

"That's different," said Taylor. "That's not the traditional model of HR programs or programs within any of our corporations."

The process of helping workers adjust isn't just exclusive to the paid employees. General Mills says it starts with its interns to grow that culture from the ground up. 
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