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Understanding Culture and Building Better Businesses

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BridgingtheGap2019 1

UCC business conference brings a focus on workplace culture to employee recruitment, development, and retention.

ROSEBURG, Oregon – Umpqua Community College (UCC) hosted its second annual spring business conference called Bridging the Gap on Friday, April 26. This year’s focus: Building a Place where People love to Work. The event, which was sponsored by UCC Community & Workforce Training, UCC’s Business Department, and UCC’s Small Business Development Center, was created to provide participants with an opportunity to network with local employers and gain insight into their challenges with workforce recruitment and retention.

“We had about 55 non-UCC students participating this year,” John Fett, UCC’’s Training Services Coordinator, said.

Participants gained insight from the featured speakers Levi Ayriss and Clayton Reinhart from Dutch Bros. Coffee, and Jeff Wickstrom, President of Overhead Door Company of Roseburg. All three speakers provided insight to the types of culture each of their businesses experience.

When asked how to keep employees, Wickstrom explained, “You’re no better or worse than your employees. It’s important to care about your employees’ lives and to show involvement through staff meetings, safety meetings, and any way you can come together.”

Reinhart and Ayriss touched on the importance of adapting to changes both culturally and technologically—which is critical for Dutch Bros. Coffee’s 9,500 employees between the ages of 17 and 27.

“[One of our] main goals is developing our people,” Ayriss said. “A large part of achieving that is communication. However, with all these new platforms for communicating, a challenge we face is getting employees to put their phones down. With culture, it’s all about finding a balance.”

When touching on the purpose of seminar, Ayriss suggested it should go from “building a place where people love to work” to “building a workplace to love people.”

Another thing the company does is encourage employees to move on to bigger and better opportunities, whether that means finishing training for Dutch Bros. or finishing a degree program because the most important thing you can do after you graduate is continue to learn.

Along with the guest speakers, UCC Business faculty members Toni Clough, Dr. Alan Aylor, and Gary Gray also spoke on the challenges of building and maintaining culture. They held a number of workshops that covered subjects such as building culture in a small business, using culture as a catalyst for innovation and change, and getting millennial buy-in.

The event is expected to return next year.

Story and photos by Madelyn Foster, UCC Student

About Umpqua Community College

Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.