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A new tool aims to help Northwoods young professionals make friends to increase workforce retention


A new software is trying to help local employers address the worker shortage by helping them attract and retain young employees.

LikeMinded is a tool to help young professionals make friends with other young people in the area, with the idea that these social connections will keep them around longer.

Niina Baum is the co-founder of Northwoods Young Professionals, which is collaborating with Grow North to launch the program.

She says people who develop meaningful connections where they live are 70 percent more likely to stick around.

“Essentially if someone is not connected socially or if they don’t know anyone in a new place that they’ve moved to, they’re not going to enjoy it, they’re not going to have fun and they end up becoming isolated,” she says. “So then they want to leave when another opportunity comes up.”

This is a particular issue in the Northwoods because the workforce is aging, and there aren’t enough young people to replace those who are retiring.

“So we really have to focus on retention,” Baum says. “Right now employers are really interested in anything that helps promote retention.”

Unlike many existing friendship or dating apps, LikeMinded asks specific questions about a person’s interests, morals and how they would respond in different situations.

Based on those answers, an algorithm matches potential friends.

“It’s really targeted,” Baum says. “It’s different from the other friendship apps where you just swipe through randomly on people and you don’t really know if you’ll be able to make friends with them or not.”

Northwoods Young Professionals and Grow North hope employers will use the software as part of their onboarding process to help new employees get connected – and stay connected – to the community.

LikeMinded will officially launch this Wednesday at the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business After 5 event.

*An earlier version of this story called the software an app. LikeMinded is not an app yet, though an app version of the software could be developed within the next year.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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