Some afternoons, it seems like Miami was cast from sunlight. Royal palms line our highways, downtown glimmers across the waterfront and there are beachgoers … everywhere. It isn’t difficult to imagine why people choose to live here.

The challenge is figuring out why, even after the initial charm fades, people choose to stay.

Developing a greater Miami means understanding what draws people to this community. In order to grow, we must know what fosters a sense of attachment. Encouraging residents to establish bonds allows the city to better attract, engage and retain talent. Quantifying this relationship also helps highlight areas the city can improve, thus guiding our plans to tackle city-wide issues with specificity.

Measuring attachment was the challenge The Miami Foundation, along with FIU and our partners, set out to meet through developing the Our Miami Match305 talent retention study. The project consisted of an online survey developed by BlackbookHR that determined levels of “embededdness” – how attached participants felt toward their community and place of employment – and provided creative ways to increase personal attachment.

The survey was comprised of 25 questions structured around three major categories:

“fit” (the extent to which people feel aligned with their organization and community),
“link” (the level of connectedness at work and at home), and
“sacrifice” (‘pain’ associated with leaving their job or the community).
More than 7,000 Miamians responded.

The results established that across demographics, citizens felt they fit well within their communities and that it would be a large sacrifice to leave the city. Yet, consistently, citizens scored lowest in feeling linked within their professional and personal worlds. This demonstrated that even the most seasoned residents still needed to feel more connected within their communities.

Across demographics, women, Hispanics, those over 50 years of age, and earners of more than $80,000 annually, expressed the highest levels of attachment. At the other end of the spectrum, males, Asians between the ages of 18 and 26, and individuals who earned less than $40,000 felt the least attached. The relationship between income, age and attachment was unsurprising as these are indicators of stability, which raises the sense of fit and increases link and sacrifice.

The Match305 study also demonstrated a relationship between job, residence tenure and levels of attachment. Respondents who have lived in the city for less than a year indicated very high levels of attachment. These sentiments declined sharply for those who have worked and resided here between one and three years.

The results of Match305 revealed that Miami’s biggest opportunity to improve attachment is by helping individuals form connections and relationships in their personal and professional communities. We have strong networks here in Miami, but they can be tough for newcomers to break into. The more we each take active responsibility to build meaningful synergies between members of our circles, the stronger our community’s social fabric becomes.

If you know two people that need to know each other, introduce them. Each of us have the power to develop links and weave a more connected, engaged Greater Miami.

Read the full Match305 talent retention study report.

We had a Twitter chat to discuss results on June 18. Click here to see a Storify of the conversation.

Stuart Kennedy is the senior programs officer leading the Our Miami project at The Miami Foundation

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