"Smart, talented, ambitious professionals need apply!"

How to recruit ideal talent in today's competitive market, from the MRSB Consulting Services team

Ask any young person in the midst of his or her job search and they will likely tell you, "It's a tough time to find work!" This is undoubtedly true, but just as relevant is the challenge faced by employers looking for that special someone to join their team. It might seem contradictory, but the numbers show that many Canadian companies are having a heck of a time recruiting top talent.

So how does one get ahead when searching for Mr. or Ms. Ideal Employee? Well, part of it is to make prospective ones feel as warm and fuzzy about your product or service, management and culture as you do. The potential for promotion and great leadership are now seen less as incentives and more as expected standards. According to a 2013 article from The Globe and Mail, what the under 30-something crowd is looking for is (at least partly) defined by a few qualities: work-life balance, the company's reputation in the greater community and the quality of workplace environment. There are multiple ways you can highlight these positive attributes within your business, upping your chances of a dream employee brightening your doorway.

Work-life balance

This is obviously a big one. Today’s office jockey, no matter how much they strive to make each work day count, demands that their home life not only exist but that their employer recognize ("celebrate" might be too far out even in 2014) it as a crucial part of what makes him so productive in the first place. 

As stated by Indeed.com’s director of recruiting in a recent Forbes article, “Work-life balance feeds passion for the workplace and contributes to a better overall work environment and morale…In turn, [employees] are happier, more committed, more productive and therefore will likely stay with the company for a longer period of time.”

What exactly makes for this perfect parity between office and out-of-office-reply? Successful ‘big’ companies who obtain and retain a skilled and dedicated workforce implement perks like flexible work hours (up to and including unlimited vacation time!), the ability to telecommute, on-site or nearby childcare and assistance programs for family-related issues.

Is your business on board with most – or any – of these initiatives? If not, draft a list of balance-enhancing tactics that might work and discuss them with your partners, staff or a consultant to figure out which ones have wings.

Community reputation

In this lightning-fast world of nonstop Internet access, social media engagement and Joe Consumer's ability to shout his praises or air his grievances in a completely confidential, free and round-the-clock manner, it’s no wonder that most businesses develop a name for themselves that is largely out of the control of even its most devoted media personnel. A 2013 survey given by CR Magazine to over 1,000 employed and unemployed Americans found that a majority would refuse to take a job with a company that had a bad reputation. Of the employed people polled, over half said that a 50 -100 per cent increase in salary would make up for the bad publicity. This raises the question as to why you would choose to drastically boost salaries in favor of ensuring your business is seen in a glowing light by consumers. Seems like a no brainer on this end.

And while poor customer reviews are one thing, what can just as easily kill a company’s prospects for top recruits today is a lack of social responsibility, or community-mindedness. A 2007 study by Scotiabank found that 70 per cent of Canadians would consider changing jobs if their employer failed to operate in a socially responsible way (HRM Online, 2013). As noted by Forbes, corporate social responsibility (CSR) often acts as a “lever” for drawing in and engaging employees. “As consumers are ever more concerned with where products come from, employees now want more from their employer than a paycheque. They want a sense of pride and fulfillment from their work, a purpose and importantly a [company] whose values match their own,” writes consultant Jeanne Meister. 

Just as a significant boost in pay might make up for a company’s poor social reputation, job seekers seem increasingly willing to take a pay cut in exchange for a position that gives them a sense of purpose and the potential to make an impact. How can the average employer show candidates that theirs is the office where this can happen? It may be argued that the modern definition of CSR involves a whole lot more than risk-aversion. Today’s businesses are doing things like embracing environmental initiatives through ‘green’ and paperless workplaces, donating significant money and staff time to charities, fundraising and community-minded events, and partnering with like-minded neighbors to brainstorm new ways of giving back. And let’s not forget – today’s socially conscious company has no qualms about shouting their activities from the rooftops (a.k.a. Twitter and LinkedIn).

The right work environment

When it comes down to it, the most important factor for most people in deciding whether to stay or to go is how their job makes them feel, each and every day they come in to work. The old adage, "you catch more flies with honey" applies to individuals and management teams alike, and the wrong message to employees can mean faster turnaround rates and more time and money spent on recruitment for you.

Pride comes with ownership. In the office and at a desk this means feeling a real sense of responsibility for what one does and for how one contributes to his or her employer’s goals. According to James Heskett, Earl Sasser and Joe Wheeler, authors of The Ownership Quotient (2008), there are five “culture-building actions” companies should take to enhance corporate culture and hence, employee engagement:

  1. Develop strong leadership: Ensure the business remains focused on goals, values and its vision.
  2. Invest in culture: Celebrate team achievements and reward individual accomplishment.
  3. Get your workforce on board: Ask employees to evaluate and express opinions about the decisions of their leaders.
  4. Sanction bad customer/client behavior: Managers should make the decision to stop working with those whose demands are impossible to satisfy.
  5. Keep on changing: Review and redefine your core values and behaviors regularly.

 

Apart from ownership, there are plenty of other important, culture-boosting tactics to sustain that ‘full belly’ feeling among employees:

  • Appreciation and recognition in the form of rewards for good performance, funded staff events and a good old fashioned slap on the back now and then
  • Career development opportunities and a strategic method for performance reviews and promotion
  • Keeping up with the Joneses in terms of implementing innovative technologies (not for the sake of appearing cool but to enhance your workers’ efficiency and pleasure at doing their day-to-day tasks)
  • On a similar note, providing open, flexible workspaces that allow for sitting and standing, computer screens and white boards, collaboration and alone time and of course, sufficient lighting and comfortable temperatures
  • Open communication between all staff at all levels. This might include team building exercises, monthly lunches between entry level staff and upper management, or town hall meetings where everyone is encouraged to bring an idea or a question to the group
  • Encouraging employees to raise their professional profiles via paid training sessions, subsidized education or in-house mentorship

 

If all this advice failed to give you something to think about for your next recruitment campaign, you’re probably doing a lot right already! If, instead, this article caused you a moment of panic, feel free to contact Business Manager Kathryn Mills to find out how we can help you address your recruitment needs. Not to toot our own horn, but we think we have the right idea when it comes to recruiting team members who are happy to be here and who, even outside the office walls, tell people that we’re doing good things. And hey, taking pride in your team is the first step toward encouraging a culture of excellence at your workplace, right? Happy hunting!