The reopening of the economy has brought forward news of labour shortages and even worse news that many employees are considering leaving their present employer to seek work that has greater work/life balance, more developmental opportunities, and better compensation.
To ensure that organizations have sufficient, qualified staff, I suggest the following 8 steps:
1. Retain what you already have. Begin by examining the turnover rate to determine the type of worker or work area within the organization that is experiencing losses. Then search for the reason staff are leaving. Exit interviews are a valuable exercise in determining the cause. Is it the money and benefits? Or is it the culture, lack of opportunities or a bad relationship with management in general or with one specific manager?
With the above information, examine how the culture of the organization may be contributing to staff turnover. Make changes to the culture if deemed necessary. If work/life balance is one of the reasons for leaving, be flexible with work rules, such as scheduling, to try and accommodate employees’ needs. If relationships with leaders is a reason, determine the root cause and begin to develop policies that correct the undesirable behaviour.
2. The Job. Given the shortage of labour, especially skilled labour, review the job description and the required qualifications so that the people hired are right for the job. Do not fall into the trap of overstating qualifications, especially the experience and educational factors. It just makes hiring more difficult at a time when labour is at such a premium.
3. Expand approach to recruitment. Because of the labour shortage, expand the areas and approach to advertising and searching for candidates. Try online community groups, using search recruiters, and making special efforts to reach the immigrant community where many of them are underemployed. Similarly, a strategy to reach diverse workforce should be developed; there is a wealth of untapped talent within these groups.
4. Develop the new hires. It is rare that a new employee meets all of the experience, skills, and abilities the job requires. As part of the on-boarding process, identify the new staff person’s abilities that could be strengthened and create a developmental plan. This will enhance the success for the employee and will help retention because it shows that you believe in the employee enough to invest in their development, and this will always remain a reason for staying.
5. Enshrine staff development into the organizational culture. Employees will gladly join an organization and will not leave if they believe that their employer will invest in their development and career advancement. Identify internal developmental opportunities and ensure that sufficient resources are available for external development programs. For the return on investment to be positive, a well-thought-out performance evaluation process is essential. It must evaluate the present performance, identify developmental needs, and outline future skills and abilities to improve upon.
6. Create a female-friendly workplace. As a result of the COVID shutdowns, a negative effect on the female workforce was experienced and continues even with the significant vacancies being experienced. As services that supported women at work shut down, many women quit their jobs to care for their children and in some cases their parents. As the economy reopens, women are not returning to work without support for their home responsibilities. By developing policies that support women at work, an organization not only finds recruitment easier, but they will have a very committed workforce that will stay. It will also give them an advantage over organizations who cannot or will not provide this support.
The following are some of the policies that will assist in recruiting and retaining women:
- Scheduling flexible working hours, where possible.
- Flexible work/home arrangements.
- Paid leave, if possible, for family emergencies.
- Mental health support through arrangements with medical clinics or an Employee Assistance Program.
- Other ideas that arise from a survey of the women in an organization and best practices in that industry.
These ideas should also apply to all the workforce if they face similar challenges. Most of these ideas need not be costly. Mostly, it requires creativity, flexibility, empathy for the needs of the female workforce and caring enough to create solutions when needed.
7. Access the most underutilized workforce – Immigrants. There are two significant barriers that immigrants face when seeking employment at a level that they have trained and educated for: undervaluing the credentials earned in their native country; and employers requiring Canadian experience.
From a recruiting perspective, during a shortage of skilled labour, it makes sense to accept the foreign credentials and have the foreign credentials evaluated by a recognized source, such as a university, and determine what is needed to achieve accreditation. Then develop a plan for the employee to obtain the credentials while employed, if at all feasible.
The second barrier to gaining the right level of employment for immigrants is the need to have Canadian experience. This is a classic case of a “catch 22”. If you arrive from a foreign country, how can you have Canadian experience? Often this need is overstated and/or not needed at all. Recently the Ontario Government has announced that they will do away with this requirement. The Human Rights Commission has also stated that it is discriminatory unless proven to be required. The employers who remove this barrier will have a great advantage over those who cling to it. It is my opinion that hiring without Canadian experience and providing a plan to gain the essential of that experience is a good investment.
8. Compensation. This includes wages, benefits, developmental policies, and employee assistance policies that meet the needs of the workforce. Employees will look at the total package and not just wages. The total compensation package must be competitive within the industry. Keep in mind that employees want to work for employers who also provide career opportunities and value their work and are recognized for it. The reputation of the employer in the community is also very important to employees, as such consider and improve your contribution to the community.
By attending to these eight aspects of recruitment and retention, a business will have better success finding staff and for satisfying their needs so that they will stay and grow within the organization.