In the last quarter of 2020, there were more than 560,000 positions to be filled in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.[1] This record number is the result of an aging population combined with a strong economy in spite of the pandemic.

According to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association, 85 per cent of manufacturing companies in Canada are no longer able to meet their labour needs.[2] As a result, many of them have no choice but to turn down orders. In addition to being very frustrating for the entrepreneurs who are seeing opportunities slip through their fingers, this is a painful state of affairs for the entire business community and for our economy.

At this critical moment when federal and provincial governments are making efforts to remedy this problem, which is essential to our economic recovery, we may well ask what companies can do to better position themselves in the race for the best talent and the most qualified resources.

Apart from automation, a shift in which an employer’s reputation is not a relevant factor, two solutions to the labour shortage have been identified: in-house training and international recruitment. One of the key questions is how to retain your best people and recruit new resources with the skills to keep the company moving forward and operate the new technologies that organizations require in order to grow. Popular wisdom teaches us that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.



The role of the employer brand in retaining and attracting talent

The competition for talent is hardly a new issue in the employment world. The data has been pointing in this direction for over a decade. This is precisely why the notion of employer branding took root among human resources experts and marketing mavens. The concept initially gained currency in the information technology industry, and it took off from there by leaps and bounds. Today, this aspect of branding is of vital interest to business leaders in every field.

The strategy and practice of employer branding involves far more than cosmetic measures to give an organization a little added luster. It requires a serious effort aimed at highlighting what makes a company an inspiring place to work. In a fiercely competitive market, clearly defining your value proposition and your positioning as an employer is no longer merely desirable; it’s downright indispensable as a success factor.

Retention, priority one!

There’s no point in rolling out a whole array of measures to attract new candidates when a company is having a hard time hanging on to its best people, especially since losing expert resources is very costly. In fact, turnover costs, calculated as a percentage of annual salary, can range from 75 to 100 per cent for a qualified hourly-wage employee (such as a machinist) and they can amount to as much as 200 to 400 per cent for specialized positions in fields such as engineering and programming.[3]

It is therefore essential to understand what motivates the members of your team and to know how the company ranks in its market when it comes to tangible job-motivating factors (extrinsic to the brand), such as compensation, benefits, and so on. But it’s also important to assess the degree of emotional motivation (intrinsic to the brand), as evidenced by the sense of engagement and attachment to the company’s vision, mission and values, the work environment, the team and its culture, as well as autonomy on the job and opportunities for professional development.

In short, you need to have a very developed sense of what drives employee loyalty. A good HR dashboard is useful here in order to accurately gauge the mood of your troops. Just as each company has its own culture, each industry has its own motivational factors. In an intensely competitive market, it’s essential to identify and optimize them in order to find the best possible employee fit for your business.

This also makes it possible to introduce a set of concrete measures to improve satisfaction and internal communication. And that gives you more bang for your training bucks, which can benefit the organization in the long run.

[3] Jack J. Phillips and Lisa Edwards, Managing Talent Retention: An ROI Approach, Pfeiffer, c2009, ISBN 9780470375952, table 5.1.

Boosting your power of attraction

Motivated employees who are happy at work are the best magnet to attract new recruits. These ambassadors will attest to your qualities as an employer more persuasively than any brand campaign could and enhance your value proposition to qualified candidates.

Of course, this does not replace the smart targeted marketing, fresh communication and thorough onboarding process that are essential to any talent acquisition operation. But the fact is that clear positioning and a rich corporate culture are a fundamental part of any effective recruitment program.

The bottom line

Organizations with a sound employer brand strategy are better equipped to meet the workforce challenges they face. Their investments in training and global talent acquisition are likely to yield greater returns.

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