People run businesses, great people make businesses thrive but finding them can be a challenge especially if you are running a business outside a major city. Sadly, unlike in the movie Field of Dreams workers will not magically show up with the skills you need as you grow your business you need to go find them.
A recent EMC SIG event in beautiful Lunenburg NS focused on the challenges many face finding the right people to fill roles they need to run their businesses. The event started with the regular EMC update. Topics such as training, upcoming SIG events and the EMC GPS LMI survey were reviewed. Following that, attendees introduced themselves and answered two simple questions. What was the role of the last person you hired and what role(s) are you still trying to fill today? The range of positions was interesting but there were some common threads but clearly everyone was in need of people and challenged to find them.
The conversation then turned to what are the methods being used to find people. As expected methods of advertising were discussed, social media, and ‘headhunters’ all were in play. Other interesting additions were recruiting sites like ‘indeed’ and some of the creative methods used to get the word out, terms like ‘crawling’ were new to me but it demonstrated that you need to be current with technology to be getting the results you need. Finally, and perhaps most interesting, were referrals from employees. This sparked a lot of discussion with some companies having good success, some not so much and others having a fairly lucrative compensation strategy in place should a referral be successful (one even has a lottery pool for those involved, even if the referral does not get hired the referring person’s name is thrown in a hat for a draw at the end of the year for a prize, creative!)
Some of the best discussions at SIGs happen during the break over a coffee!
The group discussed the need to ‘sell’ more than the opportunity for employment. People moving to a region need to know what it offers (and you need to be honest to tell them what it does NOT offer) finding out that a person loves active night life after they are hired in January in Lunenburg does not spell success! Most admit this is a weakness and organizations such as the YMCA YREACH program (http://ns.211.ca/service/9452195_29927842/yreach ) and initiatives like NowLunenburg County ( https://youtu.be/7gvzhKyE-w0) should be kept in mind. Clearly there are resources companies can use to improve how they sell the region!
A topic that sparked a lot of interest was the continuing gap between the school / college system and industry when dealing with available training in the skills needed by industry NOW. For example, it is not enough to train welders if they are not exposed to welding aluminum and stainless steel in school as many local companies need that skill. Many programs such as cabinetry and mechanical drafting have either vanished completely or have been moved far away from where workers are needed. Specialty skills such as PLC programing, electro-mechanical assembly etc. are even harder to find. Discussion moved quickly to immigration as a possible solution but there was unanimous agreement that finding local, provincial or national candidates is a priority as the red tape of immigration is often just not worth it. That coupled with the IMMEDIATE need for workers makes the hoops and timing of brining someone in from abroad is often not a practical option.
In addition, we talked about housing challenges, spousal support networks etc. etc.
Who wouldn't want to live and work here?
The group also met and heard from Jim Key and Amrita Hazra of Nova Scotia Works (www.empsolutions.ca) who talked about the services they offer to employers and those wanting to work for those employers. Lots of good input and opportunities with this organization!
Clearly this is a very important subject that does not have an easy or simple solution. From my perspective it is imperative that local organization and developing a common goal / purpose is critical for industry in rural areas. Impacting training resources, improving support networks, establishing social activities outside of work are all things that will contribute to future success. Finally, you have to constantly consider two things and be vocal about them.... what makes you an employer of choice and what makes this region a great place to live and you better be ready to answer those questions at the interview!
Thanks to ABCO for the idea for the event and for hosting and thanks to all who participated, it was a great morning.
If you have any questions about this event or EMC in general, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org