Hiring Troubles in America

Has the table turned on easy recruitment?

Portrait of a proud cafe worker

It has been almost a decade since we have heard recruiters saying “you are going to have to pay more if you want to hire.” Recently in America, even at the low end of the wage scale, all types of workers are in demand.

HRM Canada does a wonderful job summarizing what American employers are doing to attract workers to the fast food industries which include:

  • Using professional recruiters
  • Extra days off
  • Paying above minimum wage
  • Free meals
  • And referral bonus

These are the types of hiring strategies and recruitment incentives that were used for high paying and hard to recruit jobs including high-tech or specialized medicine positions. Not so anymore; the lowly burger flipper now is in demand and can demand more in wages and employment perks.

What is happening? Well, it is all about the unemployment rate, which is at a rate of 4.7% in the USA; near a nine-year low. This means that the U.S. economy is close to full capacity and if employers want to hire an employee they will have to entice that employee to join them over the competition. It is a demand market for workers.

Some HR professionals have never had to experience what it is like to try and recruit in a demand market. Their HR work experience has been limited to 2008 forward when it has been relatively easy to hire workers, especially at the minimum wage level jobs. HR has to be aware that what happens in the U.S. economy usually happens in the Canadian economy. HR should now start thinking about how we keep the employees we have and what the new recruiting strategies are that will be needed in a full capacity economy. It is better to plan now than wait for the hiring crisis to happen.

Discussion Questions

  1. You work in the HR department for Tim Horton’s in Canada. Research the employment levels currently in Canada. What are they? What is considered full employment in the Canadian context?
  2. You have been asked to develop recruitment and retention strategies for Tim Horton’s. Prepare a 5 min presentation for you VP of HR.

How to Make Your Recruitment Mark!

Businessman in suit with two hands in position to protect the word "BRAND"

Marketing skills for HR Professionals

Branding, value proposition, internal marketing plans; these words do not commonly roll off the tongues of HR professionals. This is the kind of language one hears in a first year marketing class not in the HR department. According to HRM Canada and the Harvard Business Review (HBR) HR professionals better listen and read up on the importance of employee branding in recruitment success.

HRM Canada provides a short video clip on the benefits of employment branding.

Click here to watch the video clip. 

According to HRM Canada employment branding gives your company:

  • A competitive advantage
  • A recruitment marketing plan
  • An employee value proposition

Employment Branding has the goal of becoming a magnet to the potential employee. Isn’t branding just fancy jargon for recruitment? The research is saying no.

Where is the HR Department for all of this activity? Well, the research is showing it is not leading the charge. According to HBR 60% of CEO’s state that developing an employee value proposition belongs to C-suite, not HR. Also, since social media is now becoming a strong influence over recruitment, organization’s marketing departments are taking more and more responsibility for employee branding.

Click here to read an article on employment branding.

HR Departments have been fighting the image of being a transactional department and are striving to become a strategic business partner. Employee branding and recruitment are fundamental activities and HR should be front and centre leading these activities. Perhaps it is time for HR Departments to step up and dust of those first year marketing textbooks.

Discussion Questions

  1. Research what the core elements of an employment branding program are.
  2. In a large organization, who do you think should be responsible for employee branding? How do you support your opinion?
  3. Research a company that is a leader in employee branding. What did they do to get that kind of recognition?


Diversity Matters


Group of diverse people putting their hands together in the center of the photo.

In Canada, Human Rights legislation, both provincial and federal, promotes and ensures that the social fabric of a particular workplace is reflective of its external cultural environment. The law is clear in stating that discrimination against individuals is prohibited for purposes of employment. The consequences of non-compliance with the law are also quite clear. They come in the form of monetary fines, negative media coverage and social shaming, and frequently lead to costly business losses and diversions such as public apologies and reconstructive public relations campaigns.

Human Rights law tells us what not to do. It does not tell us what we can do to ensure that our recruitment practices encourage and support workplace diversity. In some jurisdictions, employment equity targets may continue to be in place with varying degrees of success. How can we progress beyond compliance with the law and equity targets that come from a restrictive perspective and move into a positive, pro-active commitment that builds much-needed workplace diversity?

According to a recent Fast Company article, ensuring a commitment to diversity in the workplace can be achieved with three fairly simple, but significant, steps.

Click here to read the article.

As we note in this article, the promotion and implementation of workplace diversity must move along a continuum, beginning with the recruitment process, working through an inclusive culture and ensuring that change is driven from the top.

Changing the recruitment process does not mean that we need to eliminate job-related requirements. Instead, we can create opportunities for candidates to participate in specific recruitment practices, such as skills based testing, using neutral, non-identifiable elements for the purpose of skills evaluation. We can also create opportunities for ourselves, as the human resources professionals managing the recruitment process, by participating in bias training to reduce the risks related to potential discrimination.

When we are able to lead by implementing specific changes to  recruitment practices, Human Resources will be able to lead the need to ensure that diversity matters in all corporate practices.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the benefits of having ‘blind’ skills-based testing done prior to face-to-face or in-person interviews?
  2. How can an organization increase its diversity profile through pro-active recruitment strategies?
  3. In your opinion, what part of the recruitment process has the highest risk of personal bias and what part has the least risk of personal bias?

Hiring for the Good.


Starbucks rewards card
Source: NorGal/Shutterstock

How do you get work experience in order to have work experience, if you have never worked before?

How do you get a job that requires you to have high school education, if you have been unable to complete high school?

This is a common dilemma for many young Canadians.  Unfortunately, when these two requirements become barriers for employment, the only alternative left for many Canadian youth is continued unemployment.  This often results in a downward spiral that can lead to poverty and homelessness, unless some form of intervention helps to stop the spiral.  Such extreme consequences of chronic unemployment create a negative impact on the individual and our communities as a whole.

Intervention in our Canadian culture usually comes through government supports and social assistance.  There are, however, more instances of highly visible businesses creating opportunities for youth as part of their corporate social responsibility and active commitment to the greater good.

For example, Starbucks (the corporate coffee giant), announced a commitment to an ethical hiring plan that would set a 10% target for hiring at-risk youth across Canada.

Click Here to Read the Article.

The announcement of this commitment came out in the late fall of 2015.  By the spring of 2016, local media started to pick up stories of job fairs offered by Starbucks, which seem to be putting this commitment into action.

Click Here to Read the Artcile.

Rather than seeing the typical negative patterns continue, in this case, we are able to see a positive and active societal change that focuses on the vulnerable and essential youth demographic in the development of the Canadian workforce.

One small change really does make one big difference.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you prepare an HR recruitment plan to hire at-risk youth at your current workplace?
  2. Identify five long-term benefits for an at-risk individual, as a result of targeted recruitment.
  3. Identify five long-term benefits of targeted recruitment that will impact Starbucks Canada.
  4. What are five possible challenges facing employers wanting to implement a targeted recruitment plan focused on hiring at-risk youth?

Wading Through the Hiring Pool

The Benefits of Expanding Your Recruitment Strategies.

A wise person once said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  Some say this quote is from Albert Einstein, or perhaps Mark Twain, or Ben Franklin – Click here for more on this mystery! Whoever said it is not as important as what it means. While most of us have heard this insight we fail to apply it! This holds true for HR professionals trying to recruit new employees.

A recent report from the Career Advisory Board states that 75% of Recruiters and Hiring Managers wouldn’t hire outside of their local geographical area. Additionally, the report found that only 7% of those job seekers have the right combination of skills required.

Click Here to Read the Article

If so few Hiring Managers and Recruiters think there is not enough qualified talent in their area, why are they still recruiting in their own backyards?

A majority of companies say they will not hire outside their geographical area, but they also say they cannot find the suitable candidates in their geographical area. It is this type of limited thinking that creates a significant barrier prohibiting the success of an organizations HR recruitment practices. Having a 7% success rate for finding a skilled and qualified talent pool leaves us wondering, where is the other 93%?

It should be time for HR to expand its thinking on recruitment and go beyond the narrow, shallow hiring boundaries to explore the depths of available talent pools outside one’s own familiar backyard.

Click Here to Watch a Video


Discussion Questions:

  1.  Why do you think most organizations are reluctant to hire outside their local geographical areas?
  2. What would be some of the additional costs of recruiting employees outside the organizations’ local geographical area?
  3. If you were presenting a business case to your VP of HR about sourcing employees from other locations, what strategies would you present?