Recruiting and Retaining Talent in a Competitive Job Market


Canada has found itself in the midst of one of the toughest hiring markets in decades, with unemployment striking a 43-year low earlier this year. As job seekers are faced with a sea of options, HR teams need to find creative ways for recruiting and retaining top talent.
New hiring initiatives are being shaped by the demands of a younger workforce, who value excellent workplace culture, a purpose-driven mission, personal development opportunities and a flexible work environment as much as, if not more than salary. As a result, what was once considered to be an ideal work environment is now the new norm if you hope to attract the best talent.
To gain a competitive edge in a red-hot job economy, employers should ensure that their work culture is set up for success in retaining existing employees and winning new talent

Employee Retention Should be Top Priority

Employee retention is a crucial part of winning the talent war. By retaining top talent, you’ll have a more experienced team that is deeply committed to the company mission. You’ll also see less roles needed to be filled with external hires. Workplaces that are purpose-driven, encourage a flexible environment and promote a sense of community are proven to retain employees for longer and show higher job satisfaction among team members.  
As a part of employee retention, lateral movement to different teams within the company should be encouraged, in addition to other career development opportunities. Not only does this open up more opportunities for career growth, which is often a reason why employees leave a company, but it’s also conducive to building an incredibly strong skill set within the team. This will contribute to a company’s bench strength, giving a competitive advantage through retaining a strong talent force.

Employees are often adverse to inquiring about lateral movement opportunities, to avoid seeming unhappy in their current roles. To end the stigma, companies can create transparent opportunities for team members to learn about different roles within the company. At Galvanize, we hold quarterly job shadow days to encourage employees to explore new role, or just to better understand how another team works. We also recently implemented “Mingle Over Coffees,” where employees are randomly matched up across the Galvanize globe via the instant messaging tool Slack. They then set a date to meet for coffee, where they can ask questions about each other’s role within the company, and get to know them as a person. Beyond encouraging transparency about lateral opportunities, the initiative breaks down silos between teams and strengthens overall culture.

Attract Driven Candidates with Skill Development Opportunities

Potential for skill growth is enormously important to prospective employees, especially of the younger generation. In fact, 80 per cent of Millennials say that an emphasis on personal growth is the most essential quality that they look for in a company. Having formal avenues in place for skill development will attract candidates for whom growth is a priority. We are open about competencies and expectations for all roles within Galvanize, so individuals know what they need to focus on to transfer into a different team or get promoted. It will also prepare employees to be future leaders at the company.
In addition to a healthy budget for external skill development opportunities, like conferences or schooling, companies can consider implementing formal internal programs to enhance career development. At Galvanize, we have an “Emerging Leaders” program that is designed to increase participants’ core leadership competencies, to encourage growth within their role. We also have a Change Agents program, where high potential employees are provided with the hands-on support and resources of the senior team, including the CEO, and are involved in key strategic decisions which reinforces their impact within the company. This encourages employees to be proactive about coming to the table with new ideas, fostering personal growth.

Encourage a Culture Inspired by Purpose, Impact and Creativity

Maintaining a culture with impactful and exciting work is a large driver for attracting top talent. Millennials, in particular, are more likely to choose careers in which they can have a positive impact in the world, with 94 per cent of Millennials saying they want to use their skills to benefit a cause – according to a 2014 survey done by SHRM.
Maybe your organization isn’t single handedly solving world hunger, but most businesses exist because they’re filling a gap where there wasn’t an existing solution. By being clear on your “why” as a company, employees are more likely to identify with the mission and purpose behind what you do. Having brand pillars which are clearly visible around the office serve as a great daily reminder of the “why” behind the work that you do. Reinforcing individual impact on the success of your organization is also very powerful, and increases employee engagement. If an employee feels that they are directly contributing to the company’s success, they’re more likely to take pride in their work.
A company’s culture and purpose can also be defined by the way that you interact with your community, both inside and outside the office. Designated “no working” time can serve as a great communication builder and strengthen bonds. Our team regularly hosts “Disruptive Creativity” events, where employees teach their colleagues various skills such as painting, self-defense, break dancing and even poker! This is a great way to grow a sense of community within your organization while learning a new skill.
Initiatives in the greater community such as volunteer days, providing employees with a donation budget, or participating as a team in charitable initiatives are also great ways to have a tangible impact as a team. Incorporating community giveback initiatives into your company mission will tell your employees that the company’s values are in line with their personal ones, as well as ensure that they have the time and opportunity to give back within their busy lives.
In today’s hiring climate, companies should prioritize a culture that allows team members to be their best and happiest selves, if they hope to compete for the very best talent. Not only that, but promoting a work environment that emphasizes employee wellness and empowerment will drive overall engagement, boosting your bottom line. 



Kathy Enros is vice president of talent at Galvanize.

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