Land Without Limits - Industry

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HR Corner with Christie March Edition

Rural and Remote Recruitment

Welcome to the second instalment of the recruitment series! I look forward to continuing the recruitment journey with you! Let’s look at recruitment through the lens of our rural and remote communities: are you finding that the candidate pools are shrinking?  Do you struggle to stand out among other short-staffed businesses? In this article, we’ll take a look at ways to maximize your smaller community connections to broaden your recruitment strategy.

Smaller, remote communities or those far from metropolitan centres can often struggle to attract or retain outside talent, despite being at the forefront of innovation.  Community structure, such as transportation, housing, education options and even entertainment, can be a factor in relocating.  So too can the misconception that there are limited job opportunities in rural areas.

With the right approach, you can successfully recruit and hire those amazing people, either local to your area or further afield. There are several factors to consider when developing a strategy for recruiting and retaining talent in our beautiful region.

Here are seven ways to reach your ideal candidates in rural areas so that you have the workers you need no matter what sector of the industry you’re in.

Appeal to your local community

Emphasize your connection to the local community
Reputation matters in close-knit rural areas. People want to feel that companies are part of the local community. It’s important to get involved in your area where you can.  Promote yourself as an employer of choice by working on fantastic workplace culture, and look into opportunities to sponsor charity events or participate in local sports or school programs. If you want to recruit locally, let potential candidates see that you’re willing to invest in the community, which builds trust.  Take the opportunity to use your job postings to remind applicants of your connection to the area. They can be reminded of the positive impact you’ve had on the community, which may increase interest in you as an employer of choice.

Offer added incentives and other benefits
Career progression matters to most workers. If they feel underutilized or that their skills have plateaued, they’re more likely to become disengaged with their work, negatively impacting productivity. In turn, they’re also more likely to resign from their current position.  As a result, your remaining workforce may have to work longer hours to maintain deadlines, which can be costly and lead to burnout. To prevent this, evaluate your total compensation strategy – not just the monetary component,, but all of the value-added incentives that you offer.  

Below are some ideas on value-added incentives.  Some of them are best practices, but many are additional organizational benefits that can bring you a competitive edge and a positive workplace culture.

  • A competitive salary based on your sector and area.
  • Training and education courses for workers to expand their skills, leading to advancement.
  • Flexible schedules to accommodate workers with families, appointments or school schedules.
  • Paid time off that acknowledges the need for work/life balance and time away; the cost for this can be outweighed by the benefits to the business with productivity boosts and validation to hard-working employees.
  • Four-day work weeks or flexible work schedules – a bonus to full-time employees!
  • Snacks, lunches and other food items at the workplace, or food discounts and programs; grocery costs continue to rise and food is almost always welcome!
  • Company retreats or team-building events help employees feel connected to each other, build communication and collaboration as a team, and can motivate the group to be productive, innovative, and collaborative.
  • Pet-friendly offices or work sites – who doesn’t want to bring their pets to work? Studies show that pet inclusion (even if it’s just an occasional “bring your dog to work day”) can lower stress levels, increase office morale and give staff more opportunities to get up and stretch.  Don’t forget to lay down some animal etiquette rules, though!
  • Fitness perks like gym memberships, health spending accounts or group yoga sessions at work are also great ways to care for your employee’s physical and mental well-being.
  • Department-Wide Competitions are a great incentive for employees – they can bring out some positive competition and increase problem-solving skills. They can be tied into organization initiatives such as developing new systems or re configuring spaces.  On the plus side, it’s also fun! 

Advertise your safety process
During the pandemic, safety came to the forefront as a consideration in recruitment; it continues still as an important factor to candidates, ranking at the same-level as workplace culture and relationships with co-workers.  Employers continue to update their safety processes to minimize risks and keep their teams healthy. Consider who you position your organization in terms of over-arching safety perspective:  how do you want candidates to view the organization in this area?  Strong policies, and detailed risk assessments can ensure a culture of safety that benefits you through increased retention and reduced risk injury and subsequent cost to the business.  Promote your company’s updated safety process on your website and applications; this shows candidates that you’re a proactive employer and prioritize the health and wellness of your workforce. Communicable Disease prevention plans and other required safety regulations should be updated as necessary, and statements regarding your stance on safety can be included in postings and on your website.

 If you are struggling to attract following the above, consider:

Broaden your job candidate search
In many cases, focusing too heavily on a preferred group can limit your options, especially if the labour shortage continues. Instead, let’s think outside the box and bolster your workforce with people from all demographics. For example:

  • Veterans: Veterans often have unique transferable skills; support and grant funding programs can assist employers in the recruitment process, and with finding talented candidates.
  • Youth:  Our youth, from college graduates up to 29 are some of the most tech-savvy individuals, quickly adapting to online training portals or new systems, reducing some of the on boarding time. 
  • Mature Workers: Despite the startling number of retirements over the course of the pandemic, there has been a modest return to mature workers to the labour pool, bringing with them long-established skill sets and experience.
  • Foreign Workers: Increased numbers in programs supporting new Canadians, international students, immigrants and Temporary Foreign Workers can open up your labour pool considerably.  While additional community relocation support may be required pre-employment, the benefits, including a wider skill-set, increased diversity, and long-term retention can outweigh that factor.
  • Students: Employers who take on students for work placement programs enjoy as many benefits as the students they employ, if not more! Hiring students means employers get access to a fresh talent pool with an education in the latest technology and industry practices, potentially offering new knowledge. Many are comfortable with new and changing technologies, and willing to adapt and grow with those changes. With fresh perspectives and a desire to make an impact, students are eager to impress and work hard for the teams they find themselves on.
  • New to Industry:  There are many circumstances where an individual does not meet the skill set criteria in a role; however, if you are looking to fill entry-level positions, consider candidates who, at first glance, seem completely new to the industry.  While people with little or no experience will need training, they are often eager to learn and can increase your team’s productivity in the long run; look into transferable skills assessments to see how their attributes can benefit your organization.

Need more ideas? Give me a shout, and let’s brainstorm together!

List services and amenities that remote workers want to know about
The Cariboo Chilcotin region is both beautiful and diverse; if you are expanding your recruiting efforts to outside of the local area, consider highlighting the great amenities in your community and surrounding area.  Can you speak to the following amenities and attractions?  Open spaces and outdoor activities, restaurants, healthcare and other services, schools and high-quality childcare programs for families, local clubs, sports, and entertainment, accommodations, galleries, and community centres.  Can you highlight local specialties, including the go-to watering hole, an amazing restaurant or café, or annual events and activities?  If your community is remote, can you showcase the closest access to larger cities and airports to build perspective?

Marketing your community’s quality of life advantages
How your community’s advantages fit a candidate’s particular lifestyle is essential. Why would candidates want to move away from all the conveniences they already have or they don’t have but maybe want. I wanted to get away from traffic and the option to have my own horse ranch, ON MY OWN PROPERTY! Let’s face it, you are not going to find the room for that without paying millions of dollars even in suburbs.

As an example, the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) does a great job of this through their “Make the Move” initiative. It worked on me!

Come for the outdoors.  Stay for the opportunities. In the Cariboo you will find the perfect mix of lifestyle, prosperity and community.  Whether you come seeking employment or want to start a business, the Cariboo has something for you.

In the Cariboo, you can feel part of a community, regardless of your interests and lifestyle. Our region offers a unique opportunity to combine the best parts of a rural lifestyle with the convenience of nearby municipalities offering key services, facilities, and retail shopping. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, a deeper understanding of indigenous communities, art, and culture, or a chance to create your own self-sufficient lifestyle, there is fertile ground for you to plant the seeds of a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Well there you have it, I hope this article has given you some valuable insight into attracting new talent from within and outside your community.As always if you’re looking for any HR support, I am always here to help – even from the back of one of my horses!