Tight labour market makes hiring, and keeping, top performers a priority for employers
Quebec's labour market is tighter then ever and that means top employers need to do even more to stand out as employers of choice.
"With the labour shortage, not only is the candidate passing an interview with the employer, but more and more, the employers themselves are interviewed by the candidates," said Yves-Thomas Dorval, the president and CEO of the Conseil Du Patronat Du Quebec, the province's largest employers group.
And it's not just about hiring -- it's also about retaining workers, he said.
Just what companies are doing to set themselves apart varies from firm to firm, Dorval said.
While compensation -- salary and monetary benefits, like bonuses -- remains the most important factor, he said, it's not the only one.
Many people are also looking for a sense of achievement in their work. People no longer want to do the same job for 30 years, Dorval said.
That's why professional development programs and training are important -- they can help employees get that sense of achievement and open the doors to movement within the company and that movement doesn't always mean a promotion, Dorval said, sometimes lateral moves that allow an employee to take on a new challenge can give that sense of achievement as well.
Natacha Brind'Amour, the director of people at digital advertising firm District M, has a similar view.
"Companies sometimes think that the most powerful retention tool is to increase salaries and compensation or bonuses," she said. "But in reality the studies tell us that it's development that really matters to employees."
The company gives tuition subsidies to employees who want to take additional training or courses. While that program is partially a retention tool, Brind'Amour said, it has an additional benefit to the company -- employees bring what they learned back to work.
At some companies, like consulting firm Landry and associates, the company will subsidise tuition for employees who are taking courses that are directly related to their jobs -- as well as courses that aren't related to an employee's current role (though those courses do have to be relevant to the business).
Because of that program, Catherine Hoang, a performance management advisor at Landry, who works in human resources now also supports the marketing team and does some business development.
The success of the company, she said, is directly related to the success of its employees.
"If we want them to grow with us, then we have to invest in them," she said.
Too many companies don't see spending on people as an investment, said Alain Gosselin, a professor at HEC Montréal's department of Human Resources Management.
"One of the mistakes businesses are making is that they consider human resources, or pay, or training, whatever dollar that goes to managing people, as a cost and not as an investment," he said.
That's a mistake, he said, especially since today's customers are so mobile. That means it's more important than ever for companies to invest in human capital and make sure their workers have the right knowledge and skills.
"You need to treat your employees as well as you want your employees to treat your customers," he said.
Pay is important, he said.
"You don't necessarily need to be the best payer, but you need to be a fair payer," Gosselin said.
But what's also important is the relationship that workers have with their colleagues and their boss, he said. Those relationships are even more of a priority among younger workers.
"People will stay because of that," Gosselin said, because if they have a good relationship with their employer and their colleagues, they'll worry they won't be able to find that elsewhere.
Some employers, like shipping company CSL Group, are also seeing success with one of the most traditional types of benefits -- bonuses.
"Traditional perks like our bonus program are highly valued by our employees who see them as tangible recognition of their contribution to CSL. In turn, employees are motivated to succeed both as individuals and as part of a team, which contributes to developing a culture of performance," said Brigitte Hébert, CSL Group's director of communications.
But, just what works best will depend on the company.
"It's really a big puzzle for every employer right now," said Dorval.