Category Archives: hiring

Still in Search of Skilled Workers

searching for talentAnd the talent shortage continues.

That’s the simple message found in survey results released by Manpower Group this week.

In its 10th annual Talent Shortage Survey, the Milwaukee-based Manpower surveyed 41,748 employers in 42 countries and territories, “to explore the extent of talent shortages within the global labor market, which job categories are particularly hard to fill and why, the impact of talent shortages on businesses, and how employers are responding to the challenges raised by the lack of available talent in specific job categories,” according to a press release announcing the survey findings.

Globally, the percentage of employers reporting trouble in filling job vacancies continued to rise, climbing from 36 percent last year to 38 percent in 2015. The shortage is most severe for organizations in Japan, where 83 percent of hiring managers said they encounter difficulty in finding the necessary talent, while 68 percent of employers in Peru and 65 percent of respondents in Hong Kong said the same.

The prognosis here in the States, however, seems somewhat better, with 32 percent of U.S. employers saying they struggle to fill positions due to talent shortages, compared to 40 percent who reported as much in 2014.

That’s not to say that closing the talent gap isn’t still a concern here at home, of course.

Indeed, 43 percent of respondents said talent shortages are taking a toll on their organizations’ ability to meet client needs, with 32 percent saying they’ve experienced increased employee turnover, and the same percentage reporting higher compensation costs and lower employee engagement. Forty-eight percent of the U.S. employers surveyed acknowledged that talent shortages have a “medium to high impact” on business in a broader sense.

More interesting, though, is the percentage of employers seemingly taking no action to blunt that impact. That number remains relatively small, but is going up.

According to the Manpower survey, 20 percent of U.S. employers are still not pursuing strategies to overcome talent shortages in 2015—a 7 percent increase from 2014.

What remains consistent this year is the trouble American companies face in filling skilled trade vacancies. For the sixth consecutive year, “skilled trade workers” topped the list of U.S. jobs most in demand, with drivers, teachers, sales representatives and administrative professionals rounding out the top five.

“Talent shortages are real and are not going away,” said Kip Wright, senior vice president of Manpower North America, in the aforementioned press release. “Despite impacts to competitiveness and productivity, our research shows fewer employers are trying to solve the problem through better talent strategies.”

These companies fail to address the issue at their own risk, added Wright.

“As the struggle to find the right talent continues, and candidates with in-demand skills get the upper hand, employers will be under pressure to position themselves as ‘talent destinations’ to attract the best workers that will drive their business forward.”

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Doing Your Homework in the APAC Region

If there’s an underlying message in First Advantage’s latest study on background checks in the Asia Pacific region, it’s to tread carefully.

ThinkstockPhotos-122576156I received a copy of the firm’s 2014 Background Screening Trends Report for Asia Pacific the other day, analyzing 2 million of its background checks it conducted in the region. Among the findings: a 6.5 percent increase in candidates misrepresenting their curriculum vitae. Digging deeper into the data, Australia and New Zealand (27 percent) consistently recorded a higher discrepancy rate across Asia Pacific, followed by Singapore and Hong Kong (19 percent and 16 percent, respectively).

As has been the case in prior years, the discrepancy rate in China continued to be lowest among the lot, at around 9 percent in Q4.

So where are the discrepancies occurring?  In terms of employment discrepancies, 54 percent concerned employment history. The three most common education-related gaps in the region were graduation dates with a variance of more than six months (6 percent), graduation dates with a variance of less than six months (5 percent) and unconfirmed degree (3 percent).

The research also revealed that employers are beefing up their screening efforts and increasing their number of background checks, with 67 percent of all cases subjected to at least five checks in 2014, compared to 42 percent in 2013.

Mathew Glasner, South Asia managing director for First Advantage, found the lower discrepancies in the less mature and higher risk markets like Malaysia, China and the Philippines particularly interesting. “This is driven by fewer checks per screen than we typically find in the more mature markets,” he said. “In the Philippines, for example, our customers conducted, on average, only 3.5 checks per screen and uncovered only 12.8 percent discrepancies compared to Australia, where they conduct, on average, 5.2 checks per screen and uncover 26.94 percent discrepancies. This behavior is counterintuitive when you consider the risk associated with hiring into these emerging and higher risk markets.”

Among the other trends Glasner is spotting: increasing usage in the region of infinity screening—or the rechecking of existing employees’ backgrounds. “The ongoing screening of staff represents a real opportunity to mitigate fraud, financial crime and reputational risk,” he said.

It goes without saying, of course: These findings should bode well for First Advantage and other background checkers with operations in the region.

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Intel’s Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

dv1080001Intel Corp.’s Diversity in Technology Initiative that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced in January — and Senior Editor Andrew R. McIlvaine blogged about at the time — appears to be chugging along quite nicely.

In a speech delivered Wednesday at the Rainbow PUSH Silicon Valley Tech 2020 Summit, Krzanich announced some impressive progress, confirming he was dead serious four months ago when he presented plans to make Intel more representative of the U.S. population by 2020, with some $300 million dedicated to the effort.

For one, he told summit-goers, 41 percent of hires at Intel this year have been diverse, versus 32 percent last year. For another, 17 percent of senior hires in the first quarter of 2015 are underrepresented minorities and 33 percent are women, up from 6 percent and 19 percent in 2014, respectively.

He also announced that Intel has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Oakland Unified School District to commit $5 million over the next five years to implement a comprehensive, “education-transformation solution” that will create a computer-science and engineering pathway for more than 2,400 students, with a graduating cohort of 600 students over the next five years.

“We knew we wanted to do something in K-12 education that targeted underrepresented minorities and we thought we should start in our own backyard,” Krzanich says in this USA Today piece about that initiative.

Lastly, he said Wednesday, his company has committed to spending $1 billion with diverse-owned businesses by the year 2020.

In her May 6 blog post about Krzanich’s update, Rosalind L. Hudnell, Intel’s vice president of human resources and director of diversity and inclusion, addressed some of the underlying philosophies behind this push:

“Improving the diversity of our workforce and the pipeline of students going into this field is not just the right thing to do.  It’s the critical thing to do.  The people who purchase and use technology come from all walks of life.

“Without employees with diverse backgrounds, opinions and problem-solving skills, Intel can’t properly address the needs of a diverse market. Diverse teams and companies lead to greater creativity, strategic thinking and innovation. Greater diversity also results in better products and smarter business decisions. So how do we get there? This is the hard part, because diversity is a complex issue.”

In many stories we’ve written over the years about meaningful workforce initiatives, diversity included, a repeating theme has been the need for top-down buy-in and commitment to occur if any of them are to succeed and if promised goals are to be met.

Nice to see that working so well in the Intel corner of Silicon Valley.

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Tapping the Power of a Good Story

When you think of great recruiters, Ernest Shackleton probably isn’t going to be the first person to pop into your head. But if you ask Mike Pierce, who kicked off the ERE Recruiting Conference yesterday in San Diego with a keynote address titled “Tell Powerful Stories to Answer, ‘Why Should I Join Your Team,’ ” talent-acquisition leaders could learn a thing ThinkstockPhotos-151575842or two about the art of hiring (and, of course, leadership) from this early-20th-century adventurer.

As a refresher for those of you who might be a little rusty on your history, Shackleton was an Irish-born British explorer who was a principal figure during the period known as the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.” His third attempt to reach the South Pole, aboard the Endurance, was unarguably the most famous of his endeavors.

Shackleton, along with his 27-person team, set out from London in 1914 with the goal of crossing the Antarctic by foot. Before reaching the continent, however, the Endurance became entrapped in ice, forcing Shackleton and his crew to abandon the ship and set up camp on floating ice. More than a year would pass before they would see land again. (Remarkably, the entire team survived this terrible ordeal.)

In his talk, Pierce, a San Diego-based consultant, speaker and author who goes by the nickname “Antarctic Mike,” shared with attendees how Shackleton’s story personally inspired him back in 2006 to become one of nine people to run a full 26.2-mile marathon on an ice shelf 600 miles from the South Pole, something that “never had been done before.” 

Pierce’s PowerPoint deck included a copy of a classified newspaper ad (remember those?) that Shackleton used to “recruit” his team …

“Help Wanted

For hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.”

Could he have been any more direct?

So how many people responded? 10? 50? 100? Remarkably, Pierce said, 5,000 people replied to the ad. Why? Because, he explained, Shackleton was able to write his story in a way that captured people’s attention.

Job candidates, Pierce explained said, “are looking for evidence of credibility—and a story is the most effective way to [give them that evidence].”

“Stories are the most magical vehicle on the planet to move people,” he said. “People love stories, especially those that are credible and true. They can show that you are … authentic … accessible … and for real … .”

To make his point, Pierce shared several examples of how employers have used videos to connect with job candidates, including a pretty entertaining one from Sutton Group, a Chilliwack, Canada-based realtor. (Chilliwack, in case you’re wondering, isn’t far from Vancouver.)

Referring to the Sutton Group video, Pierce said “people love it when the leaders of a company are accessible.” Well, say what you may about the Sutton video, but it’s hard to argue CEO Kelly Johnson isn’t making himself “accessible.”

The 2013 video reportedly continues to deliver results for Sutton Group today.

Pierce said he had every reason to believe everyone in the room worked at organizations with their own stories to tell. But, he asked, “are those stories out [in the market today] producing results for you? Are they out in places where people will see them and be moved by them?”

Thanks to the tools available to employers today, he said, capturing those stories and putting them out there isn’t all that hard to do.

And that, of course, begs the question: Why aren’t more organizations doing it?

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Upbeat Hiring News for 2015 Grads

There may be some early excitement on the nation’s college campuses this spring after SHRM released its Hiring of 2015 College Graduates Survey which shows that, while compensation levels may be holding steady for the newest entrants in the workforce, 35 percent of organizations have already hired college students to begin working before or after their 2015 graduation.

But even for soon-to-be grads who have yet to secure employment, there is also hope in the survey, as almost two-thirds of organizations (65 percent) have not yet hired 2015 college graduates. Of these organizations, the majority (71 percent) still plan to hire graduates, an 18 percent increase since 2013.

“During the recession, many companies may not have focused recruiting efforts on college graduates because of a lack of openings and limited turnover. But now we are beginning to see entry-level hiring pick up,” said Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM. “Compared to recent years, 2015 college graduates can be optimistic in their job search.”

Not to brag, but Editor David Shadovitz wrote about the upturn in grad hiring last December on HREOnline.com.

In that piece, Shadovitz discussed with Philip Gardner, director of Michigan State University’s College Employment Research Institute in East Lansing, Mich., how the upturn in hiring could affect employers’ college-recruiting efforts:

“The last couple of years,” Gardner says, “they were able to finish recruiting [by October] and didn’t have to do a lot of work in the spring, but that’s changing. Now, they’re going deeper and deeper into the [college] year and are starting to see reneges going up.”

And with more good news on the college hiring front likely on the way (shaking an angry fist at embargoed material), this should serve as a good reminder to HR organizations to keep their top college recruits in the loop as much as possible.

To ensure these candidates don’t “drift away,” Gardner advises employers to pay much closer attention to “staying in touch” with them once offers are made and “involve them in the [business] sooner.”

And judging from this SHRM survey’s 35-percent figure cited above, it seems that getting “involved in the business” early is also becoming more important for both college students and grads.

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More in the Coffer to Help Prisoners Find Jobs

It wasn’t that long ago (little more than a month) that I was blogging about an announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor that it was 126268666 -- prisoner workingcreating a $5 million funding opportunity to link inmates to jobs before they’re even released.

The idea there was to place American Job Centers inside local jails where soon-to-be-released prisoners would be able to access job-placement services and counseling to increase their chances of getting work without going through that uneasy “limbo” between living behind bars and earning a living.

Now, again from the DOL, comes significantly more, as this release announces: a whopping $27 million to fund its Training to Work-Adult Re-entry grant program to help, as its release says, “thousands of soon-to-be-released inmates become productive citizens.”

I wish I could tell you specifically how the two programs differ. Numerous calls and emails to the DOL went unanswered. But that doesn’t really matter. What does is the added help — significant help — ex-cons will be getting to rejoin the workforce and the world.

According to the announcement, the department expects to award about 20 grants with a maximum value of $1,360,000 each to provide training and employment services for men and women, ages 18 and older (including veterans), who participate in state or local work-release programs.

The approach is designed to link and coordinate education and training services for these people to get industry-recognized credentials. Those credentials will, in turn, help them find meaningful work (translated: not just assembly line and blue-collar) and give employers what they need to fill their gaps in growing sectors and industries.

Having personal experience with this — a relative who is now trying to re-enter society after paying his dues for some very bad life choices — I confess, what U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has to say about this latest move resonates with me:

“A good job gives a person a sense of dignity and purpose. It enables [him or her] to find a decent place to live and enjoy a hot meal at home. Good jobs are a pathway to the middle class. Those who have paid their debt to society deserve the opportunity to find and hold useful employment. It puts money in their pocket, most of which is pumped back into the economy. In the best America, everyone shares our prosperity. That’s what these grants can make possible.”

Of course, all the money in the world can’t buy a guarantee that all hiring managers will leave all bias at the door when they enter the interview room. Or follow all the steps of the interview process laid out by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its background-check guidelines, including when it’s appropriate to discuss an applicant’s past incarceration.

But it’s safe to say most employers would have to look favorably on an ex-prisoner’s initiative to get the education and credentialing he or she needs to succeed in that particular job in that particular organization in that particular industry.

If there are closed minds out there, this can only help to open them.

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What’s On CFOs’ Minds These Days?

CFOHow are chief financial officers in North America feeling these days? They’re concerned, but fairly optimistic on matters such as hiring and their company’s growth prospects, according to Deloitte’s latest CFO Signals survey, for the year’s first quarter.

Gyrations within the global economy — particularly China and Europe, along with the strengthening dollar — have the 100 CFOs from North America’s largest companies concerned, yet most feel positive about their company’s prospects for growth this year. Forty eight percent expressed improving optimism while only 14 percent expressed declining optimism.

Domestic hiring expectations among the CFOs rose to 2.4 percent, up from the previous quarter’s 2.1 percent. CFOs in the energy/resources industries are the most optimistic at 4 percent, while manufacturing CFOs have the lowest optimism, at 0.5 percent. Meanwhile,  optimism on offshore hiring rose to 3.1 percent from the previous quarter’s 2 percent.

Shareholder activism is a big concern, with close to three-fourths of the CFOs saying they have experienced some form of shareholder activism. About half said their companies have made at least one major business decision specifically in response to such activism. As noted in this story, some investors are specifically targeting companies’ executive-pay practices — particularly when they feel pay and severance are way out of line with performance and with the median pay received by employees.

Finally, China appears to have definitely lost its luster: Only 18 percent of the CFOs describe China’s economy as good, compared to 34 percent in the last quarter. And only two percent describe Europe’s economy as good — and just 10 percent expect it to improve in the next year.

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Hiring Those with Autism Is Best Help You Can Give

This coming Wednesday, April 1, marks the beginning of National Autism Awareness Month 2015. (And no, this post has absolutely 181426919 -- autism awarenessnothing to do with the fun side of April 1. This post is absolutely serious.)

The following day, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day, in case you need double impetus to give this more than just a passing thought — kind, indifferent or otherwise.

This United Nations site announces the 2015 theme for the World Autism Awareness Day as “Employment: The Autism Advantage.” It cites a surprising (to me) statistic, that more than 80 percent of adults with autism are unemployed.

Which is a shame for employers (maybe even shame on employers), considering this that follows from the U.N.:

“Research suggests that employers are missing out on abilities that people on the autism spectrum have in greater abundance than ‘neurotypical’ [a.k.a., neurologically typical] workers do — such as heightened abilities in pattern recognition and logical reasoning, as well as a greater attention to detail.”

We’ve certainly found similar evidence of special gifts employees with autism can bring to the workplace in features and news stories we’ve published in the near and not-so-near past. This 2013 feature, “Diversity of Thought,” quotes Marcia Scheiner, president and founder of the New York-based Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership, which helps college graduates with autism obtain professional positions.

As she puts it, individuals with autism can demonstrate excellent skills in a variety of areas when given a chance; many are incredibly loyal, tend not to leave their jobs, are detail-oriented and can be tremendously focused, which often leads to high productivity.

This feature, from 2010, “Aspies in the Workplace,” also highlights the gifts autistic workers can bring and the business sense it makes to hire them, as well as the adjustments employers can easily implement to ensure they’re comfortable and allowing those gifts to shine.

More recently, this piece by Mark McGraw from early last year provides proof of the therapeutic value employment brings to those with autism, and some very specific ways employers, and HR, can ensure the “win-win” for all. Clear communication and lots of structure, all three stories indicate, are key.

I’ve heard from experts — and from my oldest son, who teaches autistic high schoolers at a special school outside Philadelphia — that all too often, federal and state funding and services for autistic kids dry up, or at least substantially shrink, once they turn 21. It’s called “Aging Out,” as this piece in the New Jersey Monthly eloquently explains.

Those are the teens my son is teaching, the ones who will — in a few short years — be far more on their own than they are now, just trying to survive in a grueling, grown-up world. Many have great parental support, but parents don’t live forever and money for therapy, services and education doesn’t grow on trees.

For them, getting the chance to prove their value in a work environment that augments that chance has to be the biggest boost imaginable. Such a step toward security would surely quiet their parents’ nightmares as well.

Add to that the boost to the employer — not just in terms of work ethic and productivity, but reputation too — and the goal of turning that 80-percent unemployment figure on its ear becomes a big, beautiful no-brainer.

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SHRM Legal Conference Gets Under Way

You’ve probably heard of the best-selling book What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Well, what about what to expect when your employees are expecting? This was, in fact, the title of a session during the first day of SHRM’s 2015 Employment Law & Legislative Conference this Monday, where employment attorney Courtney Perez reminded a packed room that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has made targeting pregnancy discrimination one of its top enforcement priorities.

“This topic is personal for me,” said Perez, a working mom of two and the expectant mother of a third. As a senior associate at Dallas-based Carter Scholer Arnett Hamada & Mockler, she advises clients regularly on how to avoid discriminating against employees and ending up on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Mothers make up a huge chunk of the workforce: 57 percent of women with children 1 years old or younger hold down jobs outside the home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 62 percent of women who give birth are in the workforce at the time and 40 percent of U.S. households with children younger than 18 have mothers who are the sole or primary breadwinners, she said.

As the number of women in the workforce has grown, so too has the rate of pregnancy discrimination: The number of pregnancy discrimination charges filed with the EEOC went up by 35 percent between 1997 and 2008, said Perez. One of the biggest areas of contention revolves around the topic of light duty for pregnant workers: The Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling soon in Young vs. UPS, in which delivery driver Peggy Young filed suit against the package delivery company after it required her to go on unpaid maternity leave instead of providing her with light duty during her pregnancy. UPS said Young didn’t qualify for a program in which temporarily disabled employees were given light duty until they could resume their regular jobs.

Should the Supreme Court rule in favor of Young, “it may expand the definition of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act,” the 1978 law passed by Congress in response to an earlier Supreme Court ruling that employers who discriminated against pregnant employees were not guilty of sex discrimination, said Perez.

Although pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under the law, the EEOC’s guidelines recommend that employers treat pregnant employees whose condition limits their job abilities the same as other temporarily disabled employees, said Perez.

She recommended a set of best practices for HR to follow, chiefly that HR ensure that a company’s policies and practices related to hiring, promotion and pay do not disadvantage pregnant employees or those who plan to take or have taken maternity leave. And beware the “mommy track,” she said, referring to the practice of steering pregnant employees into less-prestigious, lower-paying jobs.

“That’s the stuff of which discrimination lawsuits are made,” said Perez.

State governments aren’t waiting on the Supreme Court or Congress to give increased protections to pregnant workers, said Jonathan Segal, a partner at Duane Morris in Philadelphia. At least nine states have passed laws that go further than the federal PDA in requiring companies to accommodate pregnant employees, he said, part of a trend in which states are taking a more activist role in workplace matters.

“There may be gridlock at the federal level, but at the state level we’re seeing a lot of action,” said Segal during the session “All Politics is Local: State Law Trends.”

Thirteen states so far (and at least 90 municipalities) have passed so-called “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking job candidates on their initial application whether they’ve ever been convicted of something. Four states have passed laws specifically protecting interns from discrimination and harassment. Twenty one states have passed laws banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 19 of those states also have laws banning gender-identity discrimination.

“With the 2016 election, you can expect to see more ballot initiatives pertaining to paid sick leave, raising the minimum wage, gender identity — more Democratic voters tend to participate in presidential elections than mid-term ones, and these issues resonate with them,” said Segal.

Conservative state lawmakers have also been active: Twenty-two states have passed laws protecting the right of employees to store guns in their cars while they’re at work. A new law proposed in Pennsylvania would even allow employees to store guns on the outside of their vehicles, said Segal. Meanwhile, the number of “right to work” states is at an all-time high of 26, having recently been joined by Wisconsin and Michigan.

All of this poses a special burden for multi-state employers, said Segal, who must comply with a patchwork of regulations across the country.

In some cases, he said, the best approach is to keep it simple. With respect to ban-the-box, it might make sense to simply remove the question from all job application forms, rather than having differing forms for different jurisdictions.

“Does it really make sense to have multiple forms for different states?” asked Segal. “This is an area where we’re certainly going to see more states adopt this rule. It’s one thing that actually attracts support from both Republicans and Democrats.”

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In Search of Quality Job Seekers

successionIt’s not 2010 anymore.

Alan Momeyer, vice president of human resources at Loews Corp., delivered that helpful message to attendees who came to check out yesterday’s “HR Tips and Trends” session at the HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Momeyer, who was accompanied on stage by HR peers from Four Season Hotels & Resorts, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Destination Hotels and Resorts/Lowe Enterprises, and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, was referring to how quality job candidates seek jobs now versus five years ago.

In the past year or so, Loews saw approximately 300,000 job applicants come just from a partnership with indeed.com, the popular employment-related meta-search job engine, according to Momeyer.

“That didn’t just happen. It happened because we paid to be visible,” he said, urging the HR leaders in attendance to get more aggressive in seeking out quality candidates via sites such as Indeed as well as ever-more popular social networking sites.

Momeyer and his colleagues on the panel also stressed the importance of taking a more active role in managing your employment brand online.

For example, panelist Robert Mellwig, senior vice president of really cool people (that’s right) at Destination Hotels and Resorts/Lowe Enterprises, says the organization views employer-review sites such as Glassdoor.com similar to the way its customers look at tripadvisor.com.

According to Momeyer, his introduction to Glassdoor came via his millenial-age daughters.

“When they graduated college and started talking to companies about interviews and job openings, they went straight to Glassdoor to find out more about these companies.”

HR can help the organization have a bigger say in what candidates find when they (inevitably) visit such sites, said Momeyer.

“A lot of times, it’s unhappy employees complaining on these sites,” he said. “You should think about approaching your employees who would have something good to say, to share their reviews.”

Panelist Carolyn Clark, senior vice president of HR at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, “knows how important our external brand is for our guests, and what differentiates our guest experience.”

But, equally as vital, she said, is determining what makes the Fairmont employment experience a positive one for its 45,000 global associates.

To “differentiate our colleague experience, increase our job applicant flow and increase employee engagement, we really want to tell our colleague experience, and [show candidates] what it’s like to work here.”

Doing so requires “fishing where the fish are,” she said, noting that Fairmont has recently undertaken an initiative to “identify [the most used] channels and best candidates, and seek them out and ask them what’s most important to them in their jobs and careers.”

Clark and her HR team have asked the same of current Fairmont employees, surveying associates to find out what attracted them to the company, what has kept them there and what about their jobs makes them happy, she said.

What Clark and company have gleaned from this process is that, above all else, employees (and potential employees) value a connection with their co-workers as well as the organization.

“What we’ve learned from hearing our employees describe their work experience is that they look at their jobs as if they were working with their families.”

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