Canadian Vending

Features Business Staffing
Five key points for hiring

A look at how to hire – and retain – good employees


March 31, 2008
By Cam Wood


Topics

It’s an issue almost every business owner faces – staffing.   “It’s an issue facing large and small enterprises,” says human
resources expert Barb Adams. “And there’s no magic bullet … but there
are a combination of things (that can be done).”

It’s an issue almost every business owner faces – staffing. 
 
“It’s an issue facing large and small enterprises,” says human resources expert Barb Adams. “And there’s no magic bullet … but there are a combination of things (that can be done).”
Adams, who has spent over 25 years in human resources, said there is a real war going on in the market right now, and it’s not just a price war. It’s a war for talent. And the odds heavily favour the employees.

“The number of people available to the market has decreased. As the boomer generation leaves the workforce, there aren’t enough people in the younger generations to fill the jobs.”

What this means for the vending industry is that employees’ expectations have also changed, and employers need to recognize the intricacies of that shift. In addition, the old way of managing people has also shifted, which brought a bit of a power shift to the employee.

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The traditional model of business practice is long gone. Where workers in the boomer generation and up would be willing to put in time and have some loyalty to a company, younger workers will not and do not.

“They have watched their parents’ life, and the lack of work/life balance. They’ve seen divorces and parents not being there for them. And now they’re saying ‘I don’t want that to happen to me.’”

Adams believes that in some situations, employers are trying to fit this new generation into those old molds. What’s worse, she touches on, is that a lot of companies have the mantra of “Our people are important” but continually fail to live up to it.

“So as business people, when we are recruiting, do we have the answers they are looking for?”
Adams brought her insight to the annual Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association’s trade show in Vancouver, and offered five key points that she believes need to be part of the hiring – and retaining – process.

1. Define the job
“Start with saying ‘what do we need.’ Is it the same as before?”

According to Adams, the hiring process needs to be quick. If it takes too long to make a decision, then the person is likely to be no longer available.

Canada is facing a big shortage in the foodservice industry of available labour. It’s estimated that over the next nine years Canada will need another 181,000 workers in foodservice – which includes the vending channel.

“You have to spend some time selling the job. You need to brand your organization,” Adams suggests. True enough, branding is a modern fad, but “it’s not a fad in the way you attract people to your business like you attract your customers.”

2. Define the right person
“It helps to identify what you don’t need.” Start defining the right person by discussing hiring plans with the pizzeria staff and manager.

“You have to consider your own culture,” she says. And will new employees fit into that culture quickly.

3. Potential candidates
“Hiring the wrong people costs a lot of money.” Adams says it’s important to evaluate how professional are your interviews, and how are the potential candidates received.

It’s a very intimidating thing to walk into a business for an interview as an experienced worker, never mind a first-job seeker.

“What image do I have of your business when I walk through the door?”

And if you think you’re going to go the route of a big-box store and hire the retired door-greeter, you better think again. The older employee demographic comes with a substantial shift in what they want out of a job, and the time they are willing to give for employment – not to mention the impact it could have on their Canada Pension Plan.

4. Retention
“As competition increases, more phone calls are coming to your staff,” says Adams.
In a hot market like Alberta, the lure often includes more bling than a Snoop Dogg concert.

“We’ve heard of offers from iPods, to trips to Mexico, tuition … a $3,000 signing bonus at a McDonalds in Edmonton,” says Chris Elliott, economist with the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

It’s very important in this day and age to get to know your employees, she says. If you have an “open door” policy, is it really open?

Adams encourages owners to talk with their staff and ask about what makes them stay with the organization, and what they don’t like.

“It can be scary…but you can’t just go out there and employ the ‘best practices’ if that’s not what your employees want to do.”

5. Create an employee-centered environment
“The trend will have to change from hiring 15 to 25 year olds to fill these jobs,” says Elliott.
With huge competition for them, those in the demographic are enjoying a role most generations before them never could.

“Human resources practices have to get a lot more flexible in the future and it’s going to have to be tailored to the individual,” says Adams.

She quickly adds that it’s important to recognize behaviour that you want repeated, but equally important to consult on things that are incorrect, not punish.

Adams warned that today’s employees generally don’t choose to stay with companies; they choose to stay with managers.

“Things have changed. You have to communicate, and you have to look
at yourself and your management
style.”o