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Eight retention strategies

Losing workers to Alberta’s oil patch? Try one of these obvious, possibly wacky and workable


January 8, 2015
By Henry Goldbeck

Topics

First — and of course you already know this — there isn’t going to be a
cost-free solution. When managers, engineers and skilled professionals
can make double their salaries in Alberta’s oil patch or small towns in
Saskatchewan [or whichever region you may be competing with for
recruits].

First — and of course you already know this — there isn’t going to be a cost-free solution. When managers, engineers and skilled professionals can make double their salaries in Alberta’s oil patch or small towns in Saskatchewan [or whichever region you may be competing with for recruits].

To retain and recruit good people, we’re going to have to get really creative and outright invest in ways to keep them.

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With that in mind, here are eight strategies:

1. Apply for pre-approved Labour Market Opinions (LMO) and recruit internationals:

a. Problem: Usually the process for hiring an international candidate is to recruit a person and then get an LMO. Once you have an LMO, then you can apply for the relevant work permits, but the length of time from recruiting to LMO to work permits can lower the chances of successfully closing your hire.

b. Solution: However, a new process has emerged in the last couple of years. Now, you can get an LMO pre-approved and then go find your candidates. That gives you a six- to nine-month window before the LMO expires in which to find candidates, and you can get an LMO approved that allows you to hire several candidates at once. (You’ll need an individual LMO for each trade, however.)

2. Retention bonuses: Many companies in high-competition places like Fort McMurray offer a retention bonus every 18 months, usually for something like $15,000. You could do that for your employees here. Put an 18- or 24- or 36-month retention bonus in place and employees will have an additional incentive to stay. No one likes to leave a potential bonus on the table.

3. Employee referral bonuses: Consider an employee referral bonus program for employees and even former employees who refer new employees to your company. (Something like a $1K bonus when a referred new employee begins and another $2K if they are still there after a year might work.)

4. Shifts / job-sharing of absences: Institute a company policy that allows workers to leave in shifts for temporary placements in places like Fort McMurray. Something like this: from January to June, Joe can leave. When he gets back in June, Mary can leave your company until December. That way your employees can take lucrative short-term opportunities but you’ve always got coverage and you don’t lose your people permanently.

5. Sabbaticals / job guarantees: Every two or three years, an employee earns the right to leave for one year and come back to his or her same job, guaranteed. Alternately, if someone quits, tell them you’ll hold their job for 18 months or even indefinitely.

6. Invest in apprenticeships and co-ops: If the candidate pipeline is too narrow, make it bigger. Recruit three or four apprentices for every one tradesperson you anticipate losing and several co-op students in key professions.

7. Recruit in the other regions, but market the move as “make B.C./Ontario/Nova Scotia your home.” Highlight your region’s lifestyle.

8. Build a national network of recruiters: Find recruiters and recruiting agencies who specialize in trades. Make sure they know about you even if you haven’t placed a job with them: if they do find a candidate you might be interested in, they will give you the option to create an opening and recruit their candidate.

I hope at least one of these strategies helps you out.


Henry E. Goldbeck, president and founder of Goldbeck Recruiting Inc., is a Certified Personnel Consultant with over 24 years’ recruiting experience across various industries. He may be reached through www.goldbeck.com


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