In competing to attract personnel, firms need to take steps to become “an employer of choice,” says human resources professional Paul Juniper, director of the Industrial Relations Centre at Queen’s University.
“In a highly competitive market, such as that for newly graduated engineers, employers should have a plan to attract the best candidates,” he said in an interview following a presentation at the annual summit of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada.
“The best candidates will have a choice. Employers need to consider how to make themselves attractive to prospective employees.”
Juniper, director of the centre since 2006 and the first non-academic to lead the institution, said being an employer of choice means more than simply paying competitive wages.
“Essentially, the employer has to create an attraction based on a combination of salary, benefits, positive and supportive human resources policies and practice and an internal culture that makes the organization a great place to work,” he said.
“Many of the things that an employer can do need not cost a lot of money. Employers need to ask themselves the question ‘why would a high-quality candidate want to work with us, as opposed to one of our competitors.’
“People don’t join companies just because of the salary but rather based on their impressions of the employer and the opportunity that it provides. An employer that highlights the overall “opportunity” that is being offered will be more successful in a competitive market.
“Just as employers look for a ‘fit’ of the employee to the workplace, the candidates are looking for a ‘fit’ with their desires and the expectations of an employer.”
In his summit presentation, entitled “HR best practices for your business,” Juniper also addressed the matter of employee retention. Losing highly qualified staff can be “incredibly expensive” for organizations, he said.
Noting that surveys indicate that “a lack of fit with the boss” is the number 1 reason employees leave, Juniper said training managers on how best to deal with personnel –related matters could pay off in terms of staff retention. Exit interviews are also a good idea, he said.
The summit was held at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort in P.E.I.