Domestic relocations need prep work too

Overcoming misconceptions, changing expectations all part of process when moving employees
By Chris Campitelli
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/10/2012

As the landscape of the Canadian economy continues to evolve and become more competitive, the need for organizations to identify, attract and retain top talent has never been more critical.

A rising trend among employers in talent-scarce markets is to seek potential employees from neighbouring provinces.

However, the process of securing employees for permanent, project-based or seasonal roles who will relocate to another province can be extremely difficult and expensive for an employer if not executed carefully, so there are a few tips to keep in mind.

The majority of candidates being targeted in provinces far removed from a potential employer will not have a clear understanding of what to expect once relocated. Much like our neighbours to the south who pass around stories of igloos and dog sleds, many potential candidates have misunderstandings about the lifestyles in other provinces because of third-hand stories from friends or misinformation on the Internet.

For example, Western Canadian oilsands positions are often perceived by Ontario-based candidates as Fort McMurray, Alta.-style camp jobs.

It is extremely important for employers to paint not only an accurate picture of the organization and position but to address any confusion or misperceptions surrounding the lifestyle.

Be flexible about expectations

In order to separate qualified candidates from unqualified candidates, organizations form a list of preferred or ideal education, certifications and experience requirements, thereby generating a screening system for each new applicant. When looking to assess candidates from another province, this profile of the ideal candidate must be altered slightly.

Typically, the educational requirements or certifications component remains unchanged but, from the perspective of experience, it must be understood the preferred industries to draw from in one province may have very small markets in another. Employers that remain inflexible when considering talent with experience from a variety of industries may be indirectly overlooking exceptional candidates.

Employers should consider placing an increased emphasis on candidates’ core competencies versus looking exclusively at their industry experience.

Streamline onboarding process

Organizations that successfully negotiate a commitment for relocation face another considerable challenge — the onboarding process. Feedback from numerous national and global organizations in Western Canada has indicated most of their inter-provincial candidate turnover occurs within the first 90 days.

Small and seemingly insignificant challenges or issues have an exponentially larger impact on relocated employees and their families during those first 90 days. And the knee-jerk response most commonly seen is the employee returning to her home province.

In light of this, employers need to have a methodical onboarding framework for any inter-provincial candidates to ensure this period is mapped out clearly. What happens when the candidates arrive in their new province? If they have problems, how are they managed? What support systems have been put in place? Has the training calendar been clearly communicated? Has a community tour been organized? Have regular checkpoint meetings been scheduled? Is all of the new employees’ technology available and functioning?

Reduce risks and costs

Relocating to another province, regardless of whether a person is single or bringing a family, is an expensive and potentially risky undertaking. Dismantling your life in one province and reassembling it in another comes with a great deal of uncertainty that could keep candidates from engaging with would-be employers.

Organizations that plan to make this event less financially taxing and a little more risk-free will have greater success. Pre-paid plane tickets, gas cards, bus tickets or train tickets will add a great deal of value to any employer’s compensation or relocation package.

For those looking to really stand out from the competition, a temporary housing arrangement will always signal to top talent the employer is committed, as does a local vehicle for temporary use and a signing bonuses.

Build a local brand

Many organizations believe they can show up in a city, rent a hotel conference room, spend some advertising dollars on radio, newspaper and web advertising and expect to see top talent walking in the door, ready to relocate. This is not the case. Inter-provincial talent recruiting is all about trust. Blasting in and out of town for mass recruits does not cascade any sense of trust or build credibility with potential employees. An organization’s accomplishments in another province ring a little less loudly in an area where those achievements or milestones were not experienced.

A much better approach is to make time and become involved in associations or charitable and community events on a more frequent basis than during trips meant exclusively for recruiting. Building a local brand is a long-term solution, but an essential one if there’s a need for continued access to talent.

Hire a staffing vendor

An inter-provincial recruiting initiative will benefit from a staffing vendor that is local to the province from which the employer is trying to source talent. But make sure the staffing firm has the expertise and a specialized industry focus, along with a proven success rate in inter-provincial relocations. Employers should also be wary of staffing vendors that charge candidates fees for access to potential employment opportunities.

The Canadian talent crunch continues to create challenges for businesses and has a larger, real world impact on the bottom line with each passing fiscal year. Inter-provincial talent relocation will need to become a standard component of an organization’s recruiting plan to remain strongly positioned within the marketplace. With good planning and a commitment to a stellar candidate, inter-provincial talent relocation is a sustainable, long-term solution that gives employers access to the talented individuals they require to succeed.

Chris Campitelli is CEO of the Talent Group Canada in Toronto. He can be reached at (888) 303-4463 ext. 101 or chrisc@thetalentgroup.ca. For more information, visit www.thetalentgroup.ca.

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