Tuning into TV’s recruitment reach

Commercials brand companies as employers of choice

A young woman moves seamlessly from serving coffee at Tim Hortons to visiting a doctor to graduating from college to playing soccer and back to work at the doughnut shop. Tim Hortons is using the visual medium of television to illustrate its total rewards package of health benefits, scholarship opportunities and flexible hours.

Putting it all together required a co-operative effort between corporate human resources, the HR field services team, which works directly with the store owners, and the marketing department, said Nan Oldroyd, director of human resources at Tim Hortons.

“The messages were really around the tag line ‘Imagine a job that fits your life’ to show we’re a unique, flexible employer,” she said

Using television ads to recruit isn’t new for the Oakville, Ont.-based coffee and doughnut chain that employs 1,400 people in regional offices and has another 83,000 staff in its stores. The company has been using television for recruitment since 2001 and has always focused on being an employer of choice, said Diane Slopek-Weber, director of corporate communications at Tim Hortons.

“The reach is very large with TV. We’ve been doing the recruitment campaigns in the fall for quite a few years now,” she said, adding that the commercials have been built into the company’s annual advertising budget.

Individual store owners have told Oldroyd that not only do the ads bring in more applicants, but by positioning itself as an employer of choice the stores also attract higher quality applicants.

“That push on recruitment is definitely worthwhile,” said Slopek-Weber.

While the commercials have been a powerful recruitment tool, they also serve to brand Tim Hortons as a good employer, which can also inspire customer loyalty and thus increase profits.

“It’s important that we’re showing consistency in positioning Tim Hortons as an employer of choice in the community,” said Oldroyd. “It’s important we invest in the commercials to help support our store owners.”

In an interview with Canadian HR Reporter last year, Gabriel Bouchard, the vice-president and general manager of online job board Monster.ca, said television ads are very expensive but can work well for large retail chains that are recruiting thousands of lower-skilled workers. But it’s not just corporate giants that are tuning to television.

After a re-branding and being named by Macleans as one of the top 100 companies in Canada, a Winnipeg credit union has been using television ads since February to promote itself as an employer of choice to customers and potential employees.

“It’s expensive, but I think it’s worth it. It’s far more memorable than anything we’ve done,” said Michelle Manary, the vice-president of human resources at Assiniboine Credit Union, which employs 255 staff. “At the same time, you tend to attract a quality of candidate that’s worth your money.”

Manary is featured in one of the credit union’s four commercials, which each cost about $15,000 to produce and all feature employees in an interview-type setting. The ad was filmed at her home and even included her eight-year-old twins.

“The general theme of it was that as a top 100 employer in Canada, we attract the best talent so we get the right people to work for us to make a difference for our members,” she said. “I wanted people to know what kind of employer Assiniboine Credit Union was, that they’re a very caring employer, one that is very family friendly.”

People come to work because the want to feel connected to what they do, she said. Often traditional recruiting just focuses on the job and the skills needed to do the job, but all four commercials showed employees doing jobs they’re passionate about and they show a level of pride that makes the company appealing to potential recruits, said Manary.

The ads highlighted aspects of the credit union that make it unique, such as the fact that it’s an employer of choice and that the credit union opened an inner-city branch while other banks have moved out of the inner city.

“Our intention was to help people understand why we’re a distinct company,” said Randa Stewart, the credit union’s vice president of marketing. “We were busily being different, but not telling anybody about it.”

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