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What Works: Find & Keep Great Employees

SLIDE 1/SLIDE 2 (Katie):

Hello and welcome to the What Works webinar series, hosted by Workforce WindsorEssex.

My name is Katie Renaud, and I’m joined by my colleague, Corey Shenken. This episode of the webinar series is called, “What Works: Find & Keep Great Employees.”

We’ll be focusing on one of our Local Employment Council Projects: Small Business Recruitment and Retention Guide. We’re going to walk you through the different sections of this guide and will show you how to best use this guide as an employer who is looking to recruit and retain great talent in Windsor-Essex.

During this webinar, please do not hesitate to ask questions by typing your question into the side bar on the top right of your screen. We will attempt to answer your questions throughout the duration of the webinar, or will answer them as soon as we have finished.

You will also find downloadable content in the same toolbar. These downloads include some documents that we will be covering in today’s webinar. I will now turn to Corey to get us started.

SLIDE 3 (Corey):


At Workforce WindsorEssex our mandate is to plan, facilitate, and advocate for regional workforce development, defined as the development, retention, and recruitment of a wide range of skilled workers to meet the current and future economic and social development needs of Windsor-Essex.

SLIDE 4 (Corey):

The Guide for Recruitment and Retention for Small Business in Windsor-Essex was developed to help small businesses think about how they are finding and retaining talent in Windsor-Essex.

Small businesses are those with less than 100 employees and make up the majority of the business landscape in Windsor-Essex. While this guide is aimed at small businesses, most of the information still applies to medium and large-sized businesses, as well.

Much of the information in this guide responds to recruitment and retention issues gathered from over 100 businesses during consultations carried out in the summers of 2016 and 2017. The guide also contains best practices for hiring and retention from these businesses.

We will now run through the different sections of the guide in order to provide you with some recruitment and retention tips for finding and keeping great employees in Windsor-Essex.

SLIDE 5 (Katie):

The first section of the report is dedicated to tips for recruitment for small businesses.

One of the first questions we asked to employers was, “How are you recruiting?

This was an open-ended question, and we found employers used a mix of the following to recruit:

  • online job boards,
  • networking/word of mouth/referrals,
  • company website,
  • social media,
  • staffing agency,
  • directly from university/college,
  • employment Ontario service providers,
  • experiential learning,
  • newspaper, and
  • job fairs.

These methods can all benefit your recruiting, so we’ll go through and quickly highlight what the benefit of using each is.

The most popular method for small businesses to recruit employees was online job boards, such as Indeed or Monster. Posting a job opportunity on one of these online boards is a simple way to quickly reach a wide audience. Also, this is the most popular way jobseekers will look for a job.

The next most popular method for small to recruit was using networking or word of mouth referrals. This is a popular method since people care about their reputation, and they’ll typically only refer people they know will do well in the role and the workplace, which means great hiring potential for employers.

Posting on your company website is beneficial since it means that a jobseeker is surfing your website, and therefore most likely already has an interest in your company.

Social media makes it easier to reach a wide audience. Also, with targeted ads, you can narrow your audience to suit a particular position.

A staffing agency may be able to hire employees when there is a large gap in employment and many employees need to be onboarded. This method will also save you from employing your own recruiter or using a large amount of your own resources to search for employees.

Making connections with professors at post-secondary education institutions may allow you to snap up the best talent as soon as it becomes available.

Employment Ontario allows employers to delegate part of the screening process while simultaneously widening the pool of talent they are searching for.

*Corey provides walk-through of website to show attendees how to use WEsearch*

*Corey provides walk-through of website to show attendees how to sign up for WEjobs*


Post-secondary placements, such as co-ops, allow you to give an employee a “test run” and figure out if their skills are suitable for the position you need to fill.

Then there’s newspapers. People still read them! 8 in 10 Canadians still read newspapers so this is actually an effective way to reach people in the community.

Job fairs allow the candidates to come to you. You are able to meet candidates face-to-face and this can allow for impromptu interviews on the spot.

*Corey provides walk-through of website to show attendees how to access Job Fair Guide for Employers*


If you’re looking for quantity, businesses say look to online job boards. If you want quality? Businesses say it’s networking and word of mouth that are the best options.

SLIDE 6 (Corey):

It’s helpful to have a good understanding of the different groups in our community you might not normally think to hire, and the potential benefits of each type of individual. Let’s look at a few of these groups.

  • First, we have newcomers.
    • 48% of employers surveyed who indicated they hired newcomers were impressed with their technical skills and work experience, while 48% mentioned their work ethic.
    • Others mentioned that newcomers were culturally competent and their language skills often help the business garner customers from a wider range of cultural communities.
  • Another group is students
    • Students offer new perspectives, technology integration, and tend to be loyal.
    • Students are our future workforce.
    • Many school programs even have experiential learning opportunities built into their programs to allow students and employers a better chance at a working relationship.
    • Students also bring a new perspective and may have innovative approaches to solving problems, integrate technology into daily operations, or spend dedicated time fixing a problem.
  • Recent graduates
    • Are often similar to students, are willing to put their knowledge into practice, and are eager to put their skills to work.
    • They are a group motivated to apply theories and textbook knowledge into real world practice.
  • A fourth group is retirees
    • Retirees possess many years of experience, mentorship qualities, and flexibility. Consider these values when training new hires or looking to develop a career progression plan.
    • Retirees can be great mentors in the workplace.
  • Last but not least, persons with disabilities
    • Many of whom possess a post-secondary degree, are reliable, and possess a 72% higher retention rate than other types of employees.

Being aware of these different groups can help you widen your pool of candidates.

SLIDE 7 (Corey):

We at Workforce WindsorEssex strongly believe in experiential learning opportunities and the benefits they provide for both employers and employees. This is another great way to locate talent and perhaps give the individual a “test-run” to see if they are suitable for a position in your company.

As such, the next section in our small business recruitment and retention guide asked employers if they were providing any experiential learning opportunities.

Offering experiential learning opportunities allows these businesses to have access to talent before others, be flexible, be more helpful at peak periods, offers a fresh outlook, and employers will now have a better understanding of what to expect from an employee in an experiential learning position.

There are many different forms of experiential learning that employers can offer, such as:

  • apprenticeships,
  • career presentations,
  • high school co-op,
  • internship placements,
  • job shadowing,
  • mentorships,
  • post-secondary co-op,
  • tours, and
  • volunteer placements.

Very importantly, experiential learning opportunities give small businesses the chance to get prospective employees inside their doors and working for them. In a climate where 70% of small businesses have trouble recruiting, experiential learning is a great solution. I did an internship with Workforce WindsorEssex through my master’s program at school, and look at me now!

*Corey provides walk-through of website to show attendees how to access Experiential Learning Hub and the guide for employers*

SLIDE 8 (Katie):

What about the job posting itself? This is one of the most important recruitment tools you possess. This is the chance for you to catch the eye of talent you are searching for.

Something to consider is how would you attract someone to your job?

There is a short list of important questions that should be able to be answered by simply reading a job posting. These questions include:

  • What would I be doing?
  • What do I need to have to get hired?
  • What should I have to get hired?
  • How will I be compensated?
  • When and how often will I be working?
  • Will I get any perks?
  • What will it be like to work here?
  • Is there room to grow here?

Start by developing a CLEAR job description. Nobody wants ambiguity about a potential career. They want to know exactly what they are going to be doing. For example, a posting on Kijiji that reads, “Looking for desk technician with 1-3 years of experience” gives no description of what people will be doing day-to-day and what specific skills they need to qualify for the job.

It is also a great idea to make a clear distinction between assets and requirements. Does somebody necessarily need a Master’s degree to obtain the position, or is it just an asset? This method will help you narrow your candidates who have all the necessities for the job, but may not have all the assets suggested.

Provide answers to questions before even meeting a candidate for the position. This will help narrow down the candidates even before the potential interview process so that you know you are attracting somebody who wants the specific job.

Describe the compensation, perks, and workplace culture. Is your office flexible with hours that can be worked, do you offer benefits? People want to know this information before applying to jobs. This will avoid somebody leaving an interview process disappointed because they wanted more than you were able to compensate.

Finally, post the job. Use any of the methods mentioned earlier, they all have their specific benefits. Find the one that works best for you. Just make sure the application process isn’t too tedious. This may turn away some job seekers who were once interested in the job.

SLIDE 9 (Katie):

After an employer has posted a job posting and has received interest from their desired amount of candidates, the next step in the recruitment process is the interview.

Our guide suggests a planned-out approach to interviewing candidates. It is not only important to the business to be sure they are conducting a proper interview, but it shows the candidates that the business is serious about this specific hire if the interview process is organized beforehand and goes smoothly and according to plans.

Step 1: Prepare Your questions.

  • For example, will you have open-ended questions or structured? Maybe a mixture of both? Will you question based on culture or with more of a focus on skills? Creating questions beforehand will allow you to gain a better understanding of the employee in the areas you wish to know the most.

Step 2: Decide on a Process.

  • For example, are you going to interview over the phone, in–person, or by video chat? How many stages will the interview have? This planning also allows for a cleaner interview process. For example, if you know your interviews will be held over two stages, you can potentially save some more detailed questions for a second round, once you are surer of the candidates still available and have “weeded out” the first round of interviewees.

Step 3: Involve the Team.

  • It is always a good idea to give your team members a say. They may have a perspective you have not thought about before that could add value to the interview process and they will have to work with the new hire.

Step 4: Get creative.

  • For example, set up a small tour of your business during the interview, or provide the interviewee with a ‘day in the life’ of an employee at your business. This will allow the interviewee to have a deeper understanding of what goes on at your business and may allow for them to decide more accurately if they are a fit for your company. Techniques like these will allow employers to find the perfect fit!

Step 5: Be timely and follow up.

  • It is always a good idea to check in with your employees throughout the interview process. This can be very helpful in the fact that employers can gauge prospective employees along the interview process. Does the employee seem more excited after the interview? That’s a good sign! It is also important to follow-up with ALL candidates. They may suit another position in the future, and you want them to have a positive view of your business.

Planning the interview process ahead of time is important to ensure it goes smoothly and the candidate sees how professional the job they are applying for really is. A poor interview will not go over well with a candidate, and may change their mind whether or not they want to accept a job with your company.

SLIDE 10 (Corey):

After the interview process and after a new candidate has been chosen, the next step for the employer is the onboarding of the employee. It is common for a first day employee to be nervous or not feel entirely comfortable, so it is important for the employer to do as much as possible to ease the employee into their new position.

One effective way to do so is to include important details about their job in a contract. This contract should include:

  • Their job description,
  • Job duties,
  • Compensation, and
  • Legal details (such as non-compete, non-disclosure, and termination clauses, etc).

This way, employees will know what is expected of them right away, without having to guess.

Another effective way to ensure a new employee is settling in more comfortably on their first day is to provide them with an orientation. This could consist of a single or a combination of any of the following techniques:

  • Conversation,
  • guide,
  • videos,
  • making introductions (such as to co-workers, customers, and key contacts),
  • pairing the new hire with a mentor, and/or
  • providing the new employee with a workstation and training.

A great example of a local practice that helps new employees on their first day is seen at Radix Inc. They provide their new employees with a box of cookies on their first day, to encourage other employees to stop by, grab a cookie, and introduce themselves.

SLIDE 11 (Corey):

It is a good idea for small businesses to be constantly monitoring and referring to labour market information to strengthen their business. This would be the use of data such as:

  • industry trends,
  • demographics, and
  • labour supply/demand.

Labour market information, also known as LMI, is information about the jobs in any location. LMI includes information about:

  • jobs that are available in certain locations or sectors,
  • salaries,
  • employers that are hiring/laying off,
  • working conditions,
  • what employers are looking for
  • job areas that likely will grow or shrink
  • unemployment rates
  • the education/training needed for certain jobs or sectors, and/or
  • information about the people who are working in a location or sector

Getting a better understanding of the labour market characteristics of their community will allow businesses to more effectively target employee candidates, compensate their employees according to community “standards,” and keep their employees happy and be able to retain their talents.

Please follow along with the following case study that provides an example of how small businesses in Windsor-Essex can use labour market information: Gregg Greenhouses, located in Leamington, has 80 employees, including 3 IT staff. They generally have a good retention rate, but they often experience turnover with their IT staff and struggle to fill the positions when they post them again.

They currently pay their Network Technician $18.50/hr and pay their two Business Analysts $17/hr and $21/hr, one of which has 2 years of experience and the other 7 years of experience. Wondering whether wage is affecting their retention rate and ability to hire for these positions, they contact Workforce WindsorEssex and are provided with the following wage information for the Leamington area.

Looking at this table, they determine they should be paying their Network Technian at least $20.44/hr to be competitive in Leamington, if not more. Additionally, they decide to increase the wage of their less-experienced Business Analyst to $25/hr and that of their more experienced Analyst to $36/hour. Furthermore, they create a plan to increase their IT staff’s wages incrementally, according to the percentile information in the future.

This is an example of how small businesses can improve their employee relations simply by contacting Workforce WindsorEssex to make a quick inquiry. They were able to realize they were underpaying their employees and fixed the issue as a result.

Another example of how small business can use LMI to help themselves is learning about labour supply and industry trends.

For example, do you know how many people are graduating from a program you pull candidates from? Is an occupation you’re hiring for considered, “hard-to-fill?” Is the industry’s workforce projected to grow or shrink in the future? Do you need to hire someone with a post-secondary education?

Answers to questions like these will help you prepare to hire and retain employees more effectively from the available labour force.

Data requests are available on our website if somebody wants to know specific LMI.

*Corey provides walk-through of how of website on how to access a data request*

SLIDE 12 (Katie):

Once an employee is recruited and has settled in as part of them team, it is important that small businesses are aware of methods in which to retain these employees and making sure they are content every day with issues such as diversity of work, team environment, and working hour flexibility.

It is important that an employer supports their team. They must ensure that their employees are given the right tools and environment to succeed. Some helpful tips would be:

  • Providing them with a neat workspace, (have a regular cleaning schedule or service in place to ensure this)
  • Providing a comfortable workplace (ask employees simple questions like if their chair is comfortable, if the lights are too bright, etc. and make the necessary adjustments)
  • Consider if employees are able to focus on their work (is the office too noisy or perhaps too hot or cold? This may lower productivity)
  • Allowing feedback and input from all employees on a regular basis (not just telling them what to do all the time and not listening to them), and
  • Setting clear expectations and goals for your team to achieve so they are not confused at what they are supposed to do


SLIDE 13 (Corey):

Going above and beyond for your employees is also certainly something they will recognize and appreciate. Some ways you can offer perks to your employees are as follows:

  • Options to telecommute to work, meetings, conferences, etc. at times,
  • Flexible work hours, (like giving employees options to work 10-6 some days instead of 9-5.)
    • If you have the ability to let employees make their own schedules and you trust them doing this, you will reap the benefits
  • Performance bonuses (you should be giving employees rewards, such as yearly salary bonuses for meeting exemplary sales numbers)
  • Free snacks in the workplace (This means less time for employees going on coffee and snack runs),
  • A games room in the workplace (this gives employees a chance to unwind on breaks), and
  • a relaxed dress code, which may allow employees not to have to, “break the bank” looking for the perfect work attire.

A great example of a local practice is seen at iDream Interactive. The team works a four day work week every other week by working an extra hour Monday-Thursday each week.

Offering perks to your employees results in a 32% decrease in absenteeism, and a 26% increase in productivity.

SLIDE 14 (Katie):

Another extremely important factor in the retention of employees is creating and fostering a positive team environment.

A 2014 Globoforce study showed 62% of employees with one to five work friends said they would a reject a job offer from another employer. Almost 50% of the same respondents said they love their company, compared to only 24% with no workplace friends. Foster friendships, foster retention.

Some examples of this are as follows:

  • having a welcoming committee for new employees, setting up their workstation for them, or giving them welcome merchandise are all ways to get new employees into the team spirit,
  • bringing in a meal (potluck) and enjoying eating together,
  • volunteering for opportunities as a team
    • help build a great community while building your team,
  • Getting out of the office for team events, and
  • Holding staff meetings that include ALL staff.
    • This ensures that everyone has a chance to participate and collaborate as a team.

A local example of fostering a good team environment is used at Brave Control Solutions. The company gives $200 towards a social activity if 5+ people sign up to do it.

SLIDE 15 (Corey):

Employers should also ALWAYS be investing in their employees, just as their employees are constantly investing time for them. You should always be trying to grow and build the capabilities of your employees so that they are not feeling “stuck” in a “dead-end” position, with no room to grow. Some examples of investing in employees are as follows:

  • Cross training employees (preparing them for multiple roles and allowing a better understanding of the entire business)
    • This is useful for filling in for unexpected (or expected) prolonged absences
  • Paying a living wage (This substantially decreases their financial and emotional stress),
  • Providing benefits (such as, health benefits, paid time off, retirement, etc),
    • This will lead to less absenteeism in the office
  • Offer paid time off (striking a healthy work and life balance is critical for employees’ productivity levels, and this can also help with other things like not spreading a cough through the office!)
  • Succession planning (letting them know there is room for them to grow), and
  • Continuous learning
    • Help your employees help you.
      • You can offer workshops, online training, massive open online courses through platforms like EdX or Udacity, tuition reimbursement, and conferences as ways to ensure your employees feel they are supported by your business to advance personally and professionally.
    • Provide your employees with the tools for success.
      • For example, do your employees need a uniform? Purchase your employees their uniforms so they can focus on the work at hand and not worry about buying the correct clothing for work.
    • A good idea may to also be to implement a workplace wellness program.

SLIDE 16 (Corey):

You also want to ensure that your employees feel valued and included. It is important that employers hear and recognize their employees. Some examples of making sure you hear your employees are as follows:

  • Letting them pitch ideas (they’re on the ground, they know the details)
    • The best ideas could come (and usually do come) from your employees.
  • Ensure your employees know what is expected of them
    • Consider sending weekly priorities emails to employees or using a project management tool like Basecamp
  • Survey your employees (and make improvements based on the feedback),
  • Recognize awesome employees (use awards and rewards, and praise your employees), and
  • Forming an employee committee (nip issues in the bud before they become bigger problems)

A form of this practice is seen locally at Hawkins & Co. Accounting. Each Monday, the team holds an innovation meeting to brainstorm how to solve one problem, big or small.

SLIDE 17 (Katie):

Teambuilding is another activity that can help with employee retention. It is important to build social cohesion amongst your employees and enable employees to work better together. Some examples of team building opportunities/activities include: (Katie provides brief explanations of each activity in webinar recording)

  • Pottery and Palettes,
  • Corporate Challenge,
  • Silver Tee Golf and Virtual Gaming Centre,
  • Pick Your Plate,
  • The Twisted Apron,
  • Organizing a ‘food adventure’,
  • Point Pelee, and
  • Urban Surf Co.

Brave Control Solutions rented out a movie theatre for employees and their families to watch the latest Star Wars movie for free on opening night. This is a great example of a local teambuilding activity.

SLIDE 18 (Corey):

This brings us to the end of our webinar on our small business recruitment and retention guide.

You will receive a survey prompt once we have ended the broadcast. This is a short, three question survey that we would like you to complete so that we have information that can help us improve our future webinars.

Also, please do not hesitate to contact us to find out more about our additional community resources, such as our Job fair guide for employers, experiential learning guide for employers, wesearch tool, and weskills/wejobs.

We also have a partnership with the Small Business Centre at the University of Windsor and they offer the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Hiring Employees and other service and information. We can put you in contact with one of our many partners in employment services, which offer services to aid in the recruitment of employees, or put you in touch with the Canada Business Network and their helpful program search.”

Again, this brings us to the end of our What Works: Find and Keep Great Employees webinar. Our next webinar is What Works: Teaching Tomorrow’s Workforce and will take place from 3:00-4:00 pm, tomorrow. This webinar is targeted at educators.

We hope you enjoyed today’s webinar, thanks for attending, and we hope you have a great rest of your day.