Candidates Value Flexibility, Employers Seek Cultural Fit

By Catherine Skrzypinski Apr 10, 2017
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Recruiting potential employees in Canada requires more than the promise of a paycheck, as candidates are seeking perks like flexible hours and the ability to make a positive contribution to the company, HR executives said April 4 at the HR Leaders Summit West 2017.

Staying Refreshed and Healthy

Freshii, a Canadian fast-casual restaurant franchise headquartered in Toronto, attracts a highly engaged Millennial workforce with its unlimited vacation policy. Some managers say they view this perk as the ultimate recruiting tool.

"Freshii's broad philosophy is to treat every employee like they are the CEO of their own position," said Ashley Dalziel, the company's vice president of People Culture. "Freshii's unique structure gives people a lot of responsibility."

She explained that employees can choose when to take time off as long as they manage their workload and plan to stay connected in case something urgent comes up. On average, Dalziel said, Freshii employees take three and a half to four weeks' vacation per year.

"[Freshii] gives flexibility about working remotely," she added. "Since we have the benefit of being a global organization, employees have special perks like visiting a store in a different location and then tacking on a trip. Freshii will then pay for their travel."

TransLink, Vancouver's public transportation network, also offers flexible time off to its fleet of transit operators, support staff, engineers, marketers and customer service employees to support a work/life balance, said Michelle Lewis, director of human resources. "[TransLink's] challenge is to be prudent in the public sector," she added. "We are growing and need to hone our recruiting practices to bring in the best talent."

TransLink employees receive three weeks' vacation each year, as well as the option to buy up to an additional 17 days off or receive a cash equivalent.

Lewis noted that TransLink also promotes corporate health and wellness. "Our staff is involved in sedentary work, so we give them the chance to exercise their bodies at a free gym facility," she said.

Manu Varma, people person at Traction On Demand, a cloud consulting and software development firm based in the Vancouver area, said his company taps into a crowdsourcing approach by asking employees how they want to be paid and rewarded for their work. "They have a choice—whether it is a bonus or more vacation time," he explained.

Varma's role at Traction is to revolutionize traditional HR practices by helping employees achieve work/life balance.

Recruiting for Cultural Fit

HR leaders on the panel said their ideal candidate has a blend of desired skills and can fit in well with the company's culture.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Recruiting Internally and Externally]

Dalziel said Freshii is looking for people who will mesh with the company's culture, and, the management team commits to treating both its candidates and employees with respect. "My vision is that every Freshii employee feels they can achieve their personal, business, financial and philosophical goals in one place, here at Freshii," she continued.

Varma said Traction is seeking candidates whose beliefs and behaviors are in alignment with the company's culture, as well as those who have an aptitude for technology. "I can't teach humility. I can't teach work ethic or intelligence. But I can sure as hell teach talent how to code and write JavaScript," he said.

Varma said Traction's application process starts with an applicant answering a number of questions, including:

  • What drives you crazy?
  • What's the most reckless thing you've done in the past five years?
  • What's your pet peeve?

All applicants who answer the questions are contacted and invited to interview with the company in a series of phone and face-to-face conversations, he said. "We get around 400 applicants a month. Our success rate is around one out of 20 applicants."

Catherine Skrzypinski is a freelance writer in Vancouver.

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