“I Can’t Compete”

Shawnee Love   •  
August 21, 2014

I often hear local businesses complain about losing talent to companies in Alberta and Northern BC.  Employees are resigning (some with zero notice) to go north and the companies they leave are struggling to find replacements and feeling like they just can’t compete.

As a consultant, I have the benefit of working with a variety of companies, and I assure my clients that they definitely can and should compete.  “I Can’t Compete” is defeatist and if you truly believe it, you will prove yourself right.  Once you recognize you can compete, you can take action that will get you in the game.

While on occasion a company will find it truly can’t compete (that’s business after all), the majority of organizations fishing from the same talent pool are in the same boat you are, all struggling to land enough “fish”.

Let’s talk about what action you might take in order to ensure your competitors aren’t winning all the contests for talent:

  1. Look at your compensation.  While I am not suggesting you can afford to top an offer coming out of the oil patch, it is critical to ensure you are offering enough to make it worth someone staying.  Also consider if you are meeting your legal obligations as it relates to stat pay and overtime, and beware of unfair pay practices based on gender, age, etc.
  2. Identify what you offer employees, i.e., your strengths as an employer.  No company is perfect, but every company should have something they offer that an employee might appreciate beyond simply getting paid.
    • Are you super flexible with your staff, allowing them to come and go when they please as long as the work gets done?
    • Do you offer great training opportunities and/or exposure to special types of work, clients, locations, etc., that few others can?
    • Is your workplace fun?
    • Are you family friendly?
    • Do you treat everyone like family?
    • Each of these strengths appeals to someone, but if you didn’t find your company’s strengths in this list, take the time to figure out what yours are.
  3. Promote your strengths to entice candidates who like what you offer.  In fact, go beyond promoting to targeting people who like your strengths.  Figure out where those types of people congregate and ensure your sourcing activities will get your opportunity in front of them.
  4. Avoid hiring people who don’t care about the strengths of your company.  People who don’t care about what you offer will be wooed away by a company offering what they want. And in a really competitive market, you can be sure that companies seeking to poach from you will be promoting what they offer to your people.
  5. Give your people a voice.  If people feel heard, they will bring issues forward giving you a chance to resolve them and in doing so keep them.
  6. Don’t rest on your laurels.  The crash of ’08 and the ensuing employers’ market meant companies got a bit lazy with their employment practices.  The only cure for laziness is getting out there and doing something.

Just compete.