Forecasts indicate job boom to continue

The recent government of Alberta’s monthly economic review (March 2013) reported that the unemployment rate in Alberta has remained virtually unchanged since the beginning of the year, hovering in the range of 4.5 per cent. Compared to the national average of 1.9 per cent, employment opportunities actually rose by 2.5 per cent in this province.

The recent government of Alberta’s monthly economic review (March 2013) reported that the unemployment rate in Alberta has remained virtually unchanged since the beginning of the year, hovering in the range of 4.5 per cent.

Compared to the national average of 1.9 per cent, employment opportunities actually rose by 2.5 per cent in this province.

Labour market statistics look at how many people are not working.

However, the number of available job postings offers the other half of the labour market picture.

According to Statistics Canada, there were approximately 46,600 vacant job postings in Alberta over the three-month period (December to February).

This indicates 2.4 per cent of the total market, which is slightly higher than the national average.

All forecasts indicate that the employment “boom” will continue in Alberta well into 2014.

At the recent Central Alberta Job Fair, approximately 1,710 job seekers had the opportunity to converse with 102 employers. Several of the companies I visited with generally thought the prospects were better qualified and more prepared. Many businesses had high expectations that they would be hiring for key positions.

The resources devoted to attracting and hiring employees can be substantial. Taking the time to develop a quality screening process is critical to ensure companies obtain the right applicants and the best fit for the job.

What is equally important and essential to a successful hire is the orientation a new hire receives to your business in the first 90 days of employment.

Turnover can be upwards of 30 per cent in those first three months. If the fit is right, and the orientation handled properly, a long-term relationship is predictable. If not, you will find yourself repeating the hiring cycle.

Through my years working with a variety of businesses, I’ve found that many have a very minimal or no orientation systems in place.

A basic introduction to the company and run through of roles and processes is often standard.

It’s important to develop a structured orientation process specific to your business, including a comprehensive checklist to ensure nothing is overlooked.

Reviewing job descriptions and a company’s organization structure in minute detail can be quite overwhelming in the first few days. A new employee needs to know what they do, but also what the people around them do in the overall scope of the business to know what results are expected.

In the first month, brief meetings scheduled with supervisors/managers can create a forum for open dialogue and will flag issues early on.

Assign a mentor or a partner. Not only will this assist the new hire to become more familiar with the company values, it will help them adjust to the culture.

Regularly scheduled check-ins should continue through the second month to review progress and gather feedback. Introduce a more detailed work plan and including outcomes that will influence both personal and company performance expectations.

By the third month, begin to review objectives in terms of regular 90-day planning. Encourage individuals to develop and align their personal objectives with the business/corporate goals. Present the value of a win-win relationship.

In most cases, a new hire will be someone born after 1977, namely generation Y. This generation is looking for progressive companies that offer personal opportunities plus ongoing training.

While gen-Xers (born between 1965 and 1977) think change is important, gen-Ys are passionate about it. They count on consistent feedback and expect immediate recognition for jobs well done.

Implementing opportunities that this generation value requires significant rethinking and retooling. In some cases, this includes how employees are managed and rewarded.

Gen-Xers look for opportunities to trade their skills and creativity for some measure of job security. More important to them is the value the workplace offers when they are rewarded with learning opportunities, creative challenges and productive relationships.

Be mindful of that all-important three-month mark. This is critical, especially if a probationary period is required, but is also significant in order to continue quarterly planning.

Careful planning and attentive management during those first 90 days assist new employees to integrate into the new environment, and will help your company avoid the turnover trap.

ActionCoach is written by John MacKenzie of ActionCoach, which helps small- to medium-sized businesses and other organizations. He can be contacted at johnmackenzie@actioncoach.com or by phone at 403-340-0880.