CEO Blog

Category Archives: Staffing

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to staffing and recruitment.

Develop Your Curiosity

Curiosity quote by EinsteinWikipedia describes curiosity as: (from Latin curiosus “careful, diligent, curious,” akin to cura “care”) is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in human and animal species. Curiosity is heavily associated with all aspects of human development, in which derives the process of learning and desire to acquire knowledge and skill.

I would suggest that curiosity is an under-rated trait that is present in almost any successful person that I know!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”  Voltaire

This is one “skill” that can be developed … and can be hugely useful in both your career and your personal life.

For example, it is a strongly held belief that great leaders do not accept the “status quo”.  They are continually looking for ways to get better, to improve the process, to reduce the costs and to be more efficient.  A great way to do that is to be curious, and to truly understand why things are the way they are, because when you understand it well you have a decent chance of improving it!

“It is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree

Let’s talk about relationships, both business and personal.  The number one way to start a relationship is to be curious about the other person!  By asking questions we get to know people better, and conversation flows easier leading to an easier relationship which might develop into friendship.  So, whether you are networking for business or meeting socially … being curious is a great way to “get ahead”!

“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years of trying to get people interested in you.”  Dale Carnegie

Work at it!

Consciously start to ask more questions.

Work at developing better questions.

Set yourself a goal to learn something new every day … by asking questions.

If you are hiring people, look for those who are curious … they will WANT to learn!

Are you good at getting people to open up, by asking good questions?

Do you agree that curiosity is a valuable skill?

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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CANADIAN JOB MARKET Review Second Quarter 2015

jobsGeneral Observations:

The first half of the year has been a challenge here in Canada, driven largely by the struggling oil sector, which tends to ripple through the economy.  The general feeling is that Statistics Canada will announce a recession, given that Canada will have experienced two consecutive quarters of contraction.

Target LogoFollowing a tough first quarter of low oil prices, mid-$40 range, and layoffs in the retail sector (Target, Sony, Mexxx) the second quarter has continued to see the effects of a depressed energy sector.

The employment rate at the end of Q2 is unchanged from the end of Q1, sitting at 6.8%.  There has been a loss of about 11,000 jobs in the oil sector however Canada has actually added 33,000 jobs in Q2, and 176,000 jobs over the last 12 months.

TSXAs another economic indicator the TSX has been fairly steady, despite other volatility in the markets.  At the end of Q2 the TSX was at about 14,500 which was down about 500 points from the 15,000 reading at the end of Q1.

As already mentioned the price of a barrel of oil has plummeted and is currently sitting around $55 a barrel, but at the end of Q1 was below $50.  This had a significant impact in the oil patch, resulting in cut backsOil can, reduction in spending and layoffs.  When coupled with a low Canadian dollar however it is not ALL bad news, and Canadian manufacturers and exporters are benefiting.

The financial sector is one of the largest employers in Canada and continues to be a busy user of talent.  This sector is centered primarily in Toronto, but with a significant presence in Montreal. There are many reasons why this sector remains busy including its highly competitive nature, evolving technologies, regulatory change and volatile markets.

Mobile antena. Communication conceptThe telecommunications sector is another big employer in Canada in a very competitive world.  Differentiation is achieved through infrastructure, technology advancements and new offerings.  In addition they are dealing with the effects of an aging workforce and the retiring baby boomers.

ConstructionThe construction industry is a large consumer of labor and remains a great place to find work, both in the trades and in the head offices of the large companies. You can see cranes dotting the landscape in most major cities with infrastructure projects, office towers and condo developments. The drop in oil prices has cost jobs in the oil sands and other large projects but in general, if people are willing to travel there is work to be had.  There continues to be high demand for “trades” in the home renovation and small scale construction world.

Despite the need for governments to contain costs we have seen a fairly steady demand in Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments.  They are huge employers, and people with the right skills are always in demand. The required downsizing is generally achieved through attrition and there is always work to be done. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits. As we get closer to Federal and Provincial elections the projects are slowing down and funding is harder to get.  I would expect to see a slowdown in this sector over the next six months At least.  It is difficult to say what will happen in Alberta with an NDP government that has no experience governing.  The general consensus seems to suggest a steep but fairly long learning curve that will cost jobs.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The index suggests that the slowdown in the demand for talent we saw in Q1, continued into Q2.  Increased demand for staff augmentation resources is often the first sign of recovery, and we are not yet seeing that.

Here at Eagle we have seen significant impact on our Western Canada business however other markets remain fairly steady.  Following a first quarter drop of 30% in orders, we saw a further dip of almost 10% in Q2.  The impact has been almost exclusively in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  While other markets have been fairly stable there has been no offsetting increase in demand.

More Specifically:
cn towerWith more than 6 million people, and the largest number of head offices in Canada, the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is by far Canada’s, and Eagle’s, largest market.  This market accounts for approximately 60% of Eagle’s business which comes from the major industries here, which include the financial, insurance, government and telecommunications sectors.  The retail sector and the construction industry also generate significant demand, in addition to the engineering space.  Despite a technical recession the GTA continues to demand talent.

The Saddledome in CalgaryIn Western Canada Alberta, and more specifically Calgary has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices, and it has been a significant hit.  In addition to the hit in oil prices has been the uncertainty of an NDP government coming to power, who have already raised corporate taxes and have an environmental agenda that will impact big oil.  Companies are still evaluating whether their investment dollars should be redirected outside of Alberta!  It remains to be seen whether confidence can be restored to the business sector, and what affect that will have on jobs and the Canadian economy.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. Ottawa is essentially a “government market” and as such will rise and fall based on Federal projects and spending.  As an election nears we are seeing the typical slowdown in demand which will continue until well after the election.  Montreal is relatively steady but not booming, with demand coming from the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry. There will be some impact from the oil price felt particularly in Newfoundland.  This region is typically slower for job creation at the best of times, so I expect it to be even slower than normal until we see an uptick in oil prices

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time. That would include Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts who always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM and mobile expertise are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand

Summary:

The first half of 2015 has seen a wide difference in the economies of the East versus the West.  The West has suffered through the predictable fallout from a dropping price of a barrel of oil, the East has continued somewhat unabated.  The general consensus appears to be that oil prices will not recover to their recent highs, and will not increase significantly in the near term.  This outlook has companies taking a conservative approach to investment and growth plans.  The impact in Calgary has been most significant, and now we are seeing impact on other markets, including Edmonton and Saskatchewan, which was expected.

The other big verticals such as Financial, Insurance, Telecommunications and Construction have not been greatly affected by the price of oil. Demand for talent appears to be strong and we are seeing these sectors benefit from newly available talent, previously employed in the oil sector.

The recent lowering of the overnight interest rate was a sign that the Feds want to get the economy moving again.  With a Fall election coming they will hope things will improve, although the signs are that we are unlikely to see a much improved economy in the near term.

Despite the current crunch, we expect continued skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly fueled by the boomers retiring, but also caused by our education system not turning out the right skill sets and the advancements in technology creating a shortage as the skills catch up.

The unemployment rate at 6.8% is not great but it is also not terrible.  Professionals are probably seeing an unemployment rate more like 4%, so companies are still having trouble finding the right talent, at the right time for the right price!

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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It is Time to Take a Hard Look at Payrolling

Jack Welch quote about teamsCompanies have many excellent reasons why they use a flexible workforce to supplement their full time staff.  Like any purchase, organizations want to get the best price possible for these services and one of the ways they try to save money is by sourcing the people themselves and then “payrolling” them through a third party, for a small fee.  The rationale is that the fee paid to the agency is reduced and thus the company saves money.

A detailed analysis of the facts shows that (a) companies do NOT save money, in fact they actually pay more.  PLUS (b) those organisations introduce increased corporate risk!

Here is a look at the real costs of payrolling:

  1. The average payrolled resource will actually be paid above market value, because there is no competitive process.
  2. By the time a payrolling fee is added, the amount paid by the organisation is higherthan they would have paid the agency to do the work for them.  Eagle’s internal analysis would suggest that on average the difference is greater than 10%!
  3. The increased rate paid to the individual causes a market issue over time because they expect that increased rate for all of their future work.  So overall market rates get edged up artificially and companies end up paying EVEN more for these resources into the future.
  4. There is also a hidden cost for the internal company resources who will have spent their efforts in finding this person, instead of focusing on their company’s core business.

In addition to dollar considerations there are corporate risk issues:

  1. The independent resource is not as independent as one sourced through a third party.  They have a relationship to the organisation’s hiring manager, they won their role without competition thus creating a potential conflict of interest with the organisation’s hiring manager.  This can make it more difficult to handle potential performance issues.
  2. Employer/employee relationships are a tricky area when talking about independent contractors or worse still “sole proprietors” who operate as independents. Many government departments, both federal and provincial, led by CRA are very interested in this area.  Payrolling erodes the independence factor and thus increases risk to the hiring company.
  3. Recent practices by some third parties of charging the payrolling fee to the individualscauses an even greater risk.  Positioned as an easy “money saving” scheme to the client, it can end up being a minefield as evidenced by a recent $384 million class action lawsuit launched against one large Canadian company and their third party provider!  It is worth noting that it is illegal in Canada to charge an individual a fee for work, so if an independent contractor is not really independent, then in addition to scrutiny on remittances you might have a big legal problem.

Companies can benefit most by engaging credible suppliers to compete on every resource requirement.  This approach means that companies can focus on their actual costs, not on other factors such as what their supplier might make.  According to Statistics Canada, the average bottom line in the staffing industry in Canada is 3 to 5% of revenues.  So chances are, your staffing supplier is NOT making out like a bandit!  Let the market forces work, and everyone benefits!

So the best choice for organizations, for both price AND risk management, is the competitive market.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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CANADIAN JOB MARKET Review First Quarter 2015

Newspaper jobs sectionGeneral Observations:

As always, the intent of this summary is to provide some insight into Canada’s job market with input from many sources including our own “from the trenches” view.  We want to bring value to both job seekers and hiring managers with these observations and opinions.

The first quarter started with a bang, and not a good one!  The price of oil took a hammering from its mid-2014 highs above $100 a barrel down into the mid $40s.  In addition there were a slew of layoffs in the retail space with Target, Sony, Mexx and Holt Renfrew all announcing cut backs or just closing up Canadian operations.

The unemployment rate at the end of Q1 was 6.8%, up from 6.6% at the end of the last quarter and Canada had added 50,000 less jobs in the 12 months to March 31, 2015 than it had in the 12 months to December 31st 2014.

TSXAs another economic indicator the TSX has been fairly steady, despite other volatility in the markets.  At the end of Q1 it had a reading of close to 15,000 (and is up from there today).  This reading was not a marked contrast from the reading of 14,700 at the end of the last quarter.

As already mentioned the price of a barrel of oil has plummeted and is currently sitting around $55 a barrel, but at the end of Q1 was below $50.  This had a significant impact in the oil patch, resulting in cut backs, reduction in spending and layoffs.  When coupled with a low Canadian dollar however it is not ALL bad news, and Canadian manufacturers and exporters are benefiting. One prediction suggests that the oil patch will ultimately lose about 8,000 jobs through this period, however in that boom and bust world we will see it come back with a vengeance at some point.

One of the largest employers in Canada is the financial sector, centered primarily in Toronto, but with a significant presence in Montreal. There are many reasons why this sector remains busy including its highly competitive nature, evolving technologies, regulatory change and volatile markets.  In addition to these factors the booming US economy means that I expect this sector to remain busy.

The telecommunications sector is another big employer in Canada and remains busy.  The demands on their infrastructure, technology advancements, retiring boomers and expansion into new markets are all drivers of their need for people in addition to the ongoing need to compete in a very competitive space.

ConstructionThe construction industry continues to be a great place to find work, both in the trades and in the head offices of the large companies. There are construction sites in most major cities with infrastructure projects, office towers and condo developments. There has been an impact, particularly in Alberta from the drop in oil price.  I expect this to be a point in time “bust” and a recovery can be expected if not in the second half of 2015, then it should happen in the first half of 2016.  There continues to be high demand for “trades” in the home renovation and small scale construction world.

Despite the need for governments to contain costs we have seen a fairly steady demand in Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments.  They are huge employers, and people with the right skills are always in demand. The required downsizing is generally achieved through attrition and there is always work to be done. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits. The wild card here will be the effect of upcoming elections and the impact of lost oil revenue taxes.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The index suggests a slowdown in the demand for talent in Q1 of 2015, and a slower quarter than the Q1 of 2014.

Eagle E logoHere at Eagle we have seen significant impact on our Western Canada business however other markets remain busy.  The first quarter saw a drop in demand by more than 30% in orders, most specifically from Calgary but with some impact in other Western markets too.  The GTA remains very busy and the National Capital region is experiencing its annual government year-end slowdown, but nothing unexpected.

More Specifically:

cn towerThe GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is Canada’s and Eagle’s largest market.  The number of head offices located here plus a population size that makes it the 4th largest city in North America mean there is a lot of business here.  This market accounts for approximately 60% of Eagle’s business which comes from the major industries here, which include the financial, insurance and telecommunications sectors.  The retail sector and the construction industry generate significant demand, in addition to the engineering space.  The GTA is also home to a large part of the Ontario provincial government and multiple municipal governments.  Hence the GTA offers the most opportunity in Canada, but is also the most competitive city in Canada.  It is definitely the city I would want to be in if I were looking for work.

oil rigsIn Western Canada Calgary has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices, and it has been a significant hit.  Having said that, the city has always experienced a boom and bust economy, but just hasn’t had a bust for a while!  Things will return, and as the “hub” for Western Canada, with the second largest number of head offices and the attraction of the low Alberta tax rate (for now) we expect it to boom again.  Edmonton will also be affected by the oil price as The Alberta Government is dependent on taxes from oil revenues, although the impact has not as yet been significant.   Saskatchewan is also generally a fairly hot market for talent but will feel the effect of a lower oil price.  The opportunity in the current market is for companies to upgrade their low performers, taking advantage of the available talent which will quickly disappear as the economy rebounds.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. Ottawa has been a steady government market for some time now and we don’t see that changing as boomers retire and new opportunities arise.  Montreal continues to be steady, particularly in the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry. There will be some impact from the oil price felt particularly in Newfoundland.  This region is typically slower for job creation at the best of times, so I expect it to be even slower than normal until we see an uptick in oil prices

AT Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time. That would include Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts who always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM and mobile expertise are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand

Summary:

Always look on the bright side of life
The first quarter has been a tale of East versus West.  The West has suffered through the predictable fallout from a dropping price of a barrel of oil, the Eats have continued somewhat unabated.  Now is a tough time to be looking for work in the oil patch and we are seeing an increase in willingness to travel to where there is demand for talent.  While our crystal ball is no better than any other, we expect this situation to correct through the latter part of 2015 and first half of 2016.

While the impact in Calgary has been significant we have not seen too much impact in other markets, including Edmonton which we would have expected.  This may happen yet, with an impending election and the impact of dropping revenues from oil taxes.

The other big verticals such as Financial, Insurance, Telecommunications and Construction have not been greatly affected by the price of oil. Demand for talent appears to be strong and we are seeing these sectors benefit from newly available talent, previously employed in the oil sector.

Despite the current crunch, we expect continued skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly fuelled by the boomers retiring, but also caused by our education system not turning out the right skill sets and the advancements in technology creating a shortage as the skills catch up.

The unemployment rate at 6.8% is not great but it is also not terrible.  When you factor in the fact that unemployment amongst professionals is probably more like 4% companies are still having trouble finding the right talent, at the right time for the right price!

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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The Recruiter Value Proposition Continued

Famous People on the bus quote from Jim CollinsIn recent articles I talked about some of the reasons why hiring managers should invest in a relationship with their recruiters.   I talked about three key reasons:

  • Just in time staffing. Their reach in finding talent when you need it;
  • Upgrading.  Their ability to help you improve your team; and
  • Knowledge Transfer. Their ability to bring expertise that can share their knowledge with your existing team.

Here are just a couple more reasons why you might want to spend some regular time with your recruiter.

“The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”  Steve Jobs

Market Knowledge:

Recruiters have an excellent pulse on the market and know what skills are in demand, what are scarce, what rates are and what the trends are.

If you have an upcoming project that will require a particular skill set it would make sense for you to understand the availability of that skill set in your market and the associated potential cost.

Managers can a learn a lot about what their competition is doing from recruiters.  Are they hiring or laying off?   Is there a buzz about their culture … do people like working there?  There are often times where companies can benefit from hiring someone with experience at a competitor (obviously respecting non-competition clauses) and your recruiter can find those people.

I wish I had a dollar for every manager that wanted to understand their own value in the market!

“Often the best solution to a management problem is the right person.” Edwin Booz

Cost containment:

This can come in many flavors, and a recruiter with a partner attitude will try to bring value where they can.

Many companies have a tendency to hire friends … people they know and trust.  Clearly there are very good reasons for doing this, but it is never the most cost effective solution … because there is no competitive process to ensure that the contract rate, or salary is competitive.  We always recommend our clients compete the position, with the “friend” as one candidate.  This allows the hiring manager to see if there are potentially better candidates and ensure the cost is in line with the market.

There is a misconception that contract employees are more expensive that full time staff, and this can color a decision the wrong way.  A good recruiter can guide a hiring manager through an analysis that takes into account the “real cost” of an employee.  Sometimes the answer is NOT to go full time … especially when flexibility, training and management costs and the impact of pensions and company benefits are taken into account.

“The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people.” Bill Gates

The traditional way that recruiters can help clients to get cost effective solutions is as relevant as it always has been.  Often clients think they need an expert to do the job, so having a few candidates to look at and understand the relative cost/experience/capability can result in a better fit!

I read a FastCompany article just this morning that suggests one of the biggest challenges that CEOs will face in 2015 is finding the right talent.  Having a relationship with a good recruiter is a great way for companies to be ahead of the game with that challenge.

“The marketplace is incredibly competitive in every industry around the globe.  The difference between success and failure is talent, period!”  Indra Nooyi, CEO Pepsico

So … go ahead hug your recruiter today!
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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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The Continuing Value of a Recruiter to The Client

invest in people There are many reasons why clients will go to a recruiter.  Some of those reasons are fairly common and others are not so common.  Typically clients look to a recruiter when they have an urgent need for talent … but an ongoing relationship with your recruiter will mean you can actually get proactive!

Today I will talk about the kind of situation many managers face, the need to bring new knowledge into the organization.  There are many reasons why this is needed.

  • You do not have a key skill amongst your employees;
  • A key resource leaves and the skill leaves with them; or
  • A new technology comes into the company and you have no-one with that skill.

Typically companies will approach these situations in a few different ways:

  • Hire someone new into the position who has that skill;
  • Hire a contractor into the position;
  • Muddle through; or
  • Outsource the responsibility to an external supplier.

There are however many times when you have good employees, who could do the work if they had the right experience.  They are also people you would want to reward with this kind of opportunity and if your could then it would strengthen their tie to your organization.

What can you do?

Your recruiter can help you to identify the right kind of contract resource, who can bring the experience and the skill.  Their task would NOT be to do the work themselves but to partner with the internal employee through the process of getting them up to speed, while ensuring the work is done well.  As a part of their mandate they could even train a few in house people in relevant skills to ensure adequate backup for your new in-house expert.  This approach is more attractive to in house resources who might resent the “sexy” projects being given to contract resources.

The short term cost might be a little higher than hiring a net new person, or even hiring a contractor for the duration.  Longer term you have the skills you need, happy employees and your costs are likely to be less.

“If you take care of your employees they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.”  J W Marriott

It requires a little more planning and the right expectation setting with both the contractor and the employee.  It might require a willingness to put in a little extra effort on the part of the employee, but they will be getting new skills in return.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”  Chinese Proverb

This is just one more reason why hiring managers should have an ongoing relationship with their recruiter.  A good recruiter will be able to understand the business issue, find exactly the right candidate and set the right expectations with an incoming contract resource.
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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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The Value of a Recruiter to a Hiring Manager

Rob Crandall quote about upgrading your teamFor some people a recruiter is a “necessary evil” … someone that they call as a last resort, when they are desperate to fill a role.  The rest of the time they will avoid them.

The fact is that in addition to being a source of talent there are many reasons why a hiring manager should cultivate a relationship with their recruiting supplier, especially when there is no immediate and burning need.  The recruiter is a great resource that can help with a number of management challenges … so I would counsel hiring managers to put their recruiters to work!

Today I will focus on how a good recruiter can help you improve your existing team.  This is especially important during quieter economic times.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”  Ronald Reagan

During a downturn, excellent talent comes on the market or at the very least is willing to have conversations about other opportunities.  It might be their company is struggling, a project lost funding or just the uncertainty of their particular situation … but it spells opportunity for the astute hiring manager.   Especially if they have a good recruiter finding these people for them!

In my management experience the number one source of pain has always been the underperforming employee with the attitude problem.  They might do just enough to “get by”, but they cause their manager heart burn, take more management time than the rest of your staff and they disrupt the team dynamics.

I would suggest that most managers that have a number of people on their project, or working for them will have their “problem child”.

Imagine how much better your days would be if that person were replaced by someone like one of your top performers!  Suddenly stress would be reduced, productivity would be increased and you would find time to spend on more enjoyable activities.  Your team would be happier and so would you.

If you have a relationship with your recruiter you can talk about these things.  You can have them keep an eye out for the “A’ player that might fit your team.  If you have a relationship they will know the soft skills that are needed, they will understand the hard skills that are mandatory and they will not waste your time by firing over resumes of people who might just be another problem child.

Companies always talk about the cost of recruiting and how expensive it is … well think about the real return on investment in this one move!  What dollar benefit would your company receive by replacing one poor performer with an “A Player”?

This is just ONE reason you need to have a relationship with your recruiter!

________________________________________________________________
Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
________________________________________________________________


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CANADIAN JOB MARKET Review Fourth Quarter 2014

General Observations:

newspaper job sectionEach quarter I try to provide the reader with an understanding of the Canadian job market based on a regular set of indicators.  In addition to public market indicators I use Eagle’s experiences serving our clients across Canada.  The hope is that job seekers will gain some insight about where opportunities might be, and hiring managers will gain some value for their hiring aspirations.

Timing of course is everything, and while this is a retroactive look at the 4th quarter of 2014 I am acutely aware that 2015 has started with a bang, due to oil price dropping like a stone, the Canadian dollar dipping and large retail companies either closing shop or laying off (Target, Sony, Mexx, Holt Renfrew etc).

As of Q4 the employment situation in Canada was looking OK.  The unemployment rate had dropped to 6.6%, from 6.8% at the end of Q3, and 2014 had seen Canada add about 186,000 jobs.  Most of that gain had come in the latter six months of the year.

TSXThe TSX, like most of the markets had been fairly steady through 2014 but as the year ended it had a reading around 14,700 which was down from the 15,500 it had reached at the end of Q3. This was still better than its low point in 2014 which was around 13,700 and as I write this piece the index appears to be staying above that low.

Oil canCanada’s oil sector fell off a cliff in Q4 with the price of a barrel dropping from around $85 at the end of Q3 to less than $50.  What is worse for this sector is there is no short term sign of recovery and forecasters are pessimistic that we will ever get back to the $100+ range.  There are winners and losers with cheap oil but we can expect the Alberta economy to take a hit, and the Conference Board is predicting a recession in Alberta.

dollar splitAnother big employer in Canada is the financial sector, centered primarily in Toronto but with a healthy presence in Montreal. There are many reasons why this sector remains busy including its highly competitive nature, evolving technologies, regulatory change and volatile markets.  I expect this sector to remain busy in the short term.

The telecommunications sector is another big employer in Canada.  The demands on their infrastructure, technology advancements, retiring boomers and expansion into new markets are all drivers of their need for people in addition to the ongoing need to compete in a very competitive space.

ConstructionThe construction industry continues to be a great place to find work, both in the trades and in the head offices of the large companies. There are construction sites in most major cities with infrastructure projects, office towers and condo developments. There will be some fallout from the drop in oil price, particularly since the oil sands are en expensive extraction method.  Time will show the extent of the impact, but if oil prices rebound a bit over the coming months the impact should be minimal.  If the price stays below $50 there will be a big impact.  There will always be demand in the home renovation market, if you have ever tried such a job you will know how hard it is to find skilled tradespeople available.

Parliament building in OttawaDespite the need for governments to contain costs we have seen a fairly steady demand in Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments.  They are huge employers, and people with the right skills are always in demand. The required downsizing is generally achieved through attrition and there is always work to be done. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits. The wild card here will be the effect of lost oil revenue taxes, so this will be a space to watch.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The index overall seems to trend down slightly from 2013 but was rebounding slowly through the first three quarters.  Q4 would suggest a slowdown of that recovery and a slip backwards.  Having said that the index is 10% higher than its reading when introduced in 2008 just before the recession.

Here at Eagle we continue to see shortages of “in demand” skillsets, and a steady supply of candidates with skillsets in other areas.  The flow of available talent over the fourth quarter was the same as Q3 and marginally down from Q4 of 2013.  The demand from our clients was down about 10% in the fourth quarter and about the same as Q4 in 2013, suggesting a fairly normal seasonal swing.

More Specifically:

cn towerThe GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is the largest market in Canada with the most head offices and hence a big appetite for professional talent. This market accounts for approximately 60% of Eagle’s business which comes from the major industries here, which include the financial, insurance and telecommunications sectors.  There has been plenty of retail demand although recent events might change that and a fair bit of demand in the engineering space, in addition to a fairly strong construction sector. A large part of the Ontario provincial government is here too, which is another sector that demands talent. This is the city offering the most opportunities in Canada, and where I would want to be looking if I were unemployed.

The Saddledome in CalgaryCalgary is the “hub” for Western Canada as the capital of the oil patch. The city has the second largest number of head offices and the attraction of the low Alberta tax rate (for now).  The current oil price situation has created a ripple in this economy and many oil related companies are cutting back on investment and slowing projects.   Edmonton will also be affected by the oil price as The Alberta Government is dependent on taxes from oil revenues.   Saskatchewan is also generally a fairly hot market for talent but will feel the effect of a lower oil price.  All in all Western Canada is going to be a little slow in hiring, we may seem some downsizing and it maybe some time before it booms again. Having said that, there are always opportunities for people with great skills, and in companies with a large Boomer population approaching retirement.

LighthouseEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal and “the Maritimes”. Montreal continues to be relatively busy, particularly in the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry. There will be some impact from the oil price felt particularly in Newfoundland.  This region is typically slower for job creation at the best of times, so I expect it to be even slower than normal until we see an uptick in oil prices

AT Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients has been fairly consistent for some time. That would include Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts who always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics and mobile expertise are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand

Summary:

magnifying glass over the word jobsThe fourth quarter had been following the predictable path demonstrated through 2014 of steady improvement in the unemployment rate and decent job creation. The huge drop in the price of oil right at the end of the year will have a ripple effect but it was harder to spot during the usual seasonal slowdown.  Our expectation is that demand in Western Canada will be down significantly, creating an opportunity for companies to pick up the usually rare “top performers” should they become available.  Companies will want to improve, but not necessarily increase the size of their teams.  There will be some downsizing, we have already seen reduced investment but I don’t anticipate huge layoffs in the short term.  If the price of oil does not improve soon we might see more drastic measures.

There will be an impact on the retail sector with the already announced layoffs due to Target and Sony exiting Canada plus the financial woes of Mexx and Holt Renfrew.  The dropping Canadian dollar will only hurt those companies that import their stock but it will be a boon to Canadian exporters.

Elsewhere the other big sectors such as Financial, Insurance, Telecommunications and Construction should not be greatly affected by the price of oil. As such I don’t anticipate a big decrease in demand in the GTA, other than a “stutter” caused as companies assess the impact on them.  There will continue to be skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly fueled by the boomers retiring, but also caused by our education system not turning out the right skill sets and the advancements in technology creating a shortage as the skills catch up.

The unemployment rate at 6.6% is better than it has been for more than 5 years, and if we can avoid driving that up too much because of the oil patch then it will be a good sign for job seekers. It should also be noted that the employment rate for professionals is more like 3.5% or 4%, which is very near to full employment. This means that professionals should be able to find work if they are willing to be flexible in their demands.

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.
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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Hiring, Firing and Retention … Build Great Teams!

10 Tips For Companies That Truly Value The Impact Of Their People

Importance of employees by J W MarriottBusinesses will often talk about the importance of their people, they will say things like “Our people are our greatest asset”, or “It’s our people that make the difference” and similar statements.

The thing is that very often companies operate very differently than you might expect from reading their values statements. They keep low performers. They have people with attitude problems. They fail to retain the “high flyers”. They demotivate their staff. They will make classic business errors, that will come back to haunt them.

“Let us cultivate our garden.” Voltaire

In the knowledge economy it really IS the people that make the difference. So every company needs to find the best people, train the best people and retain the best people if they really want to become, or even to remain as, a great company.

Here are 10 Tips for Companies Who REALLY Believe Their Values Statements about People:

  1. Hire slow, fire fast is old school… you need to GRAB talent when you find it.
  2. The global competition for talent is heating up, you need to have a plan for finding your talent.
  3. The people in the staffing industry are the professionals, whose core business is finding talent… use them.
  4. Develop and enhance your hiring process to be efficient (fast), complete and attractive for talent.
  5. Invest in your people. Continuous learning should be a joint employer/employee commitment.
  6. Do not accept under performance. Under performers hurt your brand and belie your commitment to having great people.
  7. Make your people accountable… if they are who you need them to be, they will step up.
  8. Always be willing to upgrade. People are responsible for their own destiny, if you have underperformers and you can replace them with top performers the positive impact can be huge!
  9. Get rid of the “disturbers”!  No one needs the “drama people”, the “negative influencers” or the “toxic employees” … even if they are top performers!  Everyone is happy when they leave.
  10. Develop a culture that attracts great talent and nurtures them through their careers and you are well on your way to being a great company.

I don’t advocate a “cut throat” environment that eliminates the bottom x% of staff. I do advocate an environment that expects a certain level of performance, that is willing to invest in people to help them get there but is quick to recognize when people are in the wrong place.

“You put together the best team that you can with the players you’ve got, and replace those who aren’t good enough.” Robert Crandall

People are in the wrong place for many reasons, it could be the “Peter principle” at play, they might have lost their motivation for the job, they might just not be good at the job. Whatever the reason it does nobody any favors to keep underperforming people doing a job.

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody, by spending his money somewhere else.” Sam Walton

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are? Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Canadian Job Market Review for Third Quarter 2014

Newspaper jobs sectionGeneral Observations:

At the end of the third quarter in 2014 it would be hard to suggest that this has been a banner year for Canada’s economy. There have been plenty of bumps along the way although we have thus far been lucky to avoid natural disasters such as the Alberta floods last year.

When writing this market review, I use a number of “indicators” and try to factor in Eagle’s own experiences, as one of Canada’s larger professional staffing companies. The intent is to give the reader a view “from the trenches” to support the bigger picture view from the statisticians. This may be used by job seekers to understand at a high level where the opportunities might be, and for potential employers wondering if they will be facing skills shortages.

The employment situation did improve this quarter over last, with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.8%, from 7.1% at the end of Q2. In the last 12 months Canada has added 150,000 jobs which is 78,000 more than could have been said at the end of Q2 (for the previous 12 months).

TSX One of the indicators that I use to gauge the state of the Canadian economy, and hence job market, is the TSX. All of the markets have been volatile for some time, with a general trend upwards. At the end of Q3, the TSX was at a high of 15,500 which was up 500 points since the end of Q2, when it was already high. Since then, however, we have seen the markets retract somewhat. As an indicator, it would suggest that companies listed on the TSX are generally healthy, which would suggest that they are hiring.

oil rigsCanada’s oil sector continues to face numerous problems. There is currently a surfeit of oil which has driven the price of a barrel down from the end of Q2 price of $108 to $85 a barrel at the end of Q3. Canada is keen to expand its market beyond the US; however, attempts to build pipelines are currently facing serious challenges both in the US and here in Canada, primarily on environmental grounds. Despite all of that, the oil patch enjoys low unemployment, good benefits and continues to be one of the better places to be looking for work.

Lots of paper moneyPerhaps a close second to the oil patch for employment opportunity is Canada’s financial sector, centered primarily in Toronto but with a healthy presence in Montreal. The highly competitive industry employs a huge number of people and seems to have an almost insatiable appetite for talent. Regulatory change, innovations in banking, technological advances and the need to address the retiring boomers are all reasons why the banks continue to hire.

Mobile antena. Communication conceptThe telecommunications sector is another very large sector that is always looking for talent. This is another very competitive environment, with a need to innovate and attract customers. The demands on their infrastructure, technology advancements, retiring boomers and expansion into new markets are all drivers of their need for people.

ConstructionThe construction industry is a great place to find work, both in the trades and in the head offices of the large companies. There are construction sites in most major cities with infrastructure projects, office towers and condo developments. There are also continued development in places like Fort MacMurray and the oil sands. To top the demand off, if you have ever tried to renovation project, small to medium sized repairs of just home alterations you will know how hard it is to find skilled tradespeople available.

Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments continue to struggle with cost containment; however, they are huge employers, and people with the right skills are always in demand. The downsizing is most often achieved through attrition and there is always work to be done. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The index continues to show an economy that has tepid growth and the latest reading of 112 is down slightly from the same period last year (113) but up from Q2 reading of 108. Here at Eagle we saw a drop of 5% in candidates applying for jobs, and an equivalent drop in demand from our clients. This can be attributed to a seasonal trend accounting for the summer holiday period. We do still see shortages of “in demand” skillsets, and a steady supply of candidates with skillsets in other areas.

More Specifically:

cn towerDemand in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is always fairly high, although we experience slightly less demand during the summer months. With the largest metropolitan area, the most head offices and the financial center for Canada, the GTA generates 60% of the talent demand here at Eagle. This is the city offering the best opportunities, and the hottest sectors would be the telecommunications sector, the financial sector, the insurance industry, the retail sector and the municipal and provincial governments. We don’t service the construction industry, but it too is a hot sector in the GTA (let’s not discuss the amount of road closures!).

The Saddledome in CalgaryCalgary is the “hub” for Western Canada as the capital of the oil patch. The city has the second largest number of head offices and, when coupled with the attractive tax situation in Alberta and the low unemployment rate in the province (4.4%), it is a popular destination for companies to set up in business, and hence to find employment. Saskatchewan enjoys the lowest unemployment rate of the Canadian provinces at 3.5% so it too is a great place to be looking for work.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal and “the Maritimes”. Montreal continues to be fairly busy, particularly in the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry. There is also some demand in St John’s, NFLD (population about 200,000), and in Halifax (approx. 400,000) but they are not big markets and the unemployment rate in the Eastern provinces is amongst the highest in Canada. The Federal Government in Ottawa continues to move ahead on some of its large initiatives, creating some demand, and this market is looking healthier for professionals than in some time.

The types of people that seem to be in constant demand from our clients have been fairly consistent. We see a consistent demand for Program Managers and Project Managers while Business Analysts are also always in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics and mobile expertise are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand

Summary:

So far 2014 has been very similar to 2013, with the unemployment rate slowly edging down in a two steps forward, one step backward kind of way. The stock market has done quite well, but the economy has not followed, suggesting that there is still a lack of confidence which otherwise would have fuelled a boom. Government cost cutting, uncertainty in the oil patch and a general global malaise seem to restrain us here in Canada. The US economy has recovered faster this year and typically that has a positive effect on Canada’s economy so perhaps we will see a strong fourth quarter. The retirement “bubble” of baby boomers should start to be felt over the coming year, so that will create employment opportunities and advancement opportunities for job seekers.

We expect to see more skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly fuelled by the boomers retiring, but also caused by our education system not turning out the right skill sets and the advancements in technology creating a shortage as the skills catch up.

The unemployment rate around 6.8%, (7.1% in Ontario) is better than it has been for more than 5 years, and if we can keep at the level or better, it will be a good sign for job seekers. However the employment rate for professionals is more like more 3.5% or 4%, which is very near to full employment. This means that professionals should be able to find work if they are willing to be flexible in their demands.

For those people willing to go where the work is, we see continued opportunity in the oil patch, with obvious demand in Fort McMurray and all areas related to the oil sands. The cities with higher talent demand include the GTA, Calgary, Regina, Montreal, Edmonton and to a lesser degree Winnipeg, Vancouver and Saskatoon. The industry sectors that have the most demand have not changed and include banking, insurance, construction, telecommunications and the sectors that serve those industries.

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?
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