Employer of Choice: Using Business Awards Programs to Attract Job Seekers

Adapted from Chemistry Consulting

Canada’s tourism sector is now in its tenth-straight year of a lower employment rate than the total Canadian economy. While this news is great for job seekers, it has created significant recruitment challenges for many tourism employers.

One way employers can respond to these challenges and entice workers is to raise awareness of their organization by participating in business and/or employer awards programs.

In the current job market, job seekers are increasingly evaluating potential employers by researching whether a company’s values, culture, and strategic direction align with their own. They are also interested in working for organizations that have a positive profile and are well thought of in the community or sector in which they operate. As such, employers who are having trouble recruiting staff and/or want to better position themselves as an ‘Employer of Choice’ should consider pursuing initiatives that will help them enhance their brand.

One effective way that an organization can enhance their brand is to participate in national, provincial, local, or industry-based business awards programs such as those profiled below. Although participating in these programs involves some time and effort, they can be a great way to share your company’s successes and enhance its exposure to job seekers.

Canadian Employer Awards Programs

A well recognized employer awards program is Canada’s Top 100 Employers. As part of participating in this national program, nominees are required to submit a range of information related to:

  • Physical workplace
  • Work atmosphere & social
  • Health, financial & family benefits
  • Vacation & time off
  • Employee communications
  • Performance management
  • Training & skills development
  • Community involvement

Evaluators compare organizations within a particular field based on the information provided and determine which employers offer the most progressive and forward-thinking working environment. The Globe and Mail publishes a special feature announcing the winners, and the announcement is shared by other media outlets across the country.

Winning or finalist organizations can promote their placement as a top employer to entice job seekers to consider available job opportunities with their organization. As the winner and finalist submissions are made public, this information is also useful to job seekers trying to gain insight into the working environment of an organization.

Other national-level awards programs that employers could consider participating in include, for example, Canada’s Top Employers for Young People, Canada’s Greenest Employers and Canada’s Best Diversity Employers.

Additionally, the evaluation factors associated with Canada’s Top 100 Employers are similar to those used for provincial/territorial programs. As such, it is relatively easy for employers who choose to participate in one of these programs to also participate in another without creating a lot of extra work. Chambers of commerce may also offer local employer recognition or awards programs.

Tourism Employer Awards Programs

An employer can also use sector- or industry-based programs to elevate their organization and employer brand. There are programs specific to tourism and hospitality in many regions across Canada, as well as national awards.

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada both offer annual awards programs that include honouring businesses that excel at developing and implementing innovative HR programs and policies, as well as those for community engagement, environmental leadership, and tourism development.

Looking regionally, industry associations and human resource organizations provide employers with the opportunity to have their commitment to strong HR practices recognized. Examples include the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association and Tourism Saskatchewan, both of whom offer Employer of Choice programs, and the Tourism Industry Association of BC’s Employees First Award.

Benefits of Participating

Regardless of the awards program in which your organization opts to participate, winner and finalist organizations can promote their awards program standing to elevate the profile of their organization both with job seekers specifically and with target customer groups more generally.

Even when an organization participates in an awards program but isn’t a winner or finalist, the results can be used to the organization’s benefit, as management can review the award nomination information of their competitors to see, for example, what other employers are offering in the way of vacation time, benefits, and a variety of other perks. In turn, this information can be used to determine if the packages offered by their organization are appealing to job seekers or if adjustments are needed to improve their position as an ‘Employer of Choice’.

Given current low unemployment rates and strong competition for good workers, participating in relevant awards programs is one way that an employer can demonstrate that they provide a good working environment and create a positive public profile for their organization that appeals to job seekers. Employers should not hesitate to publicize their position as an award finalist or winner to raise their profile as a great place to work. In this instance, there’s nothing wrong with an employer ‘tooting their own horn’.

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