Canadian Plastics

Recruitment and retention: Finding and keeping the best employees

By Michael Bennett, Engage Human Resources Solutions Inc.   

R egardless of the levels of technology and automation you may have in your shop, do you feel that the calibre and performance of your employees have an impact on the efficiency and profitability of y...

Regardless of the levels of technology and automation you may have in your shop, do you feel that the calibre and performance of your employees have an impact on the efficiency and profitability of your operation? My guess is that all of you said yes. If you said no, take a good look at your business; I expect that you will realize that engineers, designers, quality control, set-up and production operators and maintenance professionals (not to mention sales, administration and other roles within the business) actually have a greater impact than you think.

This, coupled with the expected retirement rates associated with the aging baby boomers means that despite lower overall employment in the sector, finding and keeping top quality employees will become a challenge that you absolutely have to step up to.

Given that the plastics sector has a high concentration of small and mid-sized businesses, many which have been facing profitability challenges, let’s explore some ways to recruit and retain top quality employees that can be done with little to no cost or human resources infrastructure.



• Differentiate yourself from your competitors — be innovative in where and how you recruit
-Consider posting positions in local religious facilities, ethnic papers, community centres, sports arenas, etc.

• Create a recognizable employment brand
-Use your existing employees to spread the word abouthow great the company is.
-Ensure every touch point of a candidate’s experience isa good one — they then become ambassadors for you in the marketplace.

• Create a strong career website
-Outline your mission, vision, and values — ensure it includes elements around the importance of employees to the success of the firm.
-Highlight the benefits/perks of working for the company.
-Include employee testimonials of why they like working for the company.


• Challenge employees with meaningful projects and ensure that you provide roles where there is real responsibility and authority (often a particular challenge to small business owners and entrepreneurs who have difficulty letting go of control of every element of the business).

• Demonstrate that work is appreciated — be creative in rewarding outstanding performance (doesn’t have to be monetary).

• Communicate future projects / challenges and encourage input / solicit employees’ ideas — gives a sense of empowerment in being part of the decision making.

As mentioned above, reward and recognition of employees is critical, both in terms of their work, but also of them as individuals as part of your team. Here are some easy no-cost and low-cost ideas:

• Get out on the floor — stop by an individual’s workstation or office to talk informally and say thank you.

• Written thank you notes and letters of appreciation.

• Recognition posted on the employee bulletin board or newsletter.

• Have an “Intercultural Day” where staff may dress in their cultural attire and bring in a dish of their ethnic food to sample (pot-luck lunch event).

• Provide frequent positive performance feedback and public praise.

• Distribute things like movie passes or gift certificates — managers can hand them out as a thank you, to recognize performance or just as random acts of recognition.

• Organize a recognition lunch with manager(s)/owner(s).

These ideas alone will not solve the issue of recruitment and retention for you, but they will contribute positively. You need to ensure that your operating and people management practices enable your employees to be successful, and in turn make the business successful.

The CPSC offers a product called the Virtual HR Department (VHRD), a website where you can download templates, tools and how-to guides that span the full range of people management practices. It offers very high value for the cost of subscription and will assist you to create an environment where you will be able to recruit and retain the quality of employees you require to succeed.

Michael Bennett, CHRP, is a managing director at Mississauga, Ont.-based Engage Human Resources Solutions Inc., a human resources consulting and outsourcing business whose work includes developing the VHRD with the CPSC. He can be reached via


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