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4 ways to hire better and keep staff happy in 2017

Hiring lessons from Fidelity's award-winning HR team.

By: Alex Mlynek

Date: January 3, 2017

Fidelity Canada has revamped its hiring practices over the last few years, and that’s gained them notice. The company was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 2017, and in 2016 it won the National HR Award for Employee Engagement for the second year in a row.

So how do they do it? It’s a mix of strategic hiring, valuing employees and proactively seeking out and committing to students to fill their pipeline. Diana Godfrey, Fidelity’s Vice-President, Human Resources, reveals her HR secrets and explains how you too can hire better.

1. Play the long game

When it comes to hiring, Ms. Godfrey thinks a few steps ahead. She always looks to hire someone beyond the job the person will take on.

“When we hire someone, we hire them for the role, but also with the thought to their next role,” she says. “We’ve had to develop the philosophy of, let’s look for a person who demonstrates the capabilities and the attributes to get the job done, and then grow them into that role knowing that we can grow them into the next role.”

By hiring people who want to learn versus finding ones who already have every skill, the company ends up with employees who will take their work to the next level.

“They’re going to give you more,” she explains.

Offering employees a clear road to organic growth within the organization also means that they’ll stay at the firm longer, if not through their whole career, she says.

Fostering that kind of loyalty has kept turnover low – typically under double digits, says Ms. Godfrey, who has worked at Fidelity for more than 20 years – and helps the company save money.

2. Recruit eager students

You need a stellar recruitment program if you’re focused on bringing in staff who will stay with you over the long haul. And one of the ways to boost recruitment is to encourage your current staff to be ambassadors for the firm.

Fidelity started a campus recruitment initiative two years ago, with an ambassador program that features students who have worked at Fidelity. These students can advocate for the firm in a more meaningful way because they can speak to what it’s like to work there, she says.

Once you’ve found your rising stars, Ms. Godfrey says it’s important to keep them close so they choose your firm once they finish school. One way that Fidelity does this is by giving them experience in different roles – and sometimes in different cities (Fidelity has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal – each time they come back on a subsequent placement.

Another way Fidelity strengthens the bond between students and the firm is by offering some students part-time work when they’re back at school, if they’re studying near a Fidelity office.

“We have students who can’t wait to graduate to get here,” says Godfrey.

Indeed, the organization was recognized as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People for 2016, a recognition that the company is quite proud of.

3. Ask behavioural questions

During the interview process, Ms. Godfrey uses behavioural interview questions, like asking a potential employee to tell you about a time they failed. It might sound old-fashioned, but it’s a smart way to gain insight, she says.

“Asking people to describe for you experiences that they’ve had helps demonstrate their ability to deal with things,” she says. “Those kinds of questions help you understand how a person thinks.”

4. Give everyone a voice

Giving people the chance to be heard is critical to a happy and innovative workplace, says Ms. Godfrey. At Fidelity, employees are encouraged to offer feedback, no matter their level of seniority. “Employees will be called upon to be part of other working groups if they have the capability, or the knowledge or even the ideas,” she says. “We try to harness that, because the way that you become innovative is by finding ways to listen to everybody.”

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