employment agencies engaging small and medium sized enterprises

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  • Employment Agencies Engaging Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

    P R O M I S I N G P R A C T I C E S C A S E S T U DY S E R I E S | C A S E S T U DY 1

    E M P L O Y E R E N G A G E M E N T F O R C O M M U N I T Y B E N E F I T

  • Through funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU), First Work

    researched and developed a series of case studies to represent the experiences of employers,

    employment agencies and other organizations involved in employer engagement initiatives.

    The case studies profile innovative examples of promising practices that are intended to promote

    the hiring of individuals traditionally underrepresented in the workforce. The lessons learned

    suggest strategies that will inform future work in this area.

    Emerging from discussions at the Futures Conference, Canadas largest and longest running youth employment networking event, this series highlights important concepts in employer engagement.

    Sponsored by



    Through supporting the work of local youth employment centres

    across Ontario, First Work aims to help young people find and

    maintain meaningful employment that will help improve the quality

    of their lives.

    Visit us at www.firstwork.org

  • P R O M I S I N G P R A C T I C E S C A S E S T U DY S E R I E S | C A S E S T U DY 1

    This case study highlights the promising practices

    employment service agencies use to engage

    employers, thereby encouraging them to hire

    their clients. We interviewed agencies that

    have demonstrated success establishing strong

    relationships with employers and maintaining

    good job placement rates.

    In sharing their success factors, other

    agencies interested in refining their own

    strategies can learn from what works well,

    and can explore opportunities to enhance

    employer engagement.

    In addition, the perspectives of several

    employers who feel they have benefited

    from relationships with local employment

    agencies are offered. Agencies looking to

    foster stronger employer relationships can

    use this insight to enhance their techniques

    for addressing employers needs.


  • Hire Job Developers with the Right Skills

    Employer engagement is best achieved when skilled job developers are

    on the frontlines of an agency, working to appeal to the needs of both

    job-seekers and employers. An efficient job developer must have diverse

    skills. He or she needs to address the social aspects of the job, such as

    relationship-building and applying sensitivity when dealing with clients

    that experience barriers to employment. In addition, he or she must be

    able to manage the business-oriented aspects of the job, by understanding

    the labour market, profit-making and recruitment. One agency noted that

    the best job developers are those who have had personal experience in the

    business world, perhaps as corporate recruiters.

    Promising PracticesThe following promising practices for employer engagement were identified through discussions with the stakeholders involved: Hire job developers with the right skills.

    Develop a mutually beneficial relationship.

    Maintain communication every step of the way.

    Use a solutions-focused approach.

    Resolve issues before they become problems.

    Job developers should have one foot in the business world to have the drive to go out there and be competitive, to find jobs yet to still be like a social worker, to take care of the relationships, create a bond with employers and see the signals if theres something they need to do to repair a relationship. Employment Agency

  • When working together, your goals are not separate. Often, what is good for one is good for the other. It is about growing together and supporting a holistic relationship. Employment Agency

    P R O M I S I N G P R A C T I C E S C A S E S T U DY S E R I E S | C A S E S T U DY 1

    Develop a Mutually Beneficial Relationship

    To get employers engaged in and committed to a relationship with

    employment agencies they must feel they can trust the employment

    agency referring job candidates to them. Furthermore, they must feel

    that the relationship with the agency benefits them.

    The following are examples of specific strategies employment agencies

    use to build trust and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with


    Offer Tangible Human Resources (HR) SupportsEmployment agencies generally work with small businesses which

    typically lack human resource expertise and staff. Stepping in to offer

    concrete HR supports is one way of adding value to the employer.

    HR supports offered by agencies often include:

    Using social media and/or the agencys own online job board to help

    an employer advertise a job vacancy

    Crafting online client profiles so employers

    can peruse them when hiring

    Hosting job fairs on behalf of employers

    Helping with paperwork, such as payroll

    documentation, when a job placement

    is made.

    Offering HR or other external supports to

    employers even when they are not hiring from

    the agencys client base is a way to demonstrate

    that the agency really cares about the employers

    needs. For example, agencies might send out

    an employer-targeted newsletter, or offer

    professional development to an employers staff.

  • Anticipate and Respond to Specific Employer Needs

    The best supports are often those that respond to an employers individual

    needs. For instance, one agency submits customized employment

    proposals to employers when requesting they take on a client for a job trial.

    In one case, the agency discovered that a retail employer was struggling

    to find staff willing to work weekends. One of the agencys clients actively

    did want to work weekends, so the agency wrote a tailored employment

    proposal stressing to the employer that hiring this individual would be

    beneficial in this regard.

    Another agency spoke about the importance of anticipating employers

    peak hiring seasons and helping to save the employer time by screening

    applicants on their behalf before the company had even started to

    advertise the vacancy. One of the employers interviewed noted that they

    appreciate how their agency partner advertises jobs on their behalf to

    the general public, focusing on helping them find the best person for the

    position, rather than favouring their own client base.

    Another employer said they appreciated that the employment agency

    they work with understood that they were an atypical company and were

    looking to hire people capable of out-of-the-box thinkingsomething

    they prioritized over certain hard skills.

    Know When and When Not to Use Financial IncentivesEffective employment agencies dont use financial incentives to sell

    their clients, but instead focus on service and helping employers meet

    their particular hiring needs. They understand that employers cannot be

    bought with wage subsidies. Rather, employers must get on board with

    the idea that hiring employment agency clients can actually benefit them,

    helping them to achieve their bottom line.

    Of course, financial incentives dont need to be dismissed altogether.

    Subsidies should be used while a client is undergoing a learning curve or

    is catching up on certain technical skills. Ultimately, an employer must be

    engaged to hire an agency client because they need a good employee, not

    because they want to make some extra money off a short-term job trial.

    A financial incentive is appropriate if, say, it takes a little longer to [orient] a person to the job than it would normally.

    Employment Agency

    Ive come to trust this agency because theyre genuinely interested in where were going. After ten years [of working together], they know exactly who we are and the kind of staff we need.


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    Maintain Communication Every Step of the Way

    If a job developer goes too long without contacting an employer to check in, the relationship could be damaged. Employment Agency

    Once an agency has placed a client in a job trial, its important to support

    the employer by calling and paying visits periodically. Particularly in the

    case of clients that experience multiple barriers to employment, a job

    developers physical presence at the job site can make an important

    difference. One employer noted that when she hired a client with severe

    anxiety issues, the agencys job developer accompanied that client to work

    for the first week, helping her to acclimatize to the new environment. The

    employer sincerely valued this extra effort on the part of the agency.

    Post-employment communication is also critical. Employment agencies

    that follow up with employers at regular intervals after a completed job

    trial report having more frequent success placing another client with the

    same employer.

  • Use a Solutions-Focused Approach

    Most at-risk youth are just as successful as others. If you treat youth as at-risk, then thats what you get. If you treat them as successful individuals, then thats what you get. Employment Agency

    A solutions-focused approach means focusin


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