Small engineering firm boosts retention of new immigrants by educating all employees about its various employee-focused programs.
Unlike many other organizations, especially those in regulated industries, Teshmont Consulting recognizes foreign work experience when recruiting new employees, seeing the value of diverse experience. In fact, about one-half of the small engineering firm’s workforce are skilled immigrants.
However, retaining those skilled immigrants was hard when larger firms would offer higher-paying jobs, says Roy Vallence, senior vice-president of the Winnipeg-based firm.
Helping employees grow their careers
One way Teshmont has increased employee retention is by focusing on career development.
The company restructured a few years ago to create various career paths so all employees could follow a path that best suited them, be it to become a technical expert, a project manager or a corporate manager.
And to help employees along their development, the management team is constantly refining the annual performance and development program. Once a year, supervisors sit down with their direct reports to review performance, give tips for improvement and discuss employees’ career development.
“It demonstrates we care about our people and their careers. It also gives them the chance to speak their minds about what works and what doesn’t,” says Roy.
Tailored development plans
Based on what path the employee wants to take, his or her supervisor will develop a training plan to meet his or her specific needs. For skilled immigrants, those needs could include technical English or cross-cultural training, which
Teshmont offers through a partnership with Winnipeg’s Success Skills Centre.
The firm also helps foreign-trained engineers attain their Manitoba engineering designation, and supports all employees if they also want the American equivalent or a project management designation.
Spreading the word boosts engagement and retention
Teshmont also knew their total rewards package for all employees, including new Canadians, was better than their competitors’ but they hadn’t been communicating it well to employees.
To change that, Teshmont took part in the 50 Best Small and Medium Employers study, sponsored by Ontario’s Queen’s University, making the list in 2011 and again in 2013.
Making the list allowed Teshmont to really highlight the many benefits and programs that make the firm such a great place to work, helping to boost employee engagement and retention of new Canadians.
“It made the people here proud to work here,” says Roy. And since the ranking is primarily based on an employee engagement survey conducted by Aon Hewitt, “it also showed them we care about what they think,” he says.
Some of the most effective programs and benefits include:
- flexible work hours
- full health and dental benefits, including paramedical
- Health Care Spending Account
- Pension contributions
- Company sponsored social events
- group volunteer days for local charities
- celebration of all cultures
Working at Teshmont is more than just about a job; it’s about community, something many skilled immigrants are looking for when they first come to Canada.
“It’s a nice family atmosphere, it’s always been a nice place to work. I’ve been here 40 years. The challenge is to keep it a really nice place to work and I think we’re achieving it,” says Roy.
Tips for employers
- Focusing on career development tailored to individual employee needs and desires will show them they have a future in your organization and encourage them to stay for the long run.
- Create a sense of community and family to strengthen employees’ ties to your organization. This is especially important to skilled immigrants who are new to Canada.
- Create programs that boost overall employee engagement and make sure your employees know about all the benefits available to them and you’ll increase employee retention of all employees, including skilled immigrants.