Skip to content.

MT>Ventures Roundtable: Strategically Growing your Organization in Today’s Economy 

On March 5, 2021, MT>Ventures hosted a virtual roundtable with founders and entrepreneurial leaders about how to grow your workforce featuring people strategist Leah Kim Brighton. Leah collaborates with technology companies to grow their teams as the Principal of Mirae Talent & Executive Search. Leah has worked with start-ups and scale-ups in both Canada and the US to attract exceptional talent. As the former Talent Acquisition Lead at Wealthsimple, Leah grew the team from ~70 to ~200 people. Leah shared her insights on how to grow an organization’s people operations and devise a hiring strategy. See below for our top takeaways:

The talent marketplace has shifted.

We are currently in an employer’s market where companies have many more potential candidates available to them than roles to fill. However, the top candidates are still highly sought after and organizations need to be strategic and competitive in attracting these individuals. The pandemic has shifted the marketplace for talent, where companies can hire across Canada and even globally without candidates needing to be physically located near the head office. This is great news for both candidates and companies looking to hire talent as there is now a broader range of options. However, this also means increased competition from international candidates looking to fill those roles and from international companies looking to the Canadian market for talent. Another consideration when hiring is that risk tolerance for some individuals has decreased as a result of the pandemic with candidates seeking more stable positions. While the pandemic has somewhat normalized working from home and more flexible hours, Leah has heard from many candidates seeking positions that they are missing the on-premises office culture.

Strategies to use when attracting talent depend on the companies’ stage of growth.

For companies that are in their initial growth stage, the most common question asked is how to attract top talent when the company does not yet have a well-known brand. A few helpful tips:

  1. Leverage your website and social media to share the mission and culture of the company and to start developing your brand. Candidates will be looking here first to get to know your vision.
  2. Focus on the interview experience of every candidate. When a company does not have a developed brand, every touch point with a candidate serves as an opportunity for them to experience the company culture and be exposed to the brand and its mission. Think of every candidate that interviews as a mini ambassador for your company.
  3. Develop a company blog with employee contributions or encourage employees to write reviews on a site like Glassdoor. This provides testimony of the employee experience and the culture.

For companies that are experiencing accelerated growth, the hiring concerns become focused on how the organization manages the volume of candidates and how they triage candidates. When a company is scaling fast, it is important to pay attention to the organizational structure of the company:

  1. Flat structures are not scalable. To prepare for fast scaling you should develop an organizational structure that streamlines communications and ensures consistent employee experiences across teams.
  2. Determine the most important challenges the company is facing and how the organization can bring in talent to address those challenges. It is important to not only pay attention to your current challenges, but the type of talent needed to supplement growth for a company’s next quarter, or next year. Often times, high growth companies plan for new product or service launches or new market launches but end up playing catch up with getting the talent needed to support these new initiatives.
  3. As you consider moving into new markets, be aware of the additional challenges including different labour and employment laws, payroll obligations and cultural expectations. Ask yourself why you are going to this new market and what type of support – and for what duration – you will need there. Will you ask members of your existing team to relocate, or will you hire in the new market?

The key to retention is employee experience.

There are many invisible institutional costs associated with losing top talent. Companies are not only losing the employee’s knowledge and skills, but also have the capital cost of searching for and training another employee. In addition, many indirect costs of high employee turnover are hard to measure. When we speak of employee retention, what this conversation comes down to is ensuring all employees have an impactful experience. You likely remember both the first and last day at every job you have had. The employee experience starts pre-interview and is associated with how the candidate initially views the brand, and continues to onboarding and training, career growth, support for diverse candidates, availability of employee resource groups, and the off-boarding process. The employee experience is something that employees take with them after they leave, so those key milestones of onboarding and off-boarding employees are critical. Remember, employees and alumni are mini brand ambassadors!

The more diverse your team is, the more likely you are to outperform the competition.

The importance of diversity in the talent pool cannot be understated. In a 2020 McKinsey Report on Diversity, a 2019 analysis found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. The data supports and strengthens the business case that the most diverse companies are more likely to outperform less diverse peers from a profitability perspective. Peoples’ imaginations are based on their lived experiences. Having a diverse team means having a team that is creative, innovative, and stronger in anticipating broader consumer needs and consumption patterns. Diverse teams offer a competitive edge, and as the data suggests, can significantly improve the company’s bottom line.

Exceptional talent should be tailored to your organization.

The reality is that finding exceptional talent can be very challenging. The first step is to profile what “exceptional talent” means to your organization. Your top candidate will likely be different from another company’s top candidate. Develop a profile of the skills or experience an exceptional candidate should hold. Note the importance of a candidate’s skills, and not just their previous industry or experiences. A candidate from a different industry may have exceptional transferable skills that your company can leverage. When looking for talent, a good place to start is within your network, and then broaden the search on LinkedIn, career boards and agencies. Keep in mind that some of the best candidates are happy and fulfilled in their current roles, so they might not even be within your candidate pool! Regardless of where you select the candidate from, you should also pre-determine what the interview process will look like to make sure expectations for the role are clear.

It is important to note that just because a candidate may be at a successful or well-known company and might have exceptional experience, this does not mean they will be the “right fit” for your organization. Think about what stage of growth your company is in and then where the candidate is at in their career and what their expectations are. A candidate that may have worked at a large company with over 1,000 employees may not be suited for a role at a small fast-growing startup, where they may be asked to take on additional tasks they typically relied on others to complete in their previous role. There are certainly individuals who can successfully transition from large to small organizations, but it is good to have these considerations top of mind to find the best fit for both you and the candidate.

For more information about our services or to contact our team, please visit our MT>Ventures site.