What we discovered by thinking outside the recruitment box
VersaCold is committed to your food. And when it comes to putting your food first, our people are our biggest advantage. Each year, our team safely and securely handles and ships millions of pounds of temperature-sensitive products. VersaCold works as an extension of our customers’ businesses, and our team is relied on to maintain the quality, value and safety of our customers’ food.
VersaCold employs 2,600+ employees at 32 warehousing facilities, offices and transportation terminals from coast to coast. We offer a secure working environment and plenty of employee benefits. But despite all of this, there’s a big challenge that we—and other Canadian businesses—are currently facing: record-low unemployment rates.
A cold reality
Quebec’s busy ice cream season requires VersaCold to hire upwards of 50 seasonal employees. But with challenges like low unemployment rates decreasing the number of eligible candidates, local competition and our cold working environment, there just aren’t enough applicants to fill these positions.
In an effort to overcome these obstacles, VersaCold introduced a referral program that rewards employees for referring friends and family. But really moving the needle required us to do some out-of-the-box thinking.
Turning challenge into opportunity
Devon Melrose, HR Manager for Quebec and Atlantic Canada, shared with us some recruitment challenges and how VersaCold continues to finds new, innovative ways to solve them. Melrose recalls a situation that might have been a contributing factor in changing the recruitment game for VersaCold.
“A gentleman stopped in to one of our Quebec offices and shared that he was a new Canadian from Nigeria and was interested in applying for a job,” says Melrose. “Instead of just handing his résumé off to HR, the supervisor was quick on his feet to recognize an opportunity. He called HR up right away and they met with the candidate on the spot. Turned out, his personality made him a great fit for the warehouse and he even knew a number of other people in his community that were looking for work.”
This sparked a realization for Melrose and the team at VersaCold. “When you’re putting a job posting out, you’re essentially putting out a wish list of qualities you’re looking for. We started to ask ourselves, are all of those things really critical? At the end of the day, if someone is trustworthy and motivated to learn, the rest of the skills can be developed in training.”
Stepping outside our comfort zone allowed VersaCold to open the door to a number of motivated, performance-driven employees. Many have since transitioned from seasonal to permanent.
Investing in our employees
Although it wasn’t a quick fix for VersaCold, it was important to make adjustments to accommodate these new employees. Realizing many new Canadians don’t have forklift experience, a big investment in training was required to bring them up to par in VersaCold’s safety standards. And since all training and pre-shift meetings were conducted in French, time and money was also invested to create an English version.
But, keeping a positive outlook, Melrose saw the silver lining in all of this additional training. “Employees coming in with previous experience could have bad habits or practices that aren’t exactly aligned with VersaCold’s standards,” he says. “This extensive training means new employees follow VersaCold health and safety standards and VersaCold forklift standards. They’re being trained in a VersaCold-specific way, right out of the gate, which might set them up for greater success in the long run.”
Investing in our communities
VersaCold takes our corporate citizenship very seriously, and we pride ourselves on the initiatives that continue to show our commitment to local communities. From our recent partnership with Food Banks Canada to our reduced CO2 emissions footprint through Bullfrog Power, we’re always trying to find new ways to make a difference.
Putting our people and communities first enables us to put your food first. This recruitment plan allows us to give new Canadians an opportunity to get into the job market while also preparing them with skills and training that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. It’s a great way VersaCold can not only invest in our company, but also in our communities. Because when our communities succeed, we all do.