When Meta announced its plans to hire 2,500 Canadians over the next five years, the Canadian tech sector was worried about its ability to compete for Canadian talent. The Canadian tech talent pool is already strapped without these tech giants setting up shop on Canadian soil. Meta joins Microsoft, Pinterest, Google, and Klarna, who have all flocked to Canada over the past year. It feels like everyone is looking to scoop up top Canadian talent.
In light of this news, we sat down to chat with Marco Pimentel, CMO of Redbrick, the parent organization to a portfolio of companies including Assembly – acquired earlier this year by St. Joseph Communications – which he co-founded. Tasked with overseeing Redbrick’s marketing and business objectives across all products and platforms, Marco is focused on connecting the organization’s teams, nurturing creativity and talent, and aligning the company’s goals and objectives.
Marco shared his insights with Techcouver on the outlook for Canada’s tech talent pool, how to retain and attract top talent in a competitive market, and the importance of building culture in a hybrid or remote work environment.
Should the Canadian tech sector be worried about the Metas of the world?
MP: It’s a tough market for retaining tech talent, there is always heightened anxiety when large corporations begin to poach talent. However, there is a benefit to Meta’s arrival.
Companies like Meta or Amazon develop and attract talent to Canada. While mega-corporations make hiring more competitive, they also help develop highly skilled talent. Smaller organizations will have employees leave to work for the Metas of the world, but it works both ways. In return, talent will leave Meta and provide Canadian organizations with a valuable skill set. As a result, the larger companies have the potential to help develop a bigger, more robust Canadian talent pool that benefits the entire industry.
What can Canadian tech companies offer to attract top talents in the face of mounting competition?
MP: Ultimately, Canadians don’t want to work for the Goliaths of the world when David can provide something better. The Great Resignation has allowed job seekers to
focus on finding better titles and higher salaries. Outside of compensation, there are many values that talent seeks out in organizations, like strong company culture, meaningful work, a good reputation, and flexibility in their work-life balance. Organizations need to leverage their values and unique cultures to attract talent when facing mounting competition.
There’s no arguing that Meta and Google don’t have strong cultures – they do. However, the type of culture and level of contribution attracts different workers. Not everyone wants to work for larger companies as it’s harder to feel connected to the whole organization. Additionally, in large multi-national corporations, employees are less likely to contribute to direct solutions or help shape culture themselves. Canadian tech companies need to build upon their culture initiatives to ensure that employees resonate with their company values and teammates. The pandemic has caused a significant culture shift by introducing hybrid and remote working models. Engaging teams and nurturing a strong culture are critical aspects of retaining and attracting team members.
Speaking of remote work’s impact on job seekers, flexibility is another essential factor when prospective employees choose between companies. Over 60% of prospective employees indicated they would prefer a remote position over an in-person position. Employers are trying to meet the demand with 83.9% of Canadian information and tech jobs working from home. It’s a problem beyond Canada too, with hybrid and remote work continuing to affect the hiring practices of organizations across the world. Airbnb recently announced they would allow their employees to work remotely from anywhere in the world. Following the announcement, they received over 800,000 views on their careers page. It’s no wonder: people want to have a say in where and how they work.
Remote or hybrid work models are here to stay. We know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so providing your employees with a certain degree of flexibility is crucial to attracting the best talent. Remote and hybrid models also offer Canadian tech organizations the ability to widen their talent pool to smaller communities in Canada.
Q: What can employers do to entice their talent to stay in the face of the pandemic and remote work?
MP: When we look at enticing existing talent to stay with smaller firms, we need to consider our total package more seriously. This includes higher wages, implementing better policies, offering education options, and assessing the type of work and management employees are currently facing. If you want your top talent to stay, make sure you are creating the best possible environment for them.
If Canadian tech companies truly care about their people and want to proactively build a culture to retain their talent, they need to focus on engaging their people.
How can you build a culture in a remote or even hybrid work environment?
MP: In a remote work environment, it’s more important than ever to ensure your talent feels connected to the work they are performing and bonded to your team. Engaged employees are the lifeblood of successful organizations. Empowering your employees with a meaningful mission and purpose will retain and attract talent. The other way to build culture remotely is to build bonds between your team members. Organizations can start by celebrating their team’s big and small moments, like a birthday or client win. The important thing is to find ways to create connections online. Hybrid offers the option to build bonds in person, but allowing a virtual-first approach ensures everyone on the team is included. Creating a connection and a sense of belonging virtually is tough. Still, employees want to know that they and their work matter.
What is Redbrick doing to attract and retain top talent?
MP: At Redbrick, we are recognized as being an engaging, innovative, and people-first organization. Redbrick is a portfolio of digital companies, and we grew our workforce during the pandemic and the Great Resignation.
To better serve our incredible talent at Redbrick, we implemented flexible work hours. This provides our staff with a healthier work-life balance. It also gives our employees the option to choose where they work – be that in the comfort of their own home, in the office, or a mixture of both. Another initiative we implemented to retain and attract talent is our generous professional development allowance. People-first means investing in our talent to develop their skills. We recognize that mental health is just as important as physical health, and in addition to medical benefits, we offer a fully-funded mental wellness program.
At the end of the day, the arrival of large, international tech companies in Canada does add pressure to the Canadian talent pool, but it’s to our benefit. These new arrivals will drive Canadian tech companies to innovate and step up. In turn, they will help develop Canadian talent and, as employees decide to leave, Canadian tech organizations will benefit from their expertise.