How ‘Canada’s Best Employers’ make employees into evangelists

Canada Skyline made staffers into superfans for a hiring campaign

In the fall of 2011, Skyline Group of Companies was preparing recruitment materials for a local job fair. One flyer mock-up included a stock photo of a woman holding up a sign emblazoned with “I love my job!” Looking at it, Martin Castellan, co-founder of the real estate management firm based in Guelph, Ont., had a moment of inspiration: Why not feature people who actually worked there instead?

The brilliance of Skyline’s revamped hiring campaign — aptly titled “I Love My Job!” — is that it features the faces and stories of real employees, leveraging a hard-won environment of workplace pride to win over new talent. “If the CEO of a company tells you it’s a great place to work, that’s going to resonate a lot less than if an actual employee says it,” Castellan explains. The so-called “say” factor — that is, workers’ willingness to talk up their jobs to others — is a hallmark of an engaged workplace, according to Aon Hewitt’s research methodology. On that front, Skyline is excelling: The firm has earned a spot on the Aon Best Employers in Canada list for the second year in a row.

Of course, Skyline employees’ enthusiasm did not emerge from thin air. While Castellan says staff morale has always been solid, it took a concerted focus on creating a positive office culture — for example, a weekly Takeover Tuesday initiative, in which an employee’s work is praised on the company’s social media accounts — to arouse the zeal now on display in its recruiting materials.

The “I Love My Job!” campaign has led to record job applications for Skyline, with many prospects citing the genuine testimonials as a selling point. “Genuine” is the keyword: None of what staffers had to say was vetted or filtered. “It has to be authentic,” says Castellan, adding that smart prospects will see right through something staged.

Skyline has always had an open culture in which employees feel free to speak their minds — and know they will be heard when they do so. That, Castellan says, makes the evangelism of its hiring materials feel so powerful. “If you want to create the kind of environment where you can do these types of campaigns,” he says, “you have to start with respect.”

This story originally appeared at CanadianBusiness.com

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