Facing a number of challenges not experienced by their larger counterparts, medium-sized employers must leverage their strengths when it comes to employee recruitment, according to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The report examines the hiring challenges faced by medium-sized companies in Australia, Britain, Canada, France and the United States. In Canada, medium-sized companies include those with 100 to 499 employees, according to the report, which noted about 20 per cent of Canada’s workforce works for a medium-sized firm.

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The report noted that while medium-sized companies often operate in niche markets and grow more quickly than other businesses, they also have a number of unique challenges. For one, larger employers can typically offer a more robust benefits package, higher pay and more opportunities for advancement. But the report encourages medium-sized employers to play to their strengths: flexibility, speed and less hierarchy.

“Despite the advantage big companies may have in pay and benefits, they are generally less responsive to employee requests to work non-standard hours,” the report noted, referring to IBM’s decision to curtail its years-long practice of allowing employees to telecommute.

Other ways medium-sized employers can enhance their appeal to prospective employees, according to the report, include offering benefits that don’t necessarily break the bank, such as more favourable corporate travel policies or financial education services to help staff rid themselves of student loan debt.

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Non-tangible benefits, including access to key decision-makers, are also a big sell for new employees, the report noted. “If you’re an entry-level person in our social media department, you’re going to have the opportunity to work with the founders and with everyone from the [chief financial officer] to the lead designer,” said Mark DiMassimo, founder of DiMassimo Goldstein, a small New York-based advertising and branding company, in the report.

Medium-sized companies can take advantage of internships, vocational schools and government programs, according to the report. They can also encourage word-of-mouth hiring by offering employees bonuses for referrals. Many medium-sized employers are also importing talent from other countries.

The report noted how Canada allows companies to bring in low-skilled workers through to an expansion of the temporary foreign worker program. “Skills mismatch in Canada is a pretty big problem,” said Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, in the report.

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Also, with many baby boomers working past the traditional retirement age, the report suggests holding onto those valuable employees by offering them mentorship opportunities and providing benefits and flexible schedules that allow them to make decisions about their jobs.

For example, a forklift leasing company in the United States called LiftOne is using its older employees as mentors and advisors as they approach retirement. “The younger people are learning about customer service from the senior guys and the senior guys are learning about technology from the younger people,” said Bill Ryan, a former president at LiftOne, in the report.

The consequences of hiring decisions can be even more significant for medium-sized companies, the report noted. As a result, they need to take advantage of their strengths, including flexibility, watching out for local talent and being resourceful in developing new talent pools.

Read: Employers must prepare for retirees’ ‘encore’ careers

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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