How to Hire Workers During a Labour Shortage

Ross Video attracted candidates using social media
(illustration: Rose Wong)

In July 2021, Ross Video, an Ottawa-based company that creates technology and manufactures equipment for live broadcasting, began expanding its factory space in Iroquois, a town of 1,200 people an hour south of Ottawa, due to increased customer demand and a growing business. The expansion from 6,500 to 11,500 square metres would add about 100 manufacturing and production jobs—making and assembling items like switchers, routers and servers—to the factory by the estimated completion date of October 2022.

When the expansion began, the company was already facing a labour shortage at its factory. They needed to staff up quickly, especially since extensive training is required for these roles. So, in the fall of 2021, Cathy McCallion, recruitment-strategy and community-relations manager at Ross Video, teamed up with the marketing and communications department to brainstorm solutions for attracting new candidates.

The winning idea was a relocation campaign that highlighted the benefits of moving to Iroquois. With real-estate prices soaring in Ottawa, Ross Video figured it could convince eager workers to relocate to an idyllic town on the St. Lawrence.

They created a two-minute video to promote Iroquois, interviewing the mayor and showcasing nearby medical clinics, golf courses and beaches. The video included statistics about the factory’s 47-year history and its plans for expansion.

The month-long campaign launched in September on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. On these platforms, the company was able to target viewers in Eastern Ontario, from Brockville up to Arnprior, and east to the Quebec border. A short radio ad also aired on two stations that broadcast between Kingston and Cornwall.

The timing was good. The government’s CRB benefits were about to end in mid-October, so Ross Video was primed to attract people looking for a new job. The company was also eager to target former employees of a Procter & Gamble factory in Brockville, which had begun closing in late 2020.

Within a month, the HR department noticed that filling vacancies was becoming easier than it had been earlier that year. The company relaunched the video campaign for another month-long run in February 2022 to bring in even more candidates. Between October 2021 and March 2022, it added 55 people to its manufacturing division.

Teaming up HR, communications and marketing was a new strategy for Ross Video, but McCallion says it can be effective for other companies navigating a labour shortage. “Marketing tends to drive product sales, but in our case, the team is also about ensuring the public wants to be part of what we do.”