I was hired to join the Plan A KW/London team as a Talent Acquisition Coordinator in mid-February 2020. Little did any of us know how the next few weeks and months would unfold… I met with Lori 3 times over the course of a couple weeks before she decided that I would be the right fit for her team. Two of the interviews were in quick succession, one day after the other. The third wouldn’t come until about 2 weeks later.
In the interim, I passed on other opportunities to join other teams and organizations, but honestly, none felt like as natural of a fit for me as Plan A. There was just something about the way that Lori spoke about the business, the team she was building and her vision that really resonated with me. She was genuine and passionate about her work, and it showed, even in those first few relatively brief encounters.
During our final “interview”, we spoke casually about life and our plans for the future. We came to a verbal agreement, and she offered me the job on the spot. That was it. In comes the rest of the team for introductions, handshakes and high fives all around. What a welcome, and I hadn’t even signed the paperwork yet!
I joined the team and began working about a week later. Day one – job shadowing, online training, meetings – the usual “first day activities”. Day two – orientation and a hiring blitz. There’s no time like the present to get right in to things! I must have sat through 10 interviews that day. It very quickly became apparent that this was not your normal, run of the mill “staffing agency”. This place was different!
Full disclosure, my wife is a Registered Nurse at one of the hospitals in Kitchener Waterloo, so we’d been watching the COVID situation develop since Christmas time. We were unsurprised when we began to see the first few cases reported in Canada and the U.S. We were not surprised to see things take a turn for the worst shortly after the media coverage took off.
Within the next few short days and weeks, things turned very quickly. EVERYTHING was closed, and now, Plan A KWL was going to be working from home for the foreseeable future. Given that I was still training at the time, I was unsure how this would affect my role. Thankfully, Lori was able to keep the entire office team on board and working. I was so appreciative to get to stay on less than one month in to my employment. Moving forward, I would be responsible for screening candidates, scheduling and conducting interviews as well as planning and delivering orientation via Zoom.
As time went by, we became more and more comfortable working together virtually, scheduling meetings whenever needed. I pushed hard to keep the candidate frontline staff pipeline filled, knowing that the opportunity to hire new staff would very likely slow down considerably as the pandemic settled in, and people adjusted to life in lockdown. We averaged between 4 and 7 interviews per day for the first 2 months, and then, the pipeline dried up considerably.
As a team, we began exploring new ideas and strategies to keep new staff coming on board. I would say that we were successful in navigating this challenge, thanks to the focus, support, leadership and commitment of our Owner, Lori. Without her and Chelsea (Operations Manager) at the helm, things could have played out very differently than they did.
In addition to this, we found ourselves in the position of needing to hire another team member to support our recruiting efforts. We received great applications and over the next several weeks, decided on a fantastic candidate who has since joined our team, and is excelling!
As things began to open up again, we were pleased to have the opportunity to reunite in the office and return a little bit of normalcy to our lives and work routines. It was invigorating to come together again, and the energy was high. Lots of laughs were shared, as were thoughts and concerns about how things might look moving forward. It was decided that we would proceed with a split schedule between the office and continue working virtually a couple days per week. We are still maintaining this plan, and will be sticking to it for the foreseeable future.
The progression in to phase 3 of the re-opening allowed our team to get out into the community during a blisteringly hot stretch here in Kitchener and give back. We walked around our downtown area donning our masks and gloves, giving out bottles of water and snacks to those in need. Many were skeptical of our efforts, with inquisitive looks on their faces as we offered up “freebies”. Many were grateful for the gesture. We were even able to treat a few of their dogs to some fresh, cold water and a treat as well! It was a great day, and a wonderful and simple way to give a little something to those in need.
Joining Plan A has been everything that I hoped, and was told it would be when I went through the onboarding process. This team certainly “walks the walk”. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to join Plan A and help change the perception of “agencies” that we’re all too familiar with.
Moving forward, I’m excited for what the future holds. There is a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. I also remain guarded about the potential risks and impending “second wave” of COVID that is more than likely coming our way due to any number of factors. We as Canadians have done a great job so far of sticking to the guidelines, for the most part. To those who are doing their part: THANK YOU. My thoughts and well wishes are with you all as we continue to wade through these treacherous waters. Stay safe and healthy, everyone!
~ Murray Pinard, Recruiting Manager Plan A Kitchener Waterloo/London