Amy Hawksworth is the Talent Acquisition Manager at Vega, a North American natural health food and supplement company. Vega has been named one of the Best Workplaces in Canada and has been recognized as one of the Best Workplaces for Women. The company honors a triple bottom line approach to business placing emphasis on people, planet and performance.
I reached out to Amy to discuss employer branding and work-life balance working in such a fast-paced industry.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and what your role entails as the Talent Acquisitions Manager at Vega?
I’ve spent the majority of the first part of my career in retail working for major food brands — I would say I’ve grown up being influenced by these brand leaders and their marketing strategies.
I went to school to complete a sales and marketing diploma and later, a degree in business and while working on my degree, I completed an HR course and instantly fell in love with the industry. From then on, I decided to direct my career towards HR.
Since then, I have gained experience managing general HR functions, have created end to end recruitment strategies, and have spent time building strong employment brands and finding ways to always improve the employee experience.
As Vega’s Talent Acquisition Manager, I’m responsible for the end to end recruitment process —this means sourcing candidates through online channels or reaching out to them and then taking candidates through the entire process right up until onboarding where they will be handed over to our onboarding specialist team upon hire.
What do you love about HR?
I love people. I've always been a people-person, and I needed to be in a type of career that allowed me to express my passion for that — HR somewhat came naturally.
In this role, I’m providing opportunities for people to land the career that they have always wanted - it's a pretty good feeling.
What was it about Vega that first caught your attention as a company you wanted to work for?
I love nutrition and wellness, and I was using the product to help with my health issues. From my own experiences, Vega became a company I was extremely passionate about.
I wanted to get involved with the company, so I took on a demo rep position with Vega — lots of talking to people on the weekends and selling products; I did this on top of my full-time job for almost two years. You can say I had quite the passion for this company.
When a Talent Management role came up with Vega, I knew I had to apply for it. I loved my job at the time, but I knew I had to join Vega because I loved the industry, the brand, it’s products, as well, my values strongly aligned with the company.
How do you define employer branding?
In a nutshell, employer branding is a process to which a company communicates it’s EVP (Employee Value Proposition) to its target audience in hopes of attracting and retaining top talent in the industry.
When you’re telling a brand story, you’re promoting the company’s employee value proposition (EVP); selling features that will attract and retain your target audience. Your target audience are those who align with your company core values and are motivated by the purpose and direction of the company.
Why do you think it's so important these days for job seekers to investigate employer branding than it was 5 years ago?
A recent survey came out from Jobvite.com saying that 75 percent of job seekers now look at the employment brand of a company before even applying. That’s a huge number!
A lot more people these days are looking to see whether the culture and the mission align with their individual core values. They look for the company perks, benefits and what other people have to say about working there. Like you would look at a review for a product before buying it, Candidates are now looking to employee reviews of their company on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, or the company’s page and if it’s not a brand or culture they align with, they won’t apply.
Whereas say five, ten years ago, candidates were more willing to sacrifice aspects of life outside work to get the job.
When creating employment brand strategies, you’re able to specifically target talent by communicating your company EVP and core values through a number of different avenues. In this way, you’re going to allow candidates to self-select in or out of the process meaning that if they do not align with the EVP or values, they won’t apply as they already know the culture isn’t right for them.
A well-executed employer branding strategy benefits both the organisation, it’s employees and its candidates.
How do you think the relationship between employer branding and work-life balance tie in together?
Work-life balance is one of the top company perks that candidates are looking for when applying to a job. Many companies will communicate work-life balance in their EVP strategy and integrate it as part of their culture. Whether the company has a flexible work environment, cares about its people, and environmental sustainability practices are all factors taken into consideration.
It all comes down to values again because this says a lot about your lifestyle. If your values align, there’s a lot more room to find and sustain that work-life balance.
What is your sense of what work-life balance means to the employees of Vega?
Work-Life balance means something different to everyone.
Overall, it’s having an equal balance between the time you spend at work and the time you spend outside of work —whether that’s working out, spending time with family, travelling, resting and so forth.
Now more than ever, candidates and employees desire a strong focus on work-life balance. They no longer want to work overtime and long hours. They want vacations and flex-days to spend time with friends and family or the time off work to work on hobbies and interests.
At Vega, we have an abundance of programs that focus on the wellness of our employees both inside and outside of work. This ensures that they are focusing on their whole-self, not just who they are at work. We have an in-house Vegan Chef who makes us lunch everyday, a smoothie bar and snacks throughout the office.
We got rid of the word ‘vacation’ and introduced Flex-time off which provides all employees with 15 days off a year, plus additional days should they need the extra time. In-house we have a crossfit gym and host daily lunch-time fitness classes which all employees are encouraged to participate in, a meditation room, and various benefits in the areas of education and wellness.
What are some of the more successful employee branding tactics or campaigns that you've done at VEGA?
I like to talk about our careers video because it's really quirky —I mean it's probably five, six years old but it shows candidates what the environment is like at Vega. A few things have changed, for example our lobby yoga in now in the gym, but overall we’re the same company, focused on the wellness of our people and our customers. We all have such a passion for the company, we are focused on health and wellness, we are driven, we love change and all of us are pretty quirky, and we love it.
The video is a great way for people to get a glimpse into our culture and who we are at VEGA. Some people will watch it and say “yes, that’s for me!” and some people are not into it - they wonder why on earth would we do a plank during a meeting?! Again, it’s another great way for people to self-select in or out before applying.
We also have a strong social media presence. We include our employees in our marketing campaigns and videos. Employees or Vegatopians as we call ourselves, are encouraged to reshare posts with the purpose of increase our brand awareness and showing others what it’s like to work at Vega.
When you're looking at the talent pool for hiring at Vega, what is the hardest type of talent to find and attract?
At Vega, we are extremely lucky to have such a strong brand presence. We attract a large amount of candidates in all areas from Marketing to Accounting. The most challenging recruit would probably be the Research and Innovation Department. The skills needed in this department are very specific and the talent pool in BC for this type of candidate is very small. We have to create targeted recruitment strategies for these roles to ensure that we are finding and recruiting the industry's top talent.
Do you have any advice for interviewees looking to apply at a brand like Vega?
Yes! Before you apply, check out the website, our LinkedIn and Glassdoor pages, and our social media channels. Understand our mission, core values and what we stand for. From there understand how your individual core values align with the company and the role you are applying to, because we will ask you. Values alignment is extremely important to us; we want you to enjoy the culture as much as possible.
Another piece of advice is to understand who you are as a person. Know what you like doing outside of work, your hobbies, what motivates you as an individual and of course, your core values, because again, we will ask.
Why? Because we care about you as a whole person, not just who you are outside or inside of work. We want to understand what you do for fun, and how you can bring that in to the Vega culture.