The bank for Canadian entrepreneurs has made it official: there is a labour shortage in Canada. According to a study released in September 2021 by the BDC, 55% of Canadian entrepreneurs are struggling to hire the workers they need to sustain growth.So more than half of Canadian entrepreneurs find hiring difficult. On top of that, the study “How to Adapt to the Labour Shortage Situation: Hiring Difficulties Are Not Going Away,” which surveyed 1251 Canadian entrepreneurs and 3000 Canadians about their jobs, also found that:
- nearly 60% of Canadian entrepreneurs have lost business due to this labour shortage
- the most affected regions are Quebec and rural businesses
- the arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors are hardest hit by this labour and retention shortage, with agriculture being the next affected sector
The History of Workforce Innovation
Throughout history, workforce challenges have begot new hiring practices which receded once they were no longer required. We're at a point where workforce innovation is required again, so can history help us?
HIstoric Talent Acquisition Strategies
Julius Caesar implemented one of the first employee referral program, providing a reward of up to a third of a year's pay.
One of the first talent crises was during the Bubonic Plague in Europe where the labour force supply dropped drastically and surviving labourers were able to raise their prices sky-high. To combat this, European monarchies and ruling bodies passed strict labour laws, some including that anyone healthy and under the age of 60 had to work for anyone willing to hire them. In the end, these strategies failed and the European economy saw an increase in wages due to labour scarcity. While this strategy wasn't fruitful, at least we know for sure what not to do.
Throughout the twentieth century, one of the most successful talent recruiters was the military. One of their most successful recruitment marketing tools were recruiting posters. Think of the iconic, "I want you!" Uncle Sam posters the US military used during the First World War. However, Millennial and Gen Z workers are unlikely to respond to recruiter marketing slogans in the same way.
The history of workforce innovation is constantly shifting and it's important to remember what's worked - and what hasn't worked - in the past to inform strategies of the future. For example, it looks like Julius Caesar was on to something with his referral program. And current Canadian employers can provide their own incentives. In Canada, employers can pay for employee tuition in exchange for employee contracts.
Ease the Labour Shortage With These Strategies
The COVID-19 pandemic combined with an aging population have created a perfect storm for a labour shortage to occur. These strategies can help your business mitigate the Canadian labour shortage and sustain better business growth.
- Increase renumeration and benefits: according to an Employment Hero survey, the number one reason employees choose to stay with a business is for a salary increase. 47% of people surveyed said that a review of pay structure, offering alternative benefits like subsidies for student loans and wellbeing grants, would improve their decision to stay. If you are not able to offer a salary increase, the next best way to retain staff is to offer career prospects and training.
- Automate your business: BDC found that companies that have automated certain areas of their business are twice as likely to find hiring easy. Currently, only 25% of Canadian small to medium-sized businesses have fully automated one or more areas of their business.
- Adopt new technologies: Skills training and upskilling technologies are a great draw to a potential workforce because this tech shows employers are invested in job seekers’ success within the business. Other technologies, like recruiting apps and software as well as LMI data providers, can help employers target the ideal candidates.
- Use a formal hiring process: What BDC means is that business owners should have a plan for how and who they want to hire, and they should stick to it. Having a formal process keeps entrepreneurs organized, which is necessary when 61% of entrepreneurs must increase theirs or their employees’ hours due to labour scarcity, and their most valuable commodity, their time, is at a premium.
- Offer a complete compensation package: The study found that 49% of businesses need to improve their wages and benefits. 57% of workers want higher wages; that is one of the main factors that will cause a worker to leave their job in the next year, followed closely by a desire for more benefits, a feature desired by 32% of workers.
For the most part, these strategies remain underutilized. Eastern Ontario employers should adopt them to see business success and growth in the coming year. To find more resources for recruitment and retention in eastern Ontario, visit the Get Help With Recruitment page.
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