Businesses are struggling to hire. Data from Monster.ca found that approximately 26% of hiring employers are having trouble finding qualified employees. As a result, companies have had to put their current workers on overtime and even turn away new clients and customers.
Simultaneously, the economy is reopening as vaccine distribution grows and COVID-19 restrictions decrease. This creates increased demand that companies, especially smaller ones, can’t accommodate.
This article discusses why businesses are having such trouble finding employees. It also provides some insight into how companies can attract talent in the current market.
Why it’s so hard to find employees
Lack of immigration
Canada’s workforce partially depends on skilled immigrants. Much of this immigration was halted due to the pandemic. As a result, our workforce is feeling this labour deficit’s effects as we come out of COVID-19 restrictions across the country. We may see the labour shortage lighten as immigration returns to normal.
Retirement of baby boomers
Approximately 16% of Canadians are over 65 years of age. As a result, there are a significant number of Canadians leaving the workforce due to retirement. Additionally, as this baby boomer generation leaves the labour force, there likely won’t be an equal number of young people replacing them. Further, the young people who do enter the workforce will be less likely than the prior generation to enter into in-demand blue-collar professions such as welding or plumbing. This leaves additional gaps in Canadian labour needs.
Change in career plans
In March 2020, many industries shut down. Restaurants had to cut much of their staff due to the closure of dine-in. Many also left roles at factories by choice due to the dangerous pandemic working conditions. Some of these people took courses or enrolled in post-secondary programs to re-skill into a career accommodated by a COVID-19 world. Restaurant staff may have turned into web developers — a role that remained in demand despite a global pandemic, and that’s do-able from the comfort of their home.
Now that many hard-hit industries have returned to almost full working capacity, the staff that businesses previously laid off are no longer interested in returning.
How to attract candidates
Raise wages and provide better benefits
Basic economics dictates that if there’s more demand than supply, prices go up. If businesses can’t find employees, everyone will ultimately need to pay higher wages to retain and hire new people. Companies would then forward these increased costs to the end consumer.
Organizations can also provide better benefits. This doesn’t always mean increased wages. For example, allowing employees to work remotely long-term (if possible for a business) is a benefit that employees may appreciate and encourages them to stay. Such benefits could also attract new employees. Other perks could include profit sharing, flexible hours, or comped meals.
Hire from abroad
Lobby groups, industry representatives, and provincial governments are working together to push for more temporary foreign workers. Hiring from abroad may be a method to beat the labour shortage. Those from less wealthy countries are often open to accepting a lower wage than their Canadian counterparts while having the same skillset.
Finding these foreign employees and the administrative process of obtaining their work visas may be an issue. But an agency like SkilledWorker can help businesses find talent from abroad and handle the immigration process on behalf of a business.
Focus on automation
If a business can’t find employees, it may be time to consider automation. While it varies by industry, there are many ways a company can reduce its labour needs through software or robotics. For example, restaurants can reduce their waiting staff by employing digital menus, which eliminate the need for a server to come to take a customer’s order. Some restaurants even use robots to bring food to the table.
There’s no definite answer to when the labour shortage will end. With many people leaving their industries due to the pandemic, it may be a while before new labour replenishes this supply loss. Ultimately, the solution may be to raise wages to increase supply, either from people who left the workforce or from abroad.