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Is it just you, or is there really a labour shortage?

YES! According to Statistics Canada, there were 731,900 job vacancies in the second quarter of 2021. Deloitte Canada says 30.3% of Canadian businesses are reporting labour shortages. 

Like almost every business owner, you are probably feeling the labour crunch and, if you reflect on the first quarter of this year, you might not have thought this would be your main challenge. At the beginning of this year, businesses were just trying to keep their doors open, wondering if they were going to make it through the year! 

What sectors and industries are most affected?

The labour shortage isn’t affecting all businesses equally. Hospitality, health care, manufacturing and retail are at the top of the list of industries experiencing shortages. However, I would argue that it is tough to find great people in every industry right now.

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) just published an article predicting labour shortages are going to be the new norm. And an article from Forbes stated that the labour-force participation rate has stubbornly stagnated over the past year; it is stuck near the lowest level since the early 1970s.

This is not a Saskatchewan or Alberta challenge. It is not even a Canadian challenge. It is a worldwide challenge. A recent study by  Deloitte insights stated there is a global labour shortage and there is competition across industries.

Why is there a labour shortage?

When I was completing my research, I found many different opinions about why there is a labour shortage. Government subsidies, lack of migration, unskilled employees and/or employees that need to be re-skilled, and unsatisfied employees looking to change careers are among the most common reasons cited. COVID has encouraged people to reevaluate their situation—many ageing workers retiring and some people are voluntarily quitting just as demand for workers rises.

Early this year, Anthony Klotz forecasted the “Great Resignation”. At first, there was doubt, but now we know that the great resignation is a real thing. (Read about it here.)

Is there a solution?

The labour shortage is not going away. At Essence, we have locations in both Calgary, AB, and Saskatoon, SK, and we have experienced the labour shortage first-hand, We have had to quickly adapt to the changing market, work with our clients, and change our recruiting and hiring practices as we are a leading firm that helps businesses find great people.

We can help your organization become a company of choice with a respectful employer brand that focuses on the employees first. If you cannot compete with higher wages, you will have to find alternative ways to recruit and retain employees. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and be creative.

How are you going to attract and retain employees without increasing wages? Here are some tips:

  • Be an employer of choice, focus on your employee culture
  • Ensure you have a strong digital presence
  • Stop relying on job boards that aren’t working. Get creative with recruitment.
  • Be proud of your company brand, market appropriately and clearly outline why someone would want to work in your company. 
  • Provide a flexible work schedule
  • Perk up employee benefits, re-evaluate the total compensation package
  • It might be time to change your management style—employees often leave bosses, not jobs!
  • Focus on culture add, not culture fit—open up to different people with different skillsets and experiences that would you typically hire.

Are you experiencing a labour shortage?

I would love to discuss the ways your organization is handling the labour shortage. Are you struggling to attract and recruit great employees? Maybe we can help. If not, I would be interested to hear more about some of your creative solutions.

Written by:
Tracy Arno
Published: November 15, 2021
Updated: April 30, 2022