labour shortage tips for small businesses
Picture of Carmen Leung

Carmen Leung

Carmen is Source Online's Director of Client Services, and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting, diplomas in Finance and Accounting, and a certificate in Business Administration.

5 Ways BC Small Businesses Can Navigate a Labour Shortage

If you own a small business in British Columbia, chances are you’ve felt the effects of a labour shortage. Attracting and retaining talent on the West Coast of Canada has been a common challenge for small businesses for years. The latest data from the BC Government shows that BC has one of the highest employment rates in Canada, with increasing numbers of job opportunities available in most sectors.

Given these conditions, small businesses in BC are faced with the challenge of trying to attract and retain talent. As a small business owner yourself, you may be feeling the pinch of an ever-tightening labour market.

To help small businesses navigate this challenging environment, here are five steps that can make all the difference:

1.Review Current Employee Policies

Small business owners should review current employment policies to ensure they are clear and fair. The goal of an effective employee policy is for employees to be able to easily understand what’s expected of them, without the need for too much oversight. Additionally, small business owners need to be able to do the same in return for their employees. Transparency is key to developing an employee’s trust.

Examples of employee policies that can help to attract and retain employees include:

  • a well-outlined policy explaining pay rates and payroll schedule.
  • a clearly defined vacation policy.
  • easily accessible disciplinary process.
  • explanation of employee benefits.
  • clear description of performance incentives and reviews as well as a defined pay increase schedule.

Are You Paying Your Employees Enough?

In addition to reviewing current employment policies, small business owners should consider whether or not they’re actually being fair with what’s been promised from the start – including pay rates and reviews. A lot of small businesses underpay their workers because it feels easier than having discussions about compensation that might be considered awkward.

However, small business owners struggling to retain quality employees should make themselves as equally attractive as larger employers. An effective option to doing so is to offer employees better pay.

2.Refresh the Recruitment Process

Small businesses must be proactive in their recruitment strategy in order to compete in today’s economy, especially considering big corporations can afford a greater range of potential employees.

This means small businesses can try developing creative strategies to market their open job posting to their ideal candidate pools. Online platforms such as Kijiji, or social media ads with local hashtags are useful to achieve a relevant recruitment process. 

For professional industries, business-oriented platforms, such as LinkedIn, are an ideal resource to locate prospective candidates. In the hospitality and customer service industry, Facebook and Instagram can help small businesses find their ideal employee.

Should you offer hiring perks?

Potential employees respond favourably to companies that provide new hires with unique perks. For example, a financial bonus paid upon the signing of a contract can be employed to fill empty positions. The signing-bonus recruitment tactic is becoming increasingly common and is used across multiple industries. 

Other examples of effective hiring incentives can include:

  • tuition reimbursement programs.
  • subsidize a portion of essential equipment purchases.
  • flexible hours
  • free in-house products or services.

By creating an environment where employees can take advantage of quality benefits like these, small businesses will be able to compete for greater talent and also help retain existing staff members.

Offer Meaningful Incentives

It’s a small business owner’s responsibility to offer incentives that will motivate potential employees. This may mean offering flexible work hours, bonuses or even competitive benefits packages.

Investing in Employees Leads to Lower Turnover

Small business owners can reduce turnover rates by investing in their employees. Offering incentives, including training and development opportunities, is a great way to not only keep them around but improve employee retention as well.

This approach will also help small businesses build up a loyal team that’s invested in the company’s success – leading to continuous growth for years to come.

Engage Leaders

Small businesses need experienced leaders who can help mentor new hires and coach them in the workplace culture. Hiring individuals with leadership skills could be key in overcoming the hurdle of ongoing staff shortages.

4.Don’t Neglect the Onboarding Process

When employers embrace hiring methods designed to ease potential onboarding challenges during the hiring process, everyone wins. Not only does it demonstrate an establishment’s commitment to efficiency, but it also ensures new hires feel engaged and valued.

This can be done by providing simple, yet comprehensive, onboarding training programs. With a well-structured onboarding process in place, employees are more likely to feel they are an important part of their team from day one.

Devise and Implement an Onboarding Checklist

According to Indeed, a new hire onboarding checklist should include the following:

  • Ensure all documents required for signing are prepped and ready before an employees first day.
  • Arrange for essential devices and equipment are ready-to-go before a new hire starts.
  • Set up accounts, login credentials, as well as create access to essential databases and computer drives.
  • Schedule an orientation.
  • Send out a welcome email to all team members
  • Set up a 30-day onboarding check-in meeting.

5.Explore Outsourcing Unfilled Positions

What’s Working Right Now?

A lot of small businesses are looking into “gig economy” platforms such as Uber or Airbnb that allow them to hire extra workers during busy seasons without having to fully commit. As an example, many small businesses in BC take advantage of the busy summer season by regularly hiring extra staff for peak times while keeping other positions filled by their regular employees.

This allows small businesses to avoid paying wages and benefits when they don’t need them but, it also gives small business owners a chance to keep an eye on whether or not this is a sustainable position over time.

Outsource Skilled Labour

Outsource tasks that support business operations. For instance, let’s say a retail store needs to fill sales and administrative positions. The owner of the store has the skills and experience to properly train and educate the sales team, but not the ones in administrative roles. 

Utilizing outside services better equipped in administration skills than the shop owner will free up valuable recruitment resources. Additionally, the results of the outsourced services are more likely to deliver superior results.

Examples of Outsourcing Skilled Labour

Hire Interns or Apprenticeships

Internships offer small businesses an alternative source of high-potential, motivated workers that they might not otherwise be able to access. Apprenticeships offer prospective employees valuable hands-on experience within their company that can be beneficial to their education or resume profile. These lower-cost employment strategies can help smaller businesses strengthen their foundation while helping new talent develop useful skills.

Grant funding may be available for small businesses that offer internships to post-secondary students and recent graduates. Some internship grant funding opportunities available to BC business owners include:

Source Online Bookkeeping Helps BC Small Businesses

Our team of skilled bookkeeping professionals is dedicated to helping small businesses. For more information about our services, please contact us.

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