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5 ways employers can attract talent during a labour shortage

February 22, 2022
By Sally Abu-Samra

Many small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are currently having a difficult time finding new employees. (Heidi/Adobe Stock)

Labour shortages across various sectors have become quite the challenge for many small and medium-sized businesses.

A Sept. 2021 study conducted by the Business Development of Canada (BDC) found that 55 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are having a difficult time finding new employees. This in turn is affecting business growth and the capacity to deliver orders on time.

Andrew Caldwell, HR advisory manager at Peninsula Canada, says that “the frequent lockdowns these past two years may have led workers in the worst-affected sectors, such as food service and personal care, to upskill and/or look for work in other industries or re-examine their careers in relation to work life balance.”

So, the question then is, how can employers stay competitive during labour shortages?


“First, employers should adapt their recruitment strategy to the changing labour market. Do you offer what candidates are looking for?” says Caldwell.

He recommends the following tips:

Offer competitive pay and benefits

Whether you’re looking to hire more employees or want to ensure your current employees are satisfied, offering a competitive salary and benefits is key. You can offer benefits such as paid vacation, paid sick leave, remote opportunities, and more.

The BDC study found that the two main reasons for employees switching jobs is higher wages and more benefits.

A well-put-together compensation package that includes competitive pay and benefits will make employees feel valued and appreciated and they will also feel more encourage to perform better.

Offer remote/hybrid/flexible work options

If there’s one good thing that came out of the pandemic is the option to work from the comfort of your home.

With most employees working from home, these past two years has demonstrated that remote workers are just as productive as office-based staff.

As a result of the effectives of remote and the hybrid work model, many job seekers now look as this as a perk. The 2021 Hays Salary Guide reported that work from home was listed as one of the “most desired benefits by employees.”

Of course, this is only applicable for jobs that allow for remote work.

Change up your recruitment process

“As we know, first impressions are important. And the hiring process is your best opportunity to ensure the candidate has a positive experience,” says Caldwell.

Below are a few tips for a great first interview experience:

  • Providing clear and realistic job descriptions. It is good practice to separate the skills and qualifications you are looking for from “must have” to “nice to have.” Otherwise, you may end up discouraging talented applicants from applying because they don’t meet all the listed criteria.
  • Provide clarity and transparency during the recruitment process. Make sure you conduct the interviews in a fair and objective manner to select the best person for the job. We recommend structured interviews that include behavioural questions. When you find a candidate who is the right fit for a job, they’re more likely to stay with the company for a longer period.
  • Offering a referral bonus to staff is also an effective strategy. If an employee refers a friend for a job position and that person gets hired, then the referring employee gets a cash bonus.

Sell your company culture

The pandemic has left many of us feeling burned out from work, which has led some to reconsider their careers and current job positions.

For those looking for other jobs, they may not only be looking for a better position but a company that aligns with their values.

Therefore, it becomes important to explain what your company stands for and why, and proactivity demonstrate how your work culture reflects those values.

Don’t forget to focus on staff retention

You don’t want to lose experienced staff to competition during a labour shortage.

Avoid such a scenario by ensuring you:

  • recognize and celebrate the achievements of your staff
  • offer salary and benefits at par with industry standards
  • provide opportunities for career advancements through workshops, training, or mentorship programs
  • offer flexible work options to those who need it
  • mentor your employees to take on greater responsibilities and promote from within when looking to fill new roles.

Sally Abu-Samra is an HR writer at Peninsula Canada in Toronto.

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