Small businesses still challenged by employee retention, labour shortages

Small business owners are dealing with labour shortages, and more specifically, a lack of skilled labour

For the Townsman

According to the September 2014 Business Barometer results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, confidence in British Columbia, but labour has been identified as one of the biggest concerns. Small business owners are dealing with labour shortages, and more specifically, a lack of skilled labour, which is contributing to sales issues and production growth of their businesses.

According to Western Financial Group, a local insurance broker that specializes in commercial risk management, these labour challenges ring especially true in Cranbrook.

“We see this concern from our clients regularly,” explains James Hall with Western Financial Group. “Hiring great talent is only the beginning. Too often a small business owner finds a great employee, trains them and then ends up losing them. Employee retention strategies are key.”

Small businesses are looking for ways to attract and retain employees without just increasing salaries, which is not always realistic in a new enterprise. One major way to support hiring and retention is through an attractive group benefits plan.

“Employee benefit packages are an effective way to stand out in a crowded hiring market,” explains Hall. “We recently conducted a national study that found more than 60 per cent of Canadians say that benefits are vital when looking for a new position, ranking only behind salary.”

Tellingly, the study also found that 70 per cent of British Columbians are more likely to say that extended health and dental coverage is very important when mulling over a potential job. And although benefit packages can lead to further costs when workers start making use of their policies, small businesses are starting to mitigate additional expenses by taking certain measures.

“For instance, 80 per cent of employee claims come from prescriptions, but you can reduce the cost by using dispensers with lower fees and allowing for the use of generic prescriptions,” notes Hall.

With Small Business Week in full swing, the time is right to look at the challenges that local businesses are facing and the solutions to address them.  From the family-owned corner store to the local coffee shop, small businesses play a critical role in driving Cranbrook’s economy, and so attention to employee attraction and retention is critical.