If you're worried about attracting and retaining talent in today's tight labour market, you're far from alone. With the unemployment rate in Canada hitting a 40-year low,1 one of the top issues that companies face today is retaining key employees. In fact, more than 60% of respondents to the American Express 2019 Global Business & Spending Outlook cited “difficulty hiring and retaining talent" as a top challenge.
Canada ranks fourth globally for the highest rate of employee turnover,2 and the issue is exacerbated in certain industries. The great news is that with a few tweaks, forward-thinking companies can find and retain talent without breaking the bank.
1. Find creative ways to offer flexible schedules, no matter what your industry.
For many employers, providing flexibility has become standard, but the fact is that it is easier for some types of companies than others. With a little creativity, however, almost any employer can find ways to provide a modicum of flexibility.
For example, a retail or hospitality business could use an app or other system that would allow workers to easily switch shifts with each other. A construction foreman might assign crews based on geography and schedule workers at job sites closer to their homes, thus shortening their commute.
You might even find that an unexpected opportunity gives you a fresh idea for flexibility. Sometimes the opportunity to perform distributed work happens organically. Inclement weather-driven work-from-home days, for instance, may spark a top-down acceptance that a remote approach is easily adaptable and worthy of consideration.
2. Underscore the meaning or purpose in every kind of work.
Doctors know they're saving lives, but for some other employees, the difference they make might not be so clear-cut.
There are many ways employers can instill a sense of pride—from telling freight workers about the number of on-time deliveries they completed, to sharing customer praise with a restaurant worker who created an extra-special anniversary dinner experience.
Or, for example, tell your manufacturing employees about the families who are using the product they are creating, rather than focusing on finishing a certain number of widgets per day.
Likewise, a retail worker might be more apt to feel joy in helping a customer if she realized she was giving confidence to a young woman on her first job interview, rather than just selling a dress.
3. Think outside the box to better diversify your team.
Diversity is important in your workplace—but not just as it relates to gender or ethnicity. One way to inspire loyalty in your associate ranks is to hire those who might not be so readily employable everywhere—but who still have the skills you need. Other ways to add diversity include turning to older workers and parents returning to the workforce.
4. Promote team building.
There are many creative ways you can make your team feel valued and engaged. For example, if you're in the hospitality business, why not set up a swap with a local hotel so your staff members can take a turn as a guest for a staycation? Or, bring in a masseuse or a manicurist to pamper your staff during their lunch break.
It doesn't have to cost a lot—many American Express® business customers use the Membership Rewards® they earn to cover employee appreciation and team-building activities with gift cards or by tapping into the concierge services to score coveted tickets or reservations.
You also could consider developing a collaborative volunteer activity. Ask your employees what sorts of activities they prefer—from beautifying parks to staffing food banks—and then create opportunities for them to work together even if they work various schedules.
As every small business owner grapples with the challenge of retaining talent, it might be a good time to shake up your practices—and help inspire loyalty over more than the paycheck.
1 Adapted from Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, November 2018. This does not constitute an endorsement by Statistics Canada of this product. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/181207/dq181207a-eng.htm
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.