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How to tackle a shortage of employees

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Low birth rates and an aging population are creating quite the demographic storm in Quebec. For business owners, that could translate into a shortage of employees. It is more important than ever to know how to attract and retain your workforce. Your company’s survival could be on the line!

Many businesses are already feeling the pinch of a staffing shortage. To know whether you’re one of them, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a high turnover rate?
  • Do you regularly adjust your employees’ salaries in response to a request or a complaint (or worse, to counter another employer’s offer)?
  • Do you ever post a job and get no applicants who meet your initial criteria?
  • Do you often have to water down your hiring criteria to fill your positions?
  • Do you hire new employees at a higher rate and then have to adjust the salaries of your current employees?

If you answered yes to a few of these questions, your business could be facing a shortage of employees. Here are some quick and easy solutions to attract, hire and keep the very best employees!

Attract the right candidates: review your job postings

Do you always attract the same type of applicant? It might be time to re-evaluate how you do things to draw the broadest possible range of workers.

  • Clearly indicate in your job postings that people with immigrant backgrounds and people aged 55 and older are welcome to apply.
  • Specify how you stand out from the competition. Do you have great insurance coverage, flexible working hours or a social club at your company? 
  • Review your job postings! Call your CFIB Counsellor for help going over your postings to make sure that the improvements you have in mind have the potential to attract the candidates you need. We can even provide you with a template.
  • Advertise your job postings in organizations in your area that welcome immigrants. ALPA, established by the Quebec government, is one example.
  • Stay in touch with the educational institutions in your area (e.g., secondary schools, CEGEPs, universities, private training institutions) and make a name for yourself by offering internships, company tours or even mentoring.
  • Use social media to promote your job offers and your business.
  • Consider offering a referral bonus to employees that recommend candidates who then get hired and successfully complete their probationary period.
Make sure your employees stay put!

With an aging population, SMEs should consider retaining experienced employees and even bringing retirees back to work.
To encourage older employees to stay, you can:

  • Offer them more flexible schedules
  • Offer them part-time or seasonal positions
  • Give them summers off and hire students to temporarily replace them
Onboarding: an essential step

Welcoming and onboarding new hires is key to ensuring that your employees develop a sense of belonging early on. Plan ahead. Pairing new hires with seasoned employees can be an excellent strategy and also a great way to transfer knowledge to new employees.

Implementing an employee handbook shows your interest in your employees. We have prepared a template and a webinar to help you build the best handbook possible. When in doubt, call your CFIB Counsellor!

Plus, did you know that Emploi-Québec offers subsidies to improve your human resources management tools? Contact your local employment centre for more information (select Services for businesses).

Have you thought about automation and training?

Some SMEs facing a significant labour shortage have turned to technology and innovation to increase productivity. However, this kind of shift requires a transition plan for non-specialized employees. In a business that decides to fully automate its production going forward, for instance, machine operators could undergo training to become programmers.

Emploi-Québec offers support (in French only) to train your employees so that they can keep their job.


Thinking about hiring from abroad?

International hires could be an attractive option, especially for higher-skilled positions, such as IT workers. They can be pricey, though: it takes time and planning to integrate the immigrants that you will be hiring (housing, transportation, etc.).

Renewing work permits is easier for employees and workers who are already in Canada and who wish to extend their stay working for the same employer or for another employer. They can apply for a work permit online (reply within about 20 days) or directly at the border post or customs (same-day reply). You can find information on the Government of Canada’s website, or call your CFIB Counsellor to find out more.

Government resources for hiring immigrants
The government has a number of resources and programs to help you hire immigrants. Over a hundred community organizations receive funding from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion to help newcomers integrate into Quebec society and find a job.

The Quebec government announced it would invest $1.3 billion over 5 years as part of its recently unveiled national workforce strategy. We will let you know when new resources are available to you!