Despite CFIB’s recommendations, and proposed alternatives, on June 1, 2019, B.C.’s minimum wage went up to $13.85 per hour. The liquor server’s minimum wage increased to $12.70 per hour.
Minimum Wage Increase Schedule
June 1, 2018: $12.65 an hour
Strategies to prepare for the minimum wage increase
This is a difficult proposition for any business, let alone a small business that already operates on thin margins (as most small businesses do), however, to follow are some ideas that can potentially be implemented now, to brace for the coming hike.
Update your business plan and review spending
Dust off your business plan (or put one together if you’ve never done so before, it’s never too late) and find out what the financial realities of a rising minimum wage mean to your small business. Now that you’ve had a look at the cold hard truth, it’s time to start problem-solving and see what you can do to deal with it. For starters, how much can you offset the impact by increasing prices, while being careful not to diminish demand? Are there any inefficiencies or luxury items in your monthly spending that can be eliminated or reduced? Can you cut inventory and lower warehousing costs? Finally, take a close look at your staffing levels. Can you automate some processes, put a cap on total hours for each period, or trim certain shifts in length? Are there technologies available to help you monitor hours more closely and cut waste from your salary expenditure?
Look for ways to increase productivity
If you’re going to be paying your employees more, you’ll want to be doubly sure they’re making the most of their time. Review your processes, looking for ways to streamline operations and remove inefficiencies from their workflow. Create daily schedules of responsibilities so your team is kept busy, rather than them waiting around to receive direction. Introducing certain policies in your workplace can heighten productivity (cell phone usage, social media, attendance, computer policy, etc).
Work to increase sales and revenue
The best way to compensate for increased wages is by boosting your sales figures (if it were easy, we’d already be doing it, I know). Whether you hire professional help to develop a marketing plan for your small business, or brainstorm some strategies together with your staff, there’s never a bad time to work on growing sales. Whether it’s introductory discounts for first-time clients, a loyalty program for existing customers, adding social media marketing to traditional advertising methods, or an innovative partnership idea that generates new exposure, be willing to embrace any idea that might generate more business. Another way to potentially offset the impact of higher wages is by emphasizing big-ticket, high-margin items. Consider reorganizing your brick-and-mortar store, if you have one, or featuring selected big-ticket items on the front page of your website to try and stimulate interest.
Engage and empower your employees
Be upfront with your staff about the financial pressures you’ll face as a result of the wage increases, and ask for their input in ways they can contribute more in return for improved compensation. Some people may surprise you with skills and abilities they haven’t shown before. Other groups may be motivated by friendly internal competitions between departments to see who can improve output the most. Employees who are engaged in their jobs and feel empowered by their responsibilities will be more willing and able to help your small business embrace any challenges ahead. They’re also likely to stay in their jobs longer, reducing costs associated with turnover and hiring new staff.
Wage subsidies and government funding available to you
The Canada Business Network is a wonderful resource from the federal government that gives information on all of the government grants, subsidies, and credits available to you. If you follow each link and enter your region at the top, you will find all of the possible funding sources available to you.
Specifically, follow this link to view wage subsidies that might be available to your employees, while they are being training. There is one in particular, the Canada-B.C. Job Grant that is worthy to note. You can receive up to $10,000 per grant towards your employees training. Each funding opportunity will have different requirements of a business/employer, however, they are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to eligible companies, so the sooner you apply the better!
There is “Hire a Student” funding called the Get Youth Working Program, funded by the B.C. government. One thing you may choose to do, to stay current with the B.C. government’s funding offerings is to subscribe to sign up for the B.C. FundConnect eNews. As soon as any new funding source is released, specific to B.C., you will get an instant update and instructions on how to apply!
Here are a couple other programs directly related to hiring students:
- Canada Summer Jobs
- If you hire students for the summer, this subsidy could help you cover 50% of their wages.
- Career Focus
- You could get funding to hire young people if you can give them useful work experience.
- College and Institutes Canada Clean Tech Internship
- Employers can receive a wage subsidy to hire an intern for an environmental position.
- Youth Employment Program
- You could obtain financial assistance to hire a skilled post-secondary graduate to work on your innovative project.
For Provincial Apprenticeship Tax credits and information, please follow the link provided.