Support for small businesses affected by labour shortages

The labour shortage is a serious issue for SMEs and Québec’s economy. The lack of employees has significant consequences:

  • 63% of business owners are working more hours
  • 45% of their employees are also required to work longer hours
  • 39% are turning down sales or contracts
  • 26% have cancelled or postponed projects

With the aging Québec population, the labour shortage will remain a major challenge for years to come.

Being an entrepreneur means constantly calling on your creativity and innovativeness to find the best possible ways to grow your business. Dealing with the labour shortage is undoubtedly difficult for a business leader, especially when the first consequence is to work more hours. There are several ways around this situation, and our business advisors are always there to assist you and answer your questions at 1-833-568-2342.

Here are some ideas that may be useful for your business:

1. Recruit internationally

International recruitment can be an interesting option, but it is mainly geared towards specialized workers—in IT, for example. The process can be very costly: you will need to invest a lot of time and think about integrating the immigrants that you hire (housing, transportation, etc.).

Governments have developed resources and programs to help you hire immigrants. The Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l'Intégration (MIFI) funds a hundred or so community organizations that support newcomers in their efforts to integrate into Québec, including job hunting. To meet the needs of as many businesses as possible, MIFI is present in more than 50 cities and has 61 points of service throughout Québec. MIFI also offers personalized guidance for companies.

This service can be of help if you want to:

  • Obtain information on the different immigration and financial aid programs available
  • Get help using the Employer Portal on the Arrima platform
  • Hire immigrants or people from cultural minorities already established in Québec
  • Hire international students with Québec degrees
  • Recruit temporary or permanent international workers
  • Help immigrants become functional in French
  • Facilitate the integration of immigrants through settlement and social and professional integration measures
  • Learn about the recognition of qualifications and admission to professional orders
  • Request an information session on an immigration-related topic

To access this support, simply fill out the online application (in French only) and an advisor will contact you.

2. Recruit further for remote work positions

With remote working becoming part of the culture in many companies, you can now recruit employees whom you may have previously been prevented from hiring due to distance.

If a job can be done remotely, you can hire someone from outside your city or even province. You can even recruit internationally, without having to go through the entire immigration process. However, we recommend that you verify certain formalities with your accountant, as this may have an impact on payroll in certain situations.

3. Recruit experienced workers

Many retirees would like to return to the workforce on a part-time or full-time basis. They are experienced people who often have greater flexibility in their schedule. There is even a tax credit if you hire workers aged 60 or older. You’ll find details later in this article.

4. Be competitive

Recruiting is a bit like sales and marketing. To attract candidates, you need to make your job offer interesting and post it in the right places. To make it as attractive as possible, you also need to sell your company as a place where everyone wants to work.

But it doesn’t stop with job posting! You also need to offer competitive working conditions. As a small business owner, you may not be able to offer salaries as high as those of larger companies. However, salary is not the only thing to consider. Job seekers are increasingly interested in non-monetary benefits such as flexibility, autonomy and opportunities for advancement.

In short, if you cannot afford to offer high salaries, bank on other perks and get creative: flexible hours, remote working, employee development opportunities, personal expense reimbursement (Netflix, gym, etc.), and more.

Here are some tips to help you with recruitment:

  • Review your job postings! Your CFIB business advisor can review them with you and ensure that the improvements you make are likely to attract the candidates you need. They can even provide you with a template.
  • Make it clear in your job postings that immigrants and people 55 or older are welcome
  • Mention what sets you apart from the competition, whether it’s insurance coverage, flexible hours, or a social club at your company
  • Post at organizations in your area that welcome immigrants, such as ALPA, set up by the Québec government
  • Keep in touch with training institutions in your area (high schools, CEGEPs, universities, private vocational centres, etc.) and make yourself known by offering internships, company tours, or even mentoring
  • Use social media to promote your job postings and get the word out about your company.
  • If possible, offer a referral bonus to employees for referring a candidate you hire who successfully completes the probationary period
5. Adjust your requirements and rely on continuous training

For some businesses or positions, remote work is simply not an option. That doesn’t mean that you can’t expand your labour pool.

Don’t look for a perfect match; there’s no such thing as the perfect candidate. Instead, focus on other aspects such as personality, values and commitment. Make your workplace a place for training and learning.

6. Keep your employees

Once you’ve invested a lot of money and energy in recruiting employees and training your work team, you can’t stop there: employee retention is an ongoing process.

But how? First, make sure your employees are properly welcomed and onboarded. Provide comprehensive training and make sure it’s sufficient to make your employees feel comfortable and confident in their duties. Then schedule regular follow-up meetings and, most importantly, performance review meetings. These steps are also an excellent way to minimize turnover.

Of course, you can’t always retain employees indefinitely, nor is turnover something to be avoided at all costs. In fact, a minimum of staff turnover is sometimes beneficial to the business. Remember: if a departing employee enjoyed their experience working at your business, they’ll recommend it, which will help you find new people!

7. Innovate

If none of the above solutions work and you’re still having a hard time finding employees, there’s one more solution you might not have considered: automation. For certain tasks, technology can be a precious ally in compensating for a lack of personnel.

What about financial support?

There are some financial support programs for specific hiring needs. Here’s an overview:

Government of Québec
  1. Emploi-Québec offers financial support when you hire:

    You may also be able to get technical or financial support if your employees need training to maintain their employment – Manpower Training Measure

    If you are a seasonal business and want to extend your season by providing training to your employees, you may be eligible for financial assistance. This training will be fully reimbursed and a wage subsidy may be granted at a maximum rate of $20 per hour per employee.

    To find out if these programs apply to your business, please contact your local Service Québec office – Service Québec Office Locator

  2. You may also be eligible for a tax credit if you want to hire, or already have, a worker 60 years of age or older – Tax Credit to Foster the Retention of Experienced Workers
  3. If you’re making the shift to automation, you may be eligible for the Tax Credit for Investment and Innovation to purchase computer hardware, manufacturing and processing equipment, management software, etc.

To learn more about the assistance offered by the Québec government, click here.

Government of Canada
  1. Each year, you can hire students for the summer through the Canada Summer Jobs program by submitting an application. You usually have until the end of January to apply for funding, which becomes available starting in June.
  2. The Government of Canada also offers an Investment Tax Credit if you purchase equipment. In addition, through this tax credit, you may be entitled to the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit equal to 10% of the wages paid to eligible apprentices.

If you have any questions about the assistance available or if you need advice on how to deal with the labour shortage, contact our business advisors today at 1-833-568-2342.