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What's happening with the hospitality labour market in Canada?

The hotel and lodging sector is a strong and vibrant industry, currently experiencing record highs and is forecasting significant growth. The Federal Government continues to have a real focus on getting Canada’s available workers out of unemployment and into meaningful jobs – and hotels have front-line positions open.

  • 2 of every 3 of accommodation businesses see labour issues as a significant business impediment.

  • Rooms going unsold, business is being turned away, and expansion plans are being curtailed.

  • Operations are scaled back or doors open with insufficient staff

  • 33% growth in available full-time jobs supported through growing consumer demand for accommodation services by 2035

  • If the labour shortage is not addressed, the accommodation industry could experience a labour shortfall of 10,000 by 2035

We all know about this issue, the question is what to do. There are solutions, and I have written about them in the past. The solutions, are simple, unfortunately the problem starts at the top, with poor ownership & management.

What steps can I take to retain my staff?

Here are some strategies you can implement to improve staff retention in your establishment:

Competitive pay and benefits

Offering a good salary and benefits should be the cornerstone of your staff retention strategy. Recent surveys have found higher wages and more benefits to be the two main reasons why employees are looking to change jobs.

Paying a competitive salary to the staff you have trained and invested in would be cheaper in the long run than to keep recruiting and training new hires due to high employee turnover.

Training and opportunities for growth

Provide professional development opportunities to your staff. Proper training for new hires, regular feedback on job performance, staff upskilling, and cross-training are all ways to ensure your employees keep growing in their roles. Consider mentoring high-performing employees to take on bigger roles within your business. This will also save you the trouble and time spent looking for suitable candidates for those roles.

Employee appreciation

Showing your employees appreciation doesn’t necessarily have to be costly. You can also acknowledge the hard work of your staff through a shout out on your company’s social media channel or genuine praise in public. Encourage your staff to approach you if they face an issue, especially if they need accommodation due to medical issues and/or caregiving duties. Holding socials and contests around holidays with small prizes, such as gift cards, is another way your staff can unwind at work and bond as a team.

Healthy work culture

A toxic work culture is a recipe for a high staff turnover rate and low morale. A workplace that treats all employees fairly and with respect builds a loyal team who enjoys their work and values their employer. Here are some good practices to create a positive workplace:

  • Ensure your supervisors have the necessary people management skills to do their jobs well. Have a zero-tolerance policy toward bullying in the workplace. Make sure you are following your provincial law when it comes to creating and implementing a policy on workplace harassment and violence.

  • Promote a work-life balance. Ensure your staff is not overworked or neglecting their health or personal life due to work. Overstressed employees are at a greater risk of burning out. You must provide breaks between shifts as required by your province’s employment standards legislation.

  • Avoid playing favourites at work. Giving some workers special treatment only leads to bitterness and resentment within your team. Have the same rules for everyone. Reward merit.

Mental health support

The COVID-19 pandemic also created a mental health crisis. In the past two years, given the risks they were exposed to – especially front of house staff – employees in food services have experienced high stress and anxiety. This is often cited as among the reasons for their mass exodus to other industries and the current labour shortage.

As an employer, you should create awareness about the importance of good mental health in your workplace. Offer an Employee Assistance Program to support your staff.

A mental health policy that lays down guidelines on the company procedure for disclosing mental health issues and seeking accommodation is also a good practice. If stress is unavoidable in your workplace, consider providing stress management training. Review your work strategies to eliminate or minimize job stress.

Employee feedback

Getting regular feedback from your staff may help you assess what policies and practices are working and what needs to be improved in your work culture. The best way to do so is through anonymous employee engagement surveys. This way your staff can speak their minds without fear of reprisals. Exit interviews are also a good way to get honest and meaningful feedback.

Cheers and have GREAT WEEK!

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