Businesses need to get with the harsh times

One residents explores some of the ways businesses can attract and keep employees

Businesses have to deal with reality, which today is the shortage of workers recently reported by some Black Press newspapers.

Catherine Holt and Christine Willo touch on some of the ways employers can find and retain employees, in the articles. I say don’t overlook salaries, as McDonald’s did in Seattle a couple of decades ago – they acted as though they thought the mandatory minimum wage was a competitive wage in that area at that time. When I hear a small business whine that it can’t afford to pay competitive wages I say they no longer have a viable business.

One overlooked option is to hire people who don’t have basic skills, train them, and coach them closely. That’s been known for years – many young people have not had good upbringing by parents and the school system. Employers have an opportunity to teach, though the business has to have enough activity to hire several employees thus justify one coach and trainer, though in a good environment experienced employees can help gently and keep an eye on newbies. (I’ve seen that at McDonald’s but it appeared that the experienced employees did not get recognition for that, and the anointed trainers couldn’t do the jobs right themselves.) Re-assignment of tasks may be appropriate to let the learners do things.

And don’t overlook productivity as a key factor – some businesses aren’t organized for efficiency.

Many employers and consultants are not swift. For example, a facility in the Okanagan was having difficulty finding and retaining employees, until they switched advertising agencies. The new one observed that the organization had been advertising opportunity for advancement, reality was little but it was a nice place to work – so suited people who needed low stress and stability. When the unemployment rate in Iowa went below 1 % circa 1999 a consultant was finding a need to advise small retail stores that when there were few customers employees should be doing things like organizing shelves.

Beware too that if times turn slack again, as they probably will with political turmoil motivating investors to be cautious so not expand and consumers to be frugal, individuals may have to accept lower wages than they would be paid today. (Hopefully apartment rents will decline, noting the number of units now under construction including residences for older people.)

And gummint gets in the way of giving people a chance, and in the way of housing. For example, the People’s State of Whistler prevented BC Hydro and Telus from brining in nice temporary housing for their employees during the 2010 Olympics. And Oak Bay refuses to legalize secondary suites, whereas other fiefdoms nearby did so years ago.

Keith Sketchley


Goldstream News Gazette