Employers looking to sweeten the deal for new employees amid labour shortage

Employers in Manitoba are looking to attract a younger generation to join the workforce amid an ongoing labour shortage.

Experts say there are enough workers here in Manitoba, they just aren’t actually in the workforce, meaning employers are having to sweeten the deal.

One business owner says they haven’t had any trouble with hiring as they have been focused on making their business a desirable place to work.

One day since The Forks Trading Company owner Brad Hewlett posted a job posting for a bookkeeper, applications have been pouring in.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response,” said Hewlett. “We’ve actually had a lot of people, way more than I anticipated come out for the job.”

He said he’s done what he can to make it a good job for a potential new hire, including offering a higher than normal wage.

“We also do birthdays off with pay, we have profit share, we do bonuses, 40 per cent discount on all the merchandise we sell. We are very flexible in terms of hours, we just try to make it as good of an environment as we can.”

Jason Gill, the vice president of Staffmax and Recruiting said this is something Manitoba businesses are having to do more of.

“They may be looking at paying more, not only to new hires but their current staff that they have, but they also have to look into flex schedules. How much work from home as well as just being a little more understanding when you know, people need time off to be flexible, because you want to keep those people happy,” said Gill.

According to Statistics Canada’s most recent labour force survey, employment in Manitoba is up 0.4 per cent since June and up 2.8 per cent since July last year.

Unemployment dropped by 7.9 per cent since June and 42 per cent since July 2021, with both Manitoba and Winnipeg’s unemployment rates sitting beneath the Canadian rate.

However, Fletcher Baragar, an associate professor of economics at the University of Manitoba, said the labour force itself hasn’t been keeping pace with the demand.

“The population is there, but what we’ve seen really in the last year, especially in Manitoba, is out of the population that is there, you could say the potential labour force, fewer or a lower percentage of that population are making the decision to actually go into the market,” said Baragar.

He said fewer people between the ages of 15 and 24 are joining the workforce and more people over the age of 55 are dropping out of it, which is what is leading to the labour shortage.

“To keep workers in the labour force and attract more people into the labour force, probably what’s going to need to happen is higher wages, better working conditions, better benefits.”

Those are factors that Hewlett is focused on.

“We get them in and enjoy our second little family and just have a lot of fun,” said Hewlett.

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