Employers get creative to address labour shortages, rising costs

Canadian employers rank highest for financial renumeration, apprenticeships, return to the office

Employers get creative to address labour shortages, rising costs

Rising costs, labour shortages, and retention remain the top business concerns globally for small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) heading into 2024, finds research from Peninsula Group. The research shows 84.2 percent of organizations list rising costs as their top business concern, while 45.6 percent name staffing issues, and 41.5 percent name retention.

The cost-of-living crisis and staffing shortages are having a significant impact, with 56.3 percent of global employers offering financial remuneration to help retention. Canada ranked highest in offering financial renumeration, at 64.9 percent.

Employers are also turning to reward and recognition to aid retention, with a 131 percent increase year-over-year. Mental health support was highly valued in all countries last year, and this year, 48.7 percent of employers continue to offer it - an increase of eight percent from last year.

Employers are also getting creative to offset the ongoing skills shortage with 46.5 percent investing in upskilling and training existing staff. Apprenticeships are also on the rise, with a 36 percent increase globally. Canadian employers especially are turning to apprentices with an impressive 217 percent increase year-over-year. The report also shows 25.7 percent of employers list recruitment as their biggest challenge staffing wise, with pay increase requests coming in second at 22 percent.

As for working patterns, 50 percent of employers have employees in the workplace full-time, 14.7 percent offer flexible working hours, and 10.1 percent have made hybrid working a permanent policy.

“2023 has been an interesting year for businesses around the world. With energy prices increasing, as well as staff and skill shortages, it’s fair to say employers have had their share of difficulties over the past 12 months,” says Kiljon Shukullari HR advice manager at Peninsula Canada.

Employers motivated to build businesses in 2024

Shukullari says that despite the adversity faced over the past few years, companies are motivated to build upon their business in 2024. Approximately 44 percent say their main business goal for 2024 is growth; however, on a less optimistic note, around 20 percent of companies say their focus for 2024 is simply survival.

Interestingly, the research finds that most employers are dealing with ongoing skills shortages with pay increases, with Canada using this method more than any other country at 80 percent (compared to Irish, Australian, Kiwi, and British business owners at 62 percent, 56 percent, 53 percent, and 53 percent, respectively), says Shukullari.

As for the trend towards hybrid and remote work, “businesses have begun to bring more and more people back to the office to increase productivity. Over half of employers surveyed in each country say their employees are back in the workplace full time.” The highest figure, again, comes from Canada, with over 53 percent of employers in agreement. In fact, the survey reveals that only a small percentage of businesses have made hybrid working a permanent fixture, with five percent of Canadian businesses doing so.

"Business owners are not out of the woods yet and will likely have challenges to face in 2024. To maintain the best staff, employers will need support their workers by offering benefits and perks that will help in productivity and talent retention.”