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MNP Business Corner: Strategies to Make Your Business More Attractive as an Employer

13/08/2019


In the 2019 B.C. Construction Industry Survey, conducted by the B.C. Construction Association, 68 percent of respondents identified the skilled workforce shortage as one of the top five issues facing the industry. This made it the top industry issue by a wide margin; the next most pressing concern—the Community Benefits Agreement—came in at only 20 percent. While concerns about the shortage of experienced labour likely comes as no surprise, it underlines the need for construction contractors to do everything possible to recruit and retain the best staff.

Here are some practical strategies to consider:

Money Isn’t Everything – Know What Benefits People are After

In the past, workers’ main attraction to a career was the almighty dollar. Who was going to pay the most for the service provided? A changeover has occurred in the last few years: employers are now commonly being asked about their corporate values, contribution to the community, work-life balance and other considerations beyond just compensation. Even though wages are what pay the bills in the end, employees are increasingly weighing other factors in their decision. By competing solely on wages, you are entering a battle no one can win. Instead, look for other ways to value your employees. Pay for a tank of gas each month, buy them a gift card for dinner with their spouse if they have been working long hours lately or help with retirement planning — all these soft benefits can help to attract and retain staff.

Approachable Management is More Efficient

A common reason for people not taking a job or leaving their current employer is because they do not feel they match up well with the management of the company. An employee’s ideals must align with the company to have proper engagement at the workplace. Without proper engagement, employees are far more likely to leave. The first step is to make management approachable. Do employees feel they can approach management with new ideas? Efficiency and innovation are driven by new ideas. If an employee regularly suggests new ways of doing things only to have their ideas shot down, eventually they will stop bringing forward ideas or they’ll simply find a new employer.

Know the Investment Return on Training

One comment we hear consistently is, “I can’t afford to train a new guy.” In some cases, this is true in the short-term; however, the industry simply can’t afford not to train people. If things don’t change in the next few years, there will be no new blood to replace the old guard and we will be facing a labour shortage like we have never seen. We need to view training as a long-term investment and realize we may need to train several employees to get one good one. 

One useful resource to assist with the cost of training is the B.C. Employer Training Grant. Through this program, employers are eligible to receive up to $300,000 per fiscal year to provide training to new or current employees to develop their skills and certifications, upgrade skills needed due to automation, and enhance productivity. For full details, refer to the program website

Embrace Technology and New Ideas

The next generation of construction workers have been raised in an era where technology is key. With the advancements of construction technology, there should be many opportunities for construction firms to use artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality to improve productivity and efficiency of the building process and for training of workers. Contractors who embrace technology can expect to have better success attracting young people to a career in construction.

The day may come where your operator gets up in the morning and instead of driving to the work site, they sit down at their computer, log into a software and starts operating a bulldozer or grader from the comfort of their home. Not much different than the video games they are growing up with today. In the meantime, we must remember young people thrive on this technology and the worst thing we can do is not embrace it. We don’t want the construction industry turning into the next Blockbuster Video.

Foster Continuous Improvement and Development

People move around from employer to employer much more today. Based on current trends, young Canadians can be expected to hold roughly 10 or more jobs over the course of their career. The main reason reported is a perceived lack of opportunity to improve or develop in their current role. Gone are the days when you came straight out of school into a role and then stayed there until retirement. Rather, companies that succeed long-term will be the ones which foster a culture of improvement, where employees are encouraged to take extra training and develop new skill sets that meet the needs of the company well into the future.

Final Thoughts

A happy, engaged employee can often be your number-one recruitment tool. Sometimes a good measure is to have prospective employees spend a day with a current employee shadowing their role. This also give the prospective employer the chance to evaluate the potential hire, based on what they do on the shadow. Remember, it costs far less to keep a happy employee than it does to have to rehire and retrain.

Andrew Adams, CPA, CA, CFP is a Business Advisor with MNP’s Private Enterprise team. Working out of MNP’s Prince George and Quesnel offices and serving clients across Northern B.C., Andrew draws on his unique background as a small business owner to help clients grow their enterprises and achieve their long-term goals. Andrew can be reached at 250.596.4900 or [email protected]

About MNP’s Real Estate and Construction Services

At MNP, we believe in being your partner in business. That’s why all sectors of the real estate and construction industry across northern B.C. rely on MNP for industry-specific expertise and services that go beyond traditional accounting and tax. From project structuring and tax minimization to asset protection and succession, our Real Estate and Construction team looks at your operation from all angles and develops personalized strategies to help you succeed.

Prince George, Quesnel and Vanderhoof

Andrew Adams, CPA, CA

Partner, Private Enterprise

T: 250.596.8311

E: [email protected]​​​​

 

Williams Lake

Kane Fraser, CPA, CA

Partner, Private Enterprise

T: 778.412.4200

E: [email protected]​​​

 

Terrace and Kitimat

Michael Johnson, CPA, CA

Partner, Private Enterprise

T: 250.635.4925

E: [email protected]​​​

 

Fort St. John

Peta Best, CPA CA

Partner, Private Enterprise

T: 250.794.5105

E: [email protected]