CALGARY, June 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Alberta workers earn the highest incomes
in Canada and that's putting pressure on the province's small- and
mid-sized business owners and operators.
ATB Financial's second quarter Business Beat Survey has revealed that Alberta business owners are struggling to meet the
salary expectations of potential and current employees.
Sixty-seven per cent of small- and mid-sized businesses say finding and
retaining experienced or skilled labour is an issue. Among those
businesses, 37 per cent say they can't meet the salary demands of
"Whether they are looking for skilled journeymen, technical computer
skills, equipment operators—the challenge is widespread across
industries and throughout the province," says Wellington Holbrook,
ATB's Executive Vice President, Business & Agriculture. "And once
business owners find employees who fit their needs, things like salary
expectations make it difficult to hang onto them."
High wage expectations are forcing business owners to come up with
creative ways to attract and retain staff.
Calgary-based DIRTT Environmental Solutions offers employees
(affectionately called "DIRTTbags") incentives like flexible work
schedules, a continental breakfast & hot lunch program and on-site
"As a manufacturer in a city where energy is king and salaries are high
we have to make ourselves a desirable employer in other ways," says
DIRTT's Julie Pithers. "First, we prove we are loyal to our people.
During the lowest point of the U.S. economic downturn we were asked if
we were going to lay off people in production. We knew we would never
get those people back in the Calgary market, so we cross-trained teams,
tidied up the factory and when that work was done, we organized teams
to work at local charities and paid them their regular wages."
According to the ATB Business Beat, other challenges with finding
experienced labour include:
Shortage of skilled labour
Cannot compete with competition
People "do not want to work"
Business located in a small community/ rural/ remote area
Small (fewer than 50 employees) and mid-sized businesses (fewer than 500
employees) represent 99.9 per cent of businesses in Alberta.
SOURCE: ATB Financial
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