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Some employers offering more in effort to attract and keep employees, consultant says

As the cost-of-living has climbed, employers are also offering benefits such as improved mental-health resources, flexible hours and wellness programs
David Bolton, regional director in Vancouver for Robert Half, a professional recruitment agency and employment services company. VIA ROBERT HALF

Employers trying to attract and retain workers should have started “yesterday” to address the current labour ­shortage, says a senior official at a recruitment and employment services company.

As the cost of living has climbed, a number of employers have increased salaries and offered benefits such as improved mental-health resources, flexible hours and wellness programs, David Bolton, regional manager for Robert Half Canada, said from Vancouver.

Employees want meaningful employment that keeps them happy and engaged, a good team to work with and recognition, he said.

Last month, 42 per cent of employers responding to a company study said they are offering higher salaries than this time last year, Bolton said.

The B.C. General Employees’ Union recently ratified a three-year deal with public sector workers that includes wage increases in each year, with potential cost-of-living adjustments in years two and three.

A study released in February by Statistics Canada found that 44.9 per cent of businesses planned to increase wages for existing employees within the coming year. Nearly one-quarter of businesses planned to boost wages for new employees.

And one-fifth expected to encourage their staff to take part in on-the-job training, the federal agency said.

As for benefits, a personal wellness benefit could mean giving an allowance for items such as ergonomic chairs to staff working from home, Bolton said.

Employees may want a hybrid schedule with a flexible work arrangement, something that would be challenging for some sectors.

“If you’re in a restaurant you can’t work from home. If you are loading a ferry, you also can’t work from home.”

Employers need to think about things they can do to make the job more attractive to prospective workers, he said — for example, a 25-hour-per-week contract while supporting someone’s education.

Employers can also look for ways to streamline their hiring process so they don’t lose skilled candidates to another workplace.

When it comes to retaining staff, Bolton recommends having regular conversations with workers to ensure they know how their careers can grow within an organization and to find out if employees are enjoying their jobs.