Employers face recruitment, retention issues

Daniel MacEachern
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A Mannequin dressed in safety equipment looks out over the St. John’s Board of Trade 2013 Business Development Summit trade show at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s Thursday morning. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Labour issues continue to be the biggest problem facing St. John’s businesses, according to a new poll from MQO research.

The poll of St. John’s Board of Trade members was released Thursday morning at the board’s annual Business Development Summit, at the Delta hotel.

“By far … labour issues stand as the biggest factor hindering companies’ economic growth in 2013, at 34 per cent,” said Carolyn O’Keefe, MQO’s president.

“By a large margin, labour issues will have more of an impact on a company’s success than factors such as economic downturn, increasing cost of production and government spending cuts.”

Members were also asked about their plans to hire in 2013 and expand their workforce.

About 48 per cent of member companies plan to hire, about the same amount plan to maintain the size of their workforces, and about three per cent expect to downsize.

“What it means for us is that there’s simply not enough workers to fill the vacancies, and we as employers will have to look at alternate means for recruiting employees,” O’Keefe told the audience of Board of Trade members.

O’Keefe told The Telegram that people are seeing a tightening of the labour market.

“There are more jobs than ever before. We know Newfoundland is booming and there’s just not enough people to take these jobs so it’s definitely the No. 1 issue for Board of Trade members and the business community at large, and it’s going to be one that we’re going to need to tackle over the next year.”

It’s not just hiring that employers need to worry about. Other aspects of MQO’s research polled workers and found that even though about two-thirds of employees (65 per cent) consider themselves either “likely” or “very likely” to remain with their current employer for the next five years, more than half of workers — 58 per cent — monitor current job postings for other opportunities.

“The danger here is that if something better came along, they might be inclined to pursue a new opportunity,” she said.

Employers need to look at their employees through a new lens and adapt their policies and procedures to attract and retain, she added.

Their ability to do so may also be severly tested by outmigration from the province.

“In the mid-1990s, we probably had about 10,000 people leaving our province each year to go to provinces such as Ontario and Alberta,” she said.

It’s a trend that continued well past the year 2000, and although the trend briefly appeared to reverse itself — the province gained 1,877 residents in 2008-09 and 1,558 in 2009-10 — another 1,556 people left Newfoundland and Labrador in 2011-12.

The gain in population — during a worldwide economic slowdown — can be credited both to people moving, or returning, to Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as fewer people leaving during the time period, but a return to net out-migration is worrisome, said O’Keefe.

MQO’s research also touched on consumer trends, and found:

‰ Confidence in the province’s economy is not as strong as it was in January 2012 but is still the highest in Atlantic Canada.

‰ Consumers are in many categories relying less on a business’s staff for product information and more on their own online research.

‰ Newfoundlanders and Labradors are increasingly open to buying products and services online, including major purchases such as appliances and furniture.


Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Board of Trade, Delta hotel

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Alberta Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • Andrew
    February 06, 2013 - 08:46

    I think most of you don't have respected well-paying jobs because your grammar and spelling are pathetic.

    • Jay
      February 06, 2013 - 15:49

      Andrew, Yes, and your post was a literary gem. Check your own grammar.

    • caRogers
      February 07, 2013 - 09:38

      Andrew: so "most of you" meaning NLers. That makes you some one not from NL. Your ellequent 18 word comment is above reproach, is it? Where did you get your English degree? Perhaps you should add a dash of common sense before tapping the keys. Not enough workers is a pile of bull, there are plenty of workers. We have more well educated waiters and call center workers that anywhere. Having an education means having a student loan. People here take jobs to put a roof over their head, but rarely actually get into their field. Why, beacuratic BS. I have 80 resumes out at this moment. Only WHSCC sent a PFO letter the rest were pre screened by recruiting web sites for the companies with no responce. Then UI wants you to contact the company and ask why u didn't get the job? Calling the company is usless because they have outsourced their hiring, Round and round ya go.Meanwhile take a plane trip, walk into a place with a resume and you have two job offers by the end of day. The trick you need a job before you canbuy the ticket...and round and round ya go.

  • Tired
    February 05, 2013 - 15:52

    After reading all the posts here I am in agreement with what the majority is saying. After working many years away and now living in this province and still working away; Newfoundland companies have a lot to learn when it comes to the treatment of their employees. The merchant mentality is alive and well in this province. Employers want this and that for education/skills but they are not willing to pay for it, employers if left alone will work you to death and if you dare mention anything the common reply is "you have a job be grateful". Mico-managing is also alive and well here sure sign that the person doing the micro-managiang in reality does not know their job. Harassment/Bullying is also alive and well here in the workforce, you say to someone you don't like their behaviour they just laugh becasue they know that this type of behaviour is condoned. The way employees are treated at most employers place of Business in Newfoundland is a style of management that has not existed for the last 50-60 years. Other places the behavours and treatment of employees that is exhibited here in this province would not be condoned and the person or persons doing such behvaiours would be spoken to and/or fired depending on the situation. As I said at the beginning of this note I work away and I am always treated with respect and valued member of the team. Shame on Newfoundland for still keeping the Merchant Mentality alive and well.

    • Tired Too
      February 07, 2013 - 12:21

      I could not agree more with your comments - and I work and live in NL and have all my life!! Further to your comments, I cannot understand why, in a province that is crying for workers, we still have "able-body relief" that allows all these potential employees to sit home and have the rest of the population work themselves to death to support them.......

  • Katey Kaye
    February 05, 2013 - 12:51

    I am from St. John's, left in 2008, transferred to Ontario, or faced being laid off. The company has since recovered and asked me to return. I would give anything to move back to St. John's with my kids, but I am a single parent. I make 72k in Ontario and pay 1800 rent, and struggle to make ends meet. The offer to come back, salary would have been 46k. I looked at rent, 1500+. Salaries are not anywhere near what they need to be for the cost of living in St. John's. There are no programs to assist relocation. If companies want the talent to come back, they are going to have to pay a competitive wage, and they are going to have to help with relocation. Expecting people to pay 8-10k to move back, and make half the salary and have the same bills they have on the mainland is expecting too much.

  • Darin
    February 04, 2013 - 11:05

    Work here - why bother. I have been here for 10 years and there is no respect, either from governemnt or the business community. Recent talks of cutbacks in penions, etc.. have me poison. Government deficits caused directly by overbudgeting the price for oil and the purchase of equity positions in Hebron and Hydro projects. A government that robs money from our pension and won't pay in back with a fair rate of return that we would have gotten when the money was first taken. A govenment that uses creative accounting like no other entity - the unfunded liability is a dooms day scenario of everyone retiring today. A govnerment that bails out private businesses and allows employees displaced in those enterprises to come into our pension plan without having paid a single penny into it. And then we have private business - those of you who want to pay nothing; yet you want all your corporate writeoffs with vehicles, gas, free ice caps season tickets that you claim are used to reward customers, etc.....you thiefs. You have business leaders appearing on tv taking cutbacks and yet some of you are part of organizations that blindly rob money from government for "causes" that you are involved with. We get talked about because of our so called lavish pension plans compared to the private sector - but yet someone who works at McDonalds for 20 years can get their basic CPP, while mine will be clawed back from my pension that myself and my employer paid for. So, what really do I get from my pension? I can tell you from experience that when look at someone who has a provincial pension and compared it to someone who is getting CPP, OAS and GIS, the differnces are no a big as some will lead you to believe. One prediction, what goes around comes around - and you will see massive increases in Sick Leave and Workers Comp cases coming; especailly amongst long term employees who have lots of SL hours. Looking at possible cutbacks in pension, why would'ny I go of on SL for a year or two, collect the full salary and earn and extra 4% on my pension. And for the record, I am in a management position.

  • stephen
    February 03, 2013 - 17:40

    Wages are not keeping up with the boom in St. Johns,housing prices are unaffordable at 1980s wages. That is why most of the workers leave the rock. I would come back to St.Johns in a moment but my wife and I make great pay here in Ontario,we have high skill levels ,her in accounting and myself as a maintenance tech, I could make even more in Alberta. Newfoundland A Have Province with have not salaries.

  • Concerned
    February 02, 2013 - 11:40

    Agree! Between the talks about taking away from public servants while those we elected don't cut their salaries or pensions and the power trip managers treating their staff like crap who wants to stay here??? Many good people have left and many more are looking to do so. The cost of living continues to rise but don't even hope for a raise in the "have or have not province" (as they say, what ever way the premier is blowing on what day). No one here believes anything she says anymore. Too bad because we are the ones who will pay for the hugh mistake of voting her in. And why is Kennedy still around? Wasn't he supposed to have addressed all of the issues in the Justice System (big job there)? Wasn't that his justification for going into politics??? Guess he loves the power feeling too. You can really see it in him. I hope the unions go on strike, get the whole country in on it and make a bigger fool out of him than Grimes was, okay, than Grimes is.

  • Happily Retired
    February 02, 2013 - 08:57

    Add me to the list of people who feel that Newfoundland employers should stop treating their employees like chattel. Early in my career I worked in a professional position in Alberta. I did a good job and was treated with respect. I was paid fairly and I was given fair opportunity for advancement. For some reason, I returned to Newfoundland. In the same type of position, I found that the employer expected you to work for as little as possible, to work long hours without compensation, and to never be sick. All the while, I knew we were far more successful than our mainland counterparts. The attitude here was that if you don't do it, we'll get someone who will. Hopefully, one day, Newfoundland employers will lose this fish merchant mentality. Until then, they'll blame the employees, or government, or the university, or anybody else, except the real culprits (themselves)

    • a business man
      February 04, 2013 - 09:14

      On of my companies is a packaging company. The job of the worker is to put two bottles in a box, That is it. My objective is to make as much money as possible by paying as little as possible to the workers. This business is based on the premise that unskilled uneducated workers ARE chattel. They get nothing but their wagesI certainly retain the best employees, the top 10%. But average employees and those below are not worth retaining because the job is so easy and there are people who are applying for this job. So why would I pay more when I can just hire the next guy. Sure, this model would not succeed if the employees needed skills or competence to do this job, but the reality is that this job is worth nothing more than minimum wage. If employees get sick, they get replaced. MY attitude is that if you do done it, I will find someone else who will. Anyway, my point is that I am allowed to treat employees like chattel (it is legal), and it can be very profitable.

    • Happily Retired
      February 04, 2013 - 13:38

      To A Business Man, Nobody, skilled or unskilled, is chattel. But you made my point. Good For You, you're a credit to the Board of Trade and all other business organizations.

  • Shawn
    February 02, 2013 - 08:09

    What I hate is how even though this place is a "have" province I am struggling. My wife and I have 1 child (about 3 yrs old) and both of us try to work full time. We hardly see each other. She makes just under 13.00 and hr and I make just under 14.00 an hr. we have a mortgage and she has student loans. we luckily can juggle our shifts so we need a babysitter for only 1 and 1/2 hrs a day 6 days a week. If we needed daycare we would lose our house! I have to admit that I only have up to a high school education but that is because we can NOT afford to get me to school. Either paying it ourselves or getting a loan. We would like to have another child but can't afford that either. We are stuck. I went to these labour job fairs in the past and they don't even look at you if you don't have some kind of secondary schooling. Why? I'm going to be doing LABOUR! Not tinkering with computers or fitting pipes...I'm a more than willing person wanting a decent job so I can afford to go to school and get ahead. It's impossible. Some suggest use man power to get me a job, but I can't afford the wait it takes for the pay to kick in. Some suggest that we go on welfare, since everything will be paid and possibly even schooling. It's a sad day when that is one of my few options remaining. Then there is the talk about moving away, well if I could afford a plane ticket I just might, but money is even too tight for that. Neither of us smoke or drink and don't gamble, we have to visit the food bank for basic food needs about once a month. It's soon time to throw in the towel.

  • P F Murphy
    February 01, 2013 - 16:02

    Sounds like "Bridging the Gap" is trying to line itself up a few customers, eh?A number of employers think have you over a barrel because you haven't left to get better money so they think they can push you around; others have less education than the people they are employing and push people around to show they're in charge. Both reasons destroy the workplace climate and are the reasons people join unions to get better compensation, benefits and working conditions. With only 20% of workers in the Canadian private sector with a pension plan, I find it incredible that certification campaigns are not everywhere in the Can & NL workplaces so that 100% of workers are certified so they earn decent money and don't get disrespected. You'd think the Board of Trade would be all in favour of that because the workers could put their full concentration into their work and work to their full potential in an environment that demonstrated respect and provided security.

  • NewfieExport
    February 01, 2013 - 13:49

    I believe if employers treated employees properly there would be less turnover and a reduced need for retention efforts. I left my permanent position in NL to work in Alberta because management treated employees like peons instead of valuable members of their team(s). In Alberta companies know that you can leave one day and find a new position the next, so they pull out all the stops to retain worthwhile talent. A lesson NL employers could use.

    • K
      February 01, 2013 - 14:29

      I agree completely. After just moving back a couple of years ago after being gone for over a decade I was appalled by some of the treatment I first received. At first I attributed it to the people but then after a few months I realized everyone was the same. Some cases it is/was borderline harassment with a bit of paranoia thrown in on top of power tripping and micro management. I wouldn't stand a second for it anywhere else in the world I have worked. I certainly won't grovel and worship the ground under someone because I have a job. I should have given my head a shake knowing about the crappy roads, no downtown parking, crappy winter, half crappy summer, ridiculous price to vacation off island and massive, massive taxes. Good thing the planes still fly out. I'll be on one next year.

  • john s
    February 01, 2013 - 10:45

    greedy employers trying to bring in cheap labour pay your employees fair lots of workers around shame on the board or trade lets share the wealth for once in our history

  • McLovin
    February 01, 2013 - 10:25

    This article is very misleading. I am a current government employee in a temporary position and haven't been working in this position all that long (less than 2 years). As a single home owner, recent talks of cuts coming to the civil service has me worried and as a result I have been looking to see what positions are available outside of government in the event that these cuts happen and I am out of a job. What I have been seeing has not been encouraging. I am a University Graduate (Business) who has been working full time in my field of study since graduation nearly 10 years ago. While I would agree that there seems to be a fair amount of work out there, the majority of it cannot compare in terms of compensation to what I am currently receiving. The jobs out there that do compare are asking for ridiculous qualifications and experience. I think it would be worthwhile for someone, anyone to study our employment structure. It's fine to say that employers are facing recruitment and retention issues but who are these employers? What positions are they offering? How much do they pay? Are they looking for managers? Are they looking for entry level employees? Like I said, the Province is threatening job cuts and layoffs to the Civil Service. This may or may not be a negotiating tactic but in any event, there are a lot of employees at the Confederation Building who are looking over their shoulders who wouldn't mind finding more secure employment. Just a thought, maybe these employers facing the issues referenced in this story could hold a job fair at the Confederation Building or somewhere near here.

  • Bridging the Gap
    February 01, 2013 - 09:10

    Discussions continue concerning the labour shortages,while Bridging the Gap from Education to Employment (BTG) can help address those issues. BTG is a unique and successful program. BTG works with small, medium and large companies that are having trouble filling their job vacancies in specialized fields. We provide customized training based on the needs of the business, to underemployed/unemployed individuals that would love to work with this company but lack the necessary skills. BTG works with the companies to create “training” programs that are both in school and worksite-based and have participants learn while actually working with the employer. The learning is facilitated by an approved educational institution. BTG programs are designed to give the prospective worker the specific skills the employer is looking for in the most efficient way possible while providing a skilled workforce for the company. This program is available to new operations as well as businesses that are expanding and or need to hire skilled workers. It is unfortunate that companies are not made aware of programs like these so they can take advantage of the opportunity to train the underemployed/unemployed of this province. Too often the potential of these people are not recognized.

    • David Keat
      February 01, 2013 - 09:36

      It's not just companies that haven't heard of this program. What about employees....or potential ones? I'm looking for work and I've never heard of it. I'd like to hear more about it, though. Any chance you could provide some more info?

    • Shawn
      February 02, 2013 - 08:12

      I've never heard about this. Maybe they don't want everyone running to their door cause they can only help so many people at a time. Typical!

    • carogers
      February 07, 2013 - 10:05

      OK this is just too much, there is a program called Bridgingthe Gap is it?? Never heard of it though and by your own statment "It is unfortunate that companies are not made aware of program" The information is NEVER made available on a scale that ensures people come to know about them. I just Googled it and here is the info folks I hope you get ths SHAWN THIS IS FOR YOU:Central Newfoundland by "Bridging the Gap" The ... in these businesses, thus helping them bridge a skills/experience gap ... 709-729-4570, 690-6290 scottbarfoot@gov.nl.ca GOOD LUCK SHAWN GOD BLESS YOU FOR BEINGTOO PROUD TO PUT YOUR FAMILY ON WELFARE I PRAY THIS WORKS FOR YOU.

  • Blair Brookfield
    February 01, 2013 - 08:08

    Shut down all these useless Arts programs at MUN and start training people to be productive and useful. Too much money wasted on fluff.

    • Anne Rose
      February 01, 2013 - 10:34

      @David Keat a url that might help http://www.bridginggaps.com/about-btg/history