The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the labour market. As the pandemic spread, thousands of people found themselves out of work as lockdowns paused or eliminated many jobs. Now, as many businesses are opening, the reverse is true. Thousands of Canadian businesses cite ‘finding and retaining employees’ as one of their biggest strategic challenges. Likely, many different solutions will have to be deployed in order to solve these shortages. An employee benefit plan can be one of them.
After lockdowns ended, many employers began struggling to find workers. There are a number of reasons behind this trend:
- – Decrease in immigration – COVID-19 restrictions (both in Canada and abroad) have affected the number of people immigrating to Canada. This decrease in immigration is just one of the factors contributing to a worker shortage in Canada.
- – Some jobs are considered undesirable – Unfortunately, some types of jobs suffer from an unfair stigma. In Canada, most parents hope their children will graduate from high school and move on to university. This is creating many more university educated workers, but at the same time, it’s creating a shortage of workers in the skilled trades and construction. These jobs require training and skill (and they can pay very well) but not enough workers are pursuing them.
- – Retirement – For some older workers, they’ve lived through the hardest part of the pandemic and have decided they do not want to return to the workforce. They were already nearing retirement age and so have chosen to leave the labour force in favour of retirement.
- – Choosing not to work – For some Canadians, anxiety over the virus combined with the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) means they are choosing not to work. Collecting CERB sometimes means they are making more money than if they were working. Another group of workers have re-evaluated their life choices and are switching careers or changing how and where they work.
Employee Benefits as a Solution
There are certainly many components involved in solving a worker shortage. There are factors within your control (as an employer) and there are factors that are simply out of your control. Employee benefits is one factor that is within your control.
Sponsoring an employee benefit plan may not solve the labour shortage for the whole country, but it may help you attract and retain workers during this shortage. There are a couple of reasons why an employee benefit plan can be so valuable in attracting and retaining workers.
- Peace of Mind – No one knows what the future will hold, and that can be scary. An employee benefits plan helps provide some peace of mind for workers contemplating their future. Employee benefits mean that if the unexpected happens (for example, a serious illness or a disability), the employee will have support. Expensive medical costs or loss of wages due to illness or injury can have catastrophic effects on a person’s ability to maintain their lifestyle. For some employees, the peace of mind that comes with coverage through an employee benefit plan can be more valuable than higher wages. As a result, potential employees are more likely to choose a company with an employee benefit plan than one without.
- Feel Valued – Employees who are covered under an employee benefits plan are more likely to feel cared for. An employee benefits plan sends the message that you care about your employees and you recognize how valuable they are to your organization. This helps improve morale in your organization and fosters a stronger commitment to you and your company. Your employees are less likely to look for employment elsewhere and they’re more likely to recommend your workplace to potential jobseekers.
- Healthier employees – Employees who are covered under a benefits plan are more likely to fill their prescriptions, utilize medical practitioners and generally take better care of themselves. Cost can act as a deterrent for employees who need physical or mental support but if employees have access to coverage and are using it, they’re more likely to be healthy. People in good health are usually happier and more productive. This is good for employee engagement and retention.
Another key factor
Another factor that can help you deal with the labour shortage (and is within your control) is offering employees flexibility. Employees across many industries have experienced a drastic increase in flexibility for their roles. Flexibility in work hours or flexibility in work location means that many employees have found a better work/life balance. After experiencing this increased flexibility for a year and a half, many employees don’t want to give it up. When dealing with a tight labour market where you want to retain your employees and attract new ones, offering flexibility can be a big temptation for workers – and a progressive employee health benefits plan can be built for flexibility. Look at ways to give your employees the flexibility they want.
Good Advice is Key
Offering an employee benefits plan is one way that you can attract new workers and keep the ones you already have. It’s one aspect of the labour shortage that is within your control. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.