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Workers aren't just looking for good pay in tight labour market: BCRFA

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Summary

Restaurants need to do more than just offer better wages if they want to keep workers in a tight labour market: BCRFA

As Vancouver's service industry faces a labour shortage, one group says businesses need to do more to hire, retain staff

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As Vancouver’s service industry struggles with a labour shortage, some companies are learning they need to treat their workers well if they want to keep them.

In a follow-up to a story we brought you yesterday about a local bagelry closing up, NEWS 1130 is hearing from an industry group which says it’s about more than wages.

Solly’s Bagelry in Vancouver told us yesterday that it was dealing with a staff shortage and rotating closures.

Ian Tostensen with the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association says in a tight labour market, workers have their choice of jobs, and it’s often not just good pay their looking for.

“One of the things we talked about is predictive scheduling, so that people know week-to-week the hours that they are expected to work.”

Someone like a single parent needs that in order to plan their life.

“How can we, as a business group accommodate that? We’re going to have to because we can’t just sit around and say, ‘We need workers’ and not try to do that.”

He says the restaurant industry has traditionally seen a lot of staff turnover, because many of those employees were students. “Now, we’re in a situation all throughout the economy — not just with restaurants — with a labour shortage that means employees can choose where they want to work.”

Tostenson says prospective employees are looking for a workplace in which they can feel engaged and can flourish. “They need to be coached. They need to be respected. We find that… when there’s that engagement, they stay. The retention is a lot longer because they want to work there.”

He believes bigger chain restaurants are generally doing it right. “They run their businesses the way that I’m talking about. It’s very professional because they have the resources to do that.”

But when it comes to a small business owner, “he’s got all these time pressures, lack of staff, costs are going up, and he or she is probably working six days a week, 18-hours a day.”

That means an independent restaurant owner simply might not have the time to implement policies that lend to as work environments of the same quality.

“What we’re seeing now though, is it’s imperative that they regenerate their business.”