"... If you expect a long line of eager prospective employees to show up for your minimum wage job posting, it might be time to rethink your business model and your attitude.
When labour is in short supply, it should create upward pressure on wages, but B.C. businesses don’t seem to be getting the message, says Mark Thompson, a professor emeritus at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.
“People will take low-skill jobs if you pay them enough, but you have to make it worth their while,” he said. “Economic theory says if you are short of something, raise the price. If they want better applicants in the hospitality sector, they should be raising wages, but they aren’t.”
Retail and hospitality businesses have historically paid minimum wage to as many of their employees as possible, but some businesses have recently announced that they are closing or cutting hours of operation due to employee shortages.
“If you have structured your business and your loans on the basis of paying minimum wage, you are going to have to rethink your business model,” said Thompson.
Good workers have realized they can choose their employer, rather than the other way around.
WorkBC has postings for about 36,000 jobs across the province. About 68,000 jobs in B.C. have gone unfilled for four months, according to the Help Wanted report produced by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. That’s by far the highest number in the country outside of Ontario and Quebec.
Employers who don’t provide a safe and pleasant work environment will find it increasingly difficult to keep their workers in this climate.
“If the labour market is strong, people are going to move, because they have options,” said Thompson.
An informal poll by Postmedia of people who had recently left their jobs uncovered complaints of verbal abuse, unjustified payroll deductions, supervisors showing up to work intoxicated, and a lack of regard for employee safety.
Tina Keefe left a job at a Surrey call centre that she loved because managers were unresponsive to employee concerns and “treated us like crap.”
“After I left, I heard many more people left, including supervisors, because of the way it was run,” said Keefe, who now works for 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
Her new employer maintains a caring environment “where they value their employees and treat us very well,” she said.
Canadian wages have stagnated in part due to programs that provide incentives to companies to keep wages low.
“In the agriculture sector, they advertise jobs for minimum wage, and when no one applies they can import workers from Mexico, which is outrageous,” said Thompson. “What they should be doing is raising wages for Canadians.”
Some hospitality businesses similarly abused the temporary foreign workers program to staff their franchises and keep wages down. Now that the program has been curtailed, they are paying a price, he said.
Employers such as Starbucks have improved employee retention by offering perks such as tuition reimbursement, dental and vision coverage to its workers. The company has the lowest employee turnover of any quick service chain....."