TOTA: Staff Shortages – What Could You Be Doing Differently

November 20, 2018

Over this past several months it is clear that staff shortages continue to be a growing and escalating concern around the region. This is not a trend that is just being experienced in the Thompson Okanagan, but rather is occurring throughout the province and the entire country. It is also not limited to tourism but felt widely through other labour-intensive industries as well.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet or panacea that will ultimately fix this situation, however, in speaking with our colleagues at go2HR they had some excellent comments and questions that businesses should be considering as this labour challenge continues in to the foreseeable future.  We encourage you to take time to review and reflect on how your business is faring and what possible changes you could make to improve employee attraction, retention and retraining. Remember, this is not a short-term situation nor something that will have a quick fix, but there are businesses that are dealing with it better than others…. what can you be doing to make sure that it does not happen to you?

Thank you to Arun Subramanian and Ginger Brunner of go2HR for the following considerations:

1. Despite all the talk about shortages, some employers still maintain they are okay…what is it they are doing and how can you implement similar actions?

2. Recruitment should be a perennial activity- not something to be engaged in just when you need to hire someone- it needs to be strategic and deliberate

3. Business is booming- in all industries- with increased need for staff; how does your business differentiate itself

4. Demographic shift

Youth population has been steadily declining since the beginning of this decade and is set to plateau only by the middle of the next decade

A third of our industry’s workforce is youth (13% in other industries)

What do you do to encourage employees to come back next season?

5. Do you listen to your employees? Understand their needs? Follow up on their feedback?

6. Do you know the profile of an “ideal” employee for your business? Where can you find people of that profile? Target your efforts

7. Do you offer the best you can for your employees?




Housing (even help finding it would be appreciated)

Rewards and recognition

Positive workplace – Open communication, fairness, safe workplace

8. Culinary- are you hiring/supporting apprentices? Engaging with culinary schools?

9. Increasing efficiency- are you using technology (e.g. Online check in at hotels, like the airlines), reducing complexity (simpler dishes/menus e.g.), outsourcing (e.g. hotel banquet areas/restaurant run by a caterer)? Do you involve your employees in the process?

10. Do you connect with opposite season employers, to exchange staff?

If you are a tourism or hospitality employer in BC who is struggling to attract or retain employees, feel free to contact Ginger Brunner, Regional HR Specialist or 778-721-5523.

Glenn Mandziuk is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Region. He can be reached at

Share This