CFIB: The Small Business 8-day Workweek

May 8, 2023

Small Business Owners Clock In 59 Hours A Week To Make Up For Labour Shortages


OTTAWA – The average small business owner works 54 hours a week, the equivalent of an eight-day workweek for most salaried workers, finds a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Those who say they work more hours because of labour shortages clock in even more, about 59 hours a week, 20 of which are spent compensating for staffing challenges. That means they spend 34 per cent of their 59-hour workweek making up for lack of employees.

“This is a lot of time that business owners could spend on other priorities such as growing their business or looking into government programs. But the impacts can also be felt outside of work. Many owners who work more hours don’t have time for family and friends, and it can affect their mental health and wellbeing,” said Laure-Anna Bomal, CFIB economist and co-author of the report.

The number of small businesses impacted by labour shortages has increased from 55 per cent in November 2021 to 59 per cent in September 2022, according to CFIB’s research. All provinces report that more than half of businesses are impacted, with Quebec (66 per cent), Saskatchewan (62 per cent) and Manitoba (62 per cent) being the most affected by staffing challenges.

Labour shortages primarily affect the number of work hours: among businesses experiencing labour shortages, almost three-quarters (73 per cent) reported the owners had to work more hours and 54 per cent reported their employees had to work more hours to make up for being short-staffed. Nearly half of affected businesses also had to turn down sales and contracts (48 per cent) or decrease their service offerings (47 per cent).

“Instead of being captains who keep their ships on course, short-staffed business owners are having to paddle just to stay afloat,” added François Vincent, CFIB’s vice-president. “Long hours and overtime can also negatively affect employees, adding to a low morale in the workplace.”

Among the sectors, the difference is even more striking. The share of affected owners working more hours is highest in the hospitality (84 per cent) and agriculture (82 per cent) sectors.

“With Canada’s aging population, the shortages will get worse if our labour market approach does not change. There isn’t one-size-fits-all solution, but governments can help by implementing targeted measures such as reducing the tax burden that will allow them to invest in employee’s compensation, training, and automation. Additionally, streamlining immigration processes is key to finding the talent that small businesses can’t find right now. Finally, red tape reduction is a strategic way for governments to act to give back time to our entrepreneurs,” Vincent concluded.

Read The 8-Day Workweek report for more details.

Business Examiner Submitted

Share This