• Recruitment, 
  • Retention

  August 31, 2023

Ask Sarah Best – August 2023 NBCTA Newsletter

In the August issue of the Northern BC Tourism Association newsletter, Regional HR Consultant Sarah Best answers a question from an employer who is struggling to recruit new staff during these challenging times. Read Sarah's tips about handling recruitment challenges by evaluating their compensation strategy.

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4 min read


I am really struggling to recruit staff, especially for my seasonal or part-time positions.  I know that it’s really hard to find people right now and maybe there just aren’t enough to go around, but I’m also wondering if it is the wages. Feedback from a friend who also owns a business is that paying more or having benefits for everyone would help, and I have heard that before…..but I am really limited on how much I can offer before I can’t make ends meet, and my benefits provider has a strict requirement that only full-time staff coverage is available for extended health and dental.  Is there something else I can do, or am I just stuck with being short-staffed?


Recruitment is very challenging in the current tight labour market, with rental markets, Canada’s climbing interest rates, and inflation contributing to financial stability and how job-seekers view wages and total compensation for roles.  Ideally, I would need to review what your current compensation strategy is across the organization to give a detailed response specific to your business, but here are a couple of general ideas to consider, based on the information you have provided:

  1. Evaluate the total compensation strategy for low and no-cost upgrades: Compensation for employees isn’t just limited to the hourly or salary wage – there are many components that go into total compensation strategy, including the amount of paid or unpaid time off, flexibility for scheduling or work location (such as remote work/work from home options), and the workplace culture and dynamic. Are you able to be creative and flexible in scheduling, and can you accommodate if staff have family or cultural related obligations that require they take leave?  Can you offer additional benefits such as remote work with your business?  Is there a budget for some low-cost perks such as free lunches or snacks?  Do you have a fun and amazing workplace culture and friendly, approachable core team members that get along well?  These are things to market in your recruitment strategy, if so.
  2. Consider a collaborative approach, in partnership with another business. You mentioned your friend has a business – do they also hire part-time staff? There may be job-seekers out there who are fine with the existing wage, but need more hours to make ends meet.  In this case, a cross-sector partnership can sometimes help provide full-time stability to an employee, without impacting either employer cost-wise, as well as benefitting both, as you share the total cost of training, certification or skills development of the employee.  An employee-share agreement does require flexibility on both sides to ensure scheduling for both businesses runs smoothly and the employee isn’t caught between conflicting schedules; however, the end result can be a supported employee who has full-time wages between the two organizations.  Not only can it work year-round for part-time staff, it can also work for seasonal staff, if you can connect with other tourism-based businesses who hire in your off-season, which gives year-round stability to employees, but still requires the business to be flexible regarding start and end dates of term contracts.
  3. Look into alternative health benefit options. If your existing benefits provider is limited to coverage for staff working full-time (many have a requirement of 25 hours plus to qualify for coverage), evaluate if it fits within your budget and would give you a competitive edge to offer health benefits that aren’t attached to hours worked for a company – such as a Health and Wellness Spending Account. Your existing benefits provider may already offer this option, or, you can create one on your own.  Benefits providers will often have criteria for what can be reimbursed under the accounts and an organization developed account will have more leeway, but generally speaking, this account could be used to cover dental costs, running shoes or gym memberships, medications or naturopathic supplements, or appointments such as the Chiropractor.  Your budget would dictate how much you could provide for each employee (ie, $200.00 or more per year), and the amount that is not used does not have to carry over to the next year, making this a perk that can possibly come in under-budget, if not all staff need to use the funds.
  4. Review technology options to off-set shortages. Although technology options are limited depending on the business structure, there are options out there to utilize the advances in tech that don’t include a high-cost investment from a business.  Here are a couple of examples, for different types of businesses; keep in mind of course, that cell service or wi-fi access would be required for these options:
    • Motels with key-code entry using online-only check-ins through email or text to offset Front Desk staffing issues; customers reserve rooms online, and once checked in, receive the keypad code for their room.
    • Restaurants using QR Code menus for direct to kitchen ordering; customers scan the QR code for the menu, which takes them to an online order Point of Sale system placed by table number direct to the kitchen, requiring only kitchen staff and a single designated server/bartender to bring out meals and drinks.
    • Historic Sites using QR Codes that scan to interactive videos that provide a talking-tour as customers walk through the site, to offset shortages in Interpreters and Guides but still share historical and cultural significance.

Compensation strategy may be impacting recruitment for part-time and seasonal staff, but there are low-cost and no-cost options that could provide strong return on investment and address staff shortages.

Does this situation sound familiar to you?  For more information about the suggestions above, or tailored recommendations for your specific business needs, contact Sarah Best at sbest@go2hr.ca

go2HR is BC’s tourism & hospitality, human resources and health & safety association driving strong workforces and safe workplaces that deliver world class tourism and hospitality experiences in BC. Follow us on LinkedIn or reach out to our team.

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