Staffing Shortages and How to Overcome Them

Window with 'Help Wanted' sign

The pandemic, coupled with evolving public health restrictions, has left some employers scrambling to find, hire and retain staff. Despite a national unemployment rate above 7%, 55% of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are struggling to hire the workers they need. Some industries have been harder hit than others, with Stats Canada quoting nearly 130,000 unfilled jobs in the foodservice and accommodation sector. While there is no easy answer on how to fill these positions, we are currently helping our clients develop creative strategies to entice workers back to their roles or to recruit new staff.

The Cause

Much of the current staffing shortage can be linked directly to the pandemic. Frontline workers in the retail and service industries aren’t willing to risk their safety for minimum wage when government benefit programs can allow them to stay at home, or even use their time to retrain in a new industry. While the benefit payments will eventually run out and many employees will be forced to return to the workforce, there needs to be a more permanent solution.

Another factor to consider is Canada’s demographics. Many of the industries that are hardest hit rely on part-time workers and fewer younger people are choosing to work. Baby boomers are either already retired or approaching retirement and younger generations simply aren’t as large. Canada has also seen a sharp decrease in immigration during the pandemic, which also contributes to the shortages.

The Effect

As businesses struggle to find workers, post-pandemic economic recovery is taking a big hit. Business owners are being forced to reduce their operating hours and delay or refuse customer orders. Existing staff are working extra hours to fill in the gaps and burnout is becoming more and more common across the board. Many businesses have had to limit their services until their staff logs are full once again.


The industries experiencing the highest staff shortages are, unfortunately, the industries offering the least in compensation. This issue is highly dependent on salary, with very few vacancies being seen in positions offering $60K or more per year. Now is the time for employers to consider their ability to offer incentives such as signing bonuses, profit sharing, benefit plans or even raising their compensation levels to the living wage.

LinkedIn, Indeed, social media, old-fashioned newspaper ads and help wanted signs – there is no proven method of when and where to find staff right now and we certainly empathize with business owners who are struggling. Let us partner with you by providing support for your business to recruit and retain top talent. True North HR can help you with job descriptions, job postings, interview tips and techniques and employer branding to help you now and well into the future. Let’s work together! Take advantage of our FREE 1-hour discovery call to learn more. Book now at