According to a survey of small Canadian businesses by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), employers are having hard time finding quality employees that will stay off Facebook during work hours – unless it’s to grow the business.

The CFIB survey of over 8,800 of its members asked Canadian businesses what they’re looking for when they hire, and to give a sense of what it’s like to work for a small business in Canada. According to Nina Gormanns, a research analyst with the CFIB, small businesses say employees are the single most important factor in the success of their business.

“Business owners believe they are doing everything they can to keep good staff,” said Gormanns, in a statement. “However, a different picture emerges when it comes to hiring: a lack of qualified applicants is the biggest issue for entrepreneurs and concerns about the quality and work ethic of new hires suggests a worrisome trend ahead for Canada’s workforce.”

Businesses definitely recognize employees as the most critical element to their business – 65 per cent of respondents ranked employees at the top, followed by product/service at 57 per cent, customer loyalty at 53 per cent and hard work at 42 per cent. And businesses are prioritizing offering benefits to keep their employees happy. Most common was flexibility in scheduling to accommodate personal issues, offered by 84 per cent of employers. Next was competitive pay ay 75 per cent and a wide range of responsibility at 73 per cent.

Still, hiring is a challenge for many small businesses. Some 67 per cent of employers said they had a difficult of somewhat difficult time hiring people in the last three years, with Alberta and British Columbia being the most difficult provinces for hiring. By sector, natural resources topped the difficulty hiring list. A lack of qualified applications was noted by 88 per cent of respondents, while 51 per cent said the salary expectations of their applicants were too high.

“Salary expectations that are too high is a more significant issue in Alberta than in other parts of Canada, for example, because applicants expect wages similar to those paid in the natural resources sector,” said Gormanns. “No-shows for interviews are also more common in Alberta.”

When it comes to keeping employees productive, employers saw technology as a culprit. When asked about whether they had observed certain employee behaviours than can negatively affect productivity, excessive time on personal calls, emails or texts was tops at 61 per cent, followed by excessive gossip with co-workers at 55 per cent and personal Internet surfing at 41 per cent.

cfib study

Social media can be a good thing though – 25 per cent of respondents mentioned using social media to grow the business as a behaviour that improves productivity they’ve observed from their employees. It was well down the list though – going the extra mile was in top at 81 per cent, followed by taking the initiative to pitch in, being positive and motivating others and showing a willingness to teach, train or mentor others.

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