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Flexibility and cross-sector collaboration will win the fight for talent

Search for talent

The challenge of talent acquisition and retention is becoming an ever more pressing issue for local businesses, and was a major issue covered in the 2023 Welch LLP Business Growth Survey.

Every sector is feeling the impact of the talent shortage, including public, private and non-profit sectors.

The ability to navigate this challenge hinges on cross-sector collaboration and innovation.

The federal government could support this collaboration by rethinking immigration policies to provide for an easier transition into Canada’s workforce.

Businesses often leave this talent market untapped due to preferences for a particular amount of Canadian working experience, creating a catch-22 for skilled immigrants looking to find work. Bridging this gap would help understaffed Ottawa companies reach their growth potential.

At the individual business level, it’s all about flexibility. Recently, there’s been a real shift toward a candidate-driven job market and demand for opportunities that prioritize flexibility.

For companies that want to grow, this can be a real challenge if they’re not prepared to bend.

Ottawa businesses that haven’t adapted will miss out on top talent when hiring and lose team members to other companies that are willing to offer remote work, flexible hours and tailored incentives. 

Not having enough talent has profound ripple effects: growth stagnates and the risk of management burnout increases. Being strapped for internal resources also affects the ability of a business to maintain corporate culture and engage meaningfully with the community.

In the 2023 Welch LLP Business Growth Survey, we asked respondents what their biggest barrier to growth was, and the majority listed a mismatch with the current talent pool and business needs.

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For Ottawa businesses in growth mode struggling with the talent shortage, a few effective strategies can be key. 

First and foremost, flexibility is everything. Forget about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. opportunities that are 100 per cent on-site.

Companies securing top talent are approaching in-person collaboration purposefully, offering more flexibility with working hours, and rethinking typical hiring requirements (such as years of experience) to focus on culture fit.

Cultivating an atmosphere of support is also vital to enable team members to bring their best selves to work. Long-term relationships only flourish on a corporate level if we extend understanding and patience.

This ethos comes to life through open and transparent communication channels, policies allowing personal days, and wellness initiatives.

“One size fits all” approaches to growth paths and recognition are also no longer practical. Instead, rewards and incentives must meet the motivations of each team member.Incentives can include such things as professional development allowances, cash bonuses, tuition reimbursement, profit sharing. It’s essential to recognize and adjust when someone’s situation and goals have changed. 

For businesses, there are positive ways forward. Companies responding to market changes by listening to what their team members and job seekers want report higher retention levels, which in turn will lead to overall prosperity for our community.

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This article was written by Priya Bhaloo, chief operating officer at TAG HR. This piece first appeared in the 2023 Welch LLP Business Growth Survey, the city’s premiere survey and magazine that looks at business trends and confidence in the capital. 

To download your own copy of the WBGS magazine, click here.