Manitoba businesses desperate for staff offering incentives to keep workers on board

Manitoba businesses desperate for staff are offering cold hard cash in some cases to attract and keep workers.

Many small companies are facing staff shortages as employees have found other jobs or are apprehensive about being around people again because of COVID-19.

Steve Kandilakis, owner of Steve’s Bistro, said he can’t open for as many hours as he’d like to because there is not enough staff.

“Less experienced staff to work, I even have to turn away small catering jobs because I don’t have the people to do,” said Kandilakis.

After laying off people during multiple COVID-19 lockdowns, Kandilakis said former employees found other work or went back to school.

So he’s been forced to guarantee minimum hours and pay well above the minimum wage to find staff willing to come on board

“I’ve never seen it like this, nobody is applying even if we put ads or not,” he said.

Recruiting firm Staffmax told CTV News businesses across all sectors are offering incentives to attract workers, including signing and attendance bonuses to flex hours and higher wages.

“Coming out of the pandemic, lots of job seekers are weary about coming back to in-office or in-person roles, so companies are having to get creative,” said Jake Gill of Staffmax.

Gill said some businesses are even including a referral fee for staff who recruit for the businesses.

“Could be anything from a few hundred bucks to quite a bit more depending on the role.”

The Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association (MRFA) said a recent survey of members shows only 54 per cent of employees have returned. For many restaurants, staff moved on during the pandemic. It said federal aid is incentivizing people not to work

“It’s been a tough grind to get a lot of those new staff in the building,” said Shaun Jeffrey, the executive director of MRFA.

The organization is launching an ad campaign to encourage people to join the industry. The ads are set to launch on Sept. 12.

“To try to get the message out and really our tag line in, our message is that we want you,” Jeffrey said.

The initiative is aimed at helping owners like Kandilakis who is carrying the load.

“I’m not 20 years old anymore or 30, and I can’t do this,” Kandilakis said. “There’s been days I feel like quitting myself. I feel like crying.” 


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