Toronto’s current housing spike increased the cost of living. It matched Vancouver’s in Q1 2017, and may exceed by 2018. This has caused various problems for hospitality managers, and human resources within the hospitality and tourism industry in Toronto. Even matching the average 49% of salary invested in buying a home, many employees in the hospitality industry cannot afford their own home. Many households in Toronto now invest 75% of their income towards home ownership, compared to 80% in Vancouver. (RBC)
This, combined with the fact that outside of Ontario and British Columbia affordability trends are improving. The result, an exodus of qualified talent.
In Vancouver the trend drove many home buyers to Victoria or Regina and Winnipeg. In Toronto qualified candidates are moving to Barrie, Kitchener-Waterloo, or London.
Hospitality Employee Turnover
The panic buying trends in urban areas always start with an employee base moving to bedroom cities and commuting. This causes problems the establishment hasn’t dealt with before. One manager I know wakes up an hour earlier than necessary to find out the weather and traffic reports for the 404. If the weather is bad then contingencies need to be made for two things. First, the hotel or restaurant will be understaffed for up to two hours. Second, the anxiety level among staff will increase dramatically when the commuters arrive.
Commuting inherently increases the number of sick days. Employees are more willing to come to work when they feel under the weather, stressed, or fatigued if they only face a 30 minute commute one way. Even an hour on a subway is tolerable.
Commuting from Barrie down the 404 for 1.5 hours before reaching work, or from London down the 401 and then needing to face bumper to bumper on the Gardiner Expressway, and repeating the process after working long hours is too much for most.
This causes the second problem, a sudden onslaught of job vacancies. Often this is an emotional decision due to stress caused by the commute, childcare, and frustration of spouses.
Predict – Prevent – Protect
This strategy is not uncommon to many hotel managers. Restaurant managers are accustomed to a more fluid employee base. Predict when the problem will happen. Prevent as many employees from leaving as possible. Protect the investors.
While this trend may not negatively impact large franchises outside of the downtown core, they can be devastating for smaller restaurants and hotels.
Increasing pay is a short-term solution. The solution lies in offering emotional benefits, intangible benefits which will have tangible consequences on the management’s programs and plans.
The employee base will supply most of their own ideas. There is no reason for management to research, create procedures, and try and implement them. Let the employee base determine their own strategy.
The key is to let the budget be flexible. It costs less in time management, and have a lower fiscal impact, if a hotel adds a nap room, with a 30 minute time limit, or to add a lounge than it costs to replace 5% of your employee base. It is important to think ‘long term’ budgeting. This isn’t the time to start cutting services and perks to employees.
Whatever strategies you implement make sure they are concrete. They need to be a marketable tool to keep current employees, but they also need to be ‘measurable’ to entice future employees and lower the cost of new hires.