Should Manitoba Business Grow Their Workforce During the Pandemic?

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Pinnacle and Probe Research insight may surprise you.

Probe Research has been conducting the Manitoba Business Leaders Index annually since 2005, which surveys a cross-section of CEOs and business owners in the province about the current business climate. For the first time, Pinnacle partnered with Probe Research to collect specific data on hiring.

In these ever-changing times, we want to pass along the survey results to our clients and business partners. We hope this information will facilitate your business forecasting and provide some comparative insight on where Manitoba businesses are at.

Although we are still, very much, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the results suggest Manitoba business executives continue to look toward and plan for the future. For many, this future includes growing their workforce.

Read on for other highlights from the 2021 survey:

Operational Status

Unsurprisingly, the responses show that 40% of businesses are still operating at reduced capacity, either offering fewer products/services, having fewer employees, or keeping reduced hours. On a more positive note, 58% of respondents (at the time reporting) said they are fully open for business – though many of these companies have staff working remotely, they still consider themselves fully open and available for customers/clients.

Operational Status of Manitoba Businesses During COVID-19 Pandemic 2021

Expectations of staffing levels

Manitoba businesses are still expecting to recover in the next 12 months, with 34% of respondents indicating they expect to have a larger workforce a year from now, while only 7% anticipate reducing staff. The outlook is about the same looking further down the road, with 41% of respondents anticipating they will be doing some or a lot of hiring in two years.

Expectations of Increasing Staffing 2021
24 Month Hiring Expectations 2021

Difficulty finding quality employees

The percentage of executives reporting difficulty finding qualified employees for their businesses has ebbed and flowed in the past fifteen years, often falling in line with the overall decline and growth of the economy. The results show that, so far in 2021, there has been a double-digit drop in the number of companies who report difficulty finding skilled workers (39% compared to 52% in both 2020 and 2019 and 55% in 2017).  

These findings match anecdotal feedback Pinnacle has received from clients as of late, possibly suggesting that there are more people actively looking for work. That said, the biggest issue for business owners right now may not lie in identifying qualified potential employees but in evaluating them. 

Difficulty Finding Employees 2021

Employers and back-to-work considerations 

Finally, the survey sought feedback on employers’ plans for returning to the workplace when health orders allow. Leaders in Manitoba are divided on how much work flexibility to give their employees coming out of pandemic restrictions. While 42% of respondents plan to give employees some flexibility or choice about returning to a physical office, an equal number (42%) plan to set firm policies on where people will be working. This number was even higher among larger companies (50 plus employees) and among companies outside of Winnipeg. Only 10% of survey respondents said they will give employees as much flexibility as possible. 

Employers and back-to-work considerations 2021

Probe Research conducted the survey of 201 business owners and managers located throughout Manitoba between March 24 and April 5, 2021. The survey sample was designed to ensure representation from small enterprises (1 to 9 employees), medium-sized companies (10 to 49 employees) and large businesses (50+ employees). Quotas were also set based on the regional location of respondents (Winnipeg vs. outside of Winnipeg) and by business sector (e.g. services, manufacturing, resources).  

According to Probe Research, “with a sample of 201 one can say with 95% certainty that the results are within +/- 6.9 percentage points of what they would have been if all private-sector business owners/managers in Manitoba had been interviewed”.  

These survey results are important as they put to fact anecdotal insights we have been hearing for months: many Manitoba businesses maintain a positive outlook on future growth and expansion. It is an important reminder that, while tempting to put on blinders and take the situation day-by-day, we cannot lose sight of future planning. 

If evaluating and hiring the best employees is a challenge for your business, consider a conversation with Pinnacle to find out how we may help.

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