As restrictions begin to ease travellers are starting to fly again, but the return of airport employees has been much slower.
Kelowna International Airport is one of the many Okanagan employers struggling to recruit and retain employees, which has impacted airport services.
“We lost 97 per cent of our business in three weeks so of course what followed after that was that we had a lot of layoffs, people left the airport and decided not to come back,” said Kelowna International Airport director Sam Samaddar.
“If you are used to coming through the airport and it has only taken you five minutes to get through screening, for example, well it will take you longer. And you’ll notice that our concession services aren’t open the full hours that we would like them to be open.”
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is discussing attracting and retaining workers in a hot labour market this week and Chamber officials admit it is a complex issue.
“It is important to know how we got here, and it is not unexpected that we face labour challenges because of the aging demographic that we’ve seen,” said Kelowna Chamber of Commerce executive director Dan Rogers.
“But the pandemic has changed everything because people have spent frankly two years reflecting on how much time that they spend at work and that work/life balance. Not everyone is approaching work the same way they did prior to the pandemic.”
Rogers added that the current hiring market is extremely competitive, and understanding is critical. The Chamber said many employers are now looking at new hiring strategies, specifically incentives.
“You need to be much more creative in looking for new employees and look in nontraditional areas, “ said Rogers.
“It’s a full menu, and you have to look at who you are trying to recruit and what will be motivating for them to come and work for you. It’s not just putting money on the table.”
Recently, Interior Health offered $10,000 signing bonuses to medical lab technologist to address the urgent need and Kelowna International Airport announced plans for daycare spaces for employees.