When I became a parent, I remember being told that the days were long but the years were short. Post-pandemic it seems the days, months, and years are all getting shorter as we work together to move past the impacts of COVID-19.
If you have had the opportunity to review go2HR’s Employment Tracker, you’ve seen that we are tracking monthly employment data by industry sector, region and year. Employment in January 2023 is still below pre-COVID levels, with about 12,750 fewer jobs in January 2023 versus January 2019. This slow (and bumpy) recovery is to be expected; as the first and hardest hit by COVID-19, we are likely to be one of the last industries to fully recover.
When go2HR and our Industry Engagement Working Group created B.C.’s Tourism and Hospitality Labour Recovery Framework, a key pillar was to create the capacity for new tourism and hospitality business practices. The thinking was that as employers navigated business recovery – and served as a critical contributor to community recovery – they would have a local HR resource to help them navigate human resources challenges and help establish the progressive practices that would help recruit, retain, train, and grow their teams. We called this initiative Raise the HR Bar.
According to author Simon Sinek “the best ideas originate to help a few, but end up helping many.”
The model for regional resources was tried and tested by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), in partnership with go2HR. Five years ago, Ginger Brunner began working closely with employers, government agencies and stakeholders to assess and address HR challenges.
In fall 2021, Cindy Conti joined go2HR as Vancouver Coast and Mountains (VCM) Regional Human Resources Consultant, a resource identified in the VCM Tourism Labour Market Action Plan commissioned by Destination BC to address the immediate and short-term needs of tourism and hospitality employers.
In February 2022, funding support from the B.C. Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport allowed us to begin the implementation of Raise the HR Bar as envisioned in the labour recovery framework.
In twelve short months, we have made significant progress. We designed the regional HR consultant network program and hired and onboarded consultants to establish a dedicated resource in each of B.C.’s six tourism and hospitality economic regions. This small and mighty team has already reached more than 3,500 employers – first to introduce themselves and their services, and then to answer questions and offer advice on compensation, benefits, retention, training and development and mental health and wellness.
They have also worked closely with almost 500 regional and community destination management organizations, chambers, industry associations, and economic development groups. To date, that has resulted in more than 120 webinars, forums, career awareness events, conferences, roundtables and symposiums. This stakeholder engagement work has uncovered areas of needed support and resources including retention, career fair content, youth, student and refugee recruitment, support for workers with disabilities, and mental health and wellness.
The HR Consultants are also involved in the delivery of go2HR’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Initiative, which is designed to further round out go2HR’s existing offerings (Safer Spaces and the Mental Health Hub) aimed at creating respectful workplaces. The project scope includes raising awareness in the tourism and hospitality industry of the need to enhance workplaces to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive to better align with today’s societal and job seeker values; empowering BC tourism and hospitality employers to grow equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace cultures; and supporting EDI development in workplaces through increased education/training. A total of 52 employers attended go2HR’s “Reshaping the Workplace with an EDI Framework in November 2022 to learn what is generally meant by the terms equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), why it is so important from both a people and a business perspective, receive an introduction to go2HR’s EDI Framework and learn how the EDI Framework can be used. Watch for the launch of our online EDI resource hub later this spring.
How are employers feeling about these new services? Here is what they have told us:
- “I often reflect on how badly small businesses need HR support… we are in the process of formalizing our HR processes and I would love to have a consultation with you.”
- “You may be an HR team of one (like me), and if that’s the case, you know that there is very little that lifts the workday spirit than talking to others who can offer support, check your blind spots, [and] share resources.”
- “Having you devote the time and support through this process has been invaluable – you made it so much easier. I had no idea what I didn’t know about this process.”
As we look ahead to building on this success, your collaboration is critical – and cherished. We are grateful for your support and partnership as we enter year two of this two-year initiative.
We welcome your feedback on Raise the Bar and, importantly, your insight on opportunities to expand understanding and impact of the services offered by our regional HR consultant team. The greater the reach of our services, the better equipped we are to make the case that these services should remain in place.