Lack of housing a contributing factor to employee recruitment and retention

Chemistry Consulting Group completed a survey of business operators aimed at better understanding the extent of the impact of housing, childcare, and low unemployment issues on employee recruitment and retention. The survey was conducted from mid-July to mid-August 2017 with the support of a number of local business organizations (i.e., VIATEC, Tourism Victoria, Downtown Victoria Business Association, Vancouver Island Construction Association, WestShore Chamber of Commerce, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.) A total of 250 businesses responded to the survey. These businesses represent 10 different industry sectors, are located throughout the Greater Victoria area, and range from small to large in size based on the number of employees. 

The survey confirms that the lack and cost of housing in Greater Victoria is making it difficult for many employers to attract and retain workers. 

Key findings of the survey include: 

  • The great majority of respondents (87.5%) have been trying to recruit employees in the last six months.
  • Well over half (57.2%) of respondents believe the current shortage of housing is making it difficult for them to attract employees from outside of Victoria
  • The housing shortage is making it difficult for businesses to attract employees from outside Victoria at all position levels -- from entry-level positions (78.1%), to middle management (41.8%) and senior management positions (24.0%))
  • 26% of respondents indicate that the shortage of housing is having a serious or significant impact on their ability to attract and retain workers
  • Almost half of respondents (46.6%) believe the increase in the number of properties being used for short-term rentals (STRs) is negatively affecting the availability of housing for their staff.
  • Just over one-fifth of respondents indicated that they believe that the lack of child care is having an impact on their ability to recruit employees.
  • Just over two-thirds of respondents indicated that they have had to raise salaries in order to attract staff and management due to the region’s low unemployment rate and the higher cost of housing.  One respondent noted “[I raised salaries] 35% and offer exceptional tip pool options, and I still cannot find and retain staff."
Respondents identified a range of factors affecting the availability of housing in Greater Victoria including:
  • High housing costs – including unfordable rent or mortgage rates related to salaries (e.g., under $1,200/month)
  • Lack of housing supply (rental or purchase)
  • Limited affordable housing (including in proximity to place of employment)
  • Condos bought as secondary homes or by foreign investors and left empty most of the time
  • Conversion of rental units to condos for purchase
  • Use of housing for short-term vacation rentals makes it unavailable for longer term rental
  • Speculative home buyers
  • Lack of pet-friendly rentals
  • Disproportionate amount of age-restricted dwellings
  • Affordable suites tend to be illegal or rundown and not suitable for working professionals
  • Lack of transit service and traffic congestion to outlying areas (where housing may be more affordable/available)
  • High cost to build new housing and lack of construction workers
  • Bylaws limiting secondary suites
  • Longer term leases being changed to month-to-month rentals
  • Landlords taking advantage of tight market to increase rents
  • Growing numbers of ‘renovictions’(leading to significant jumps in rental rates)
  • Not enough three-bedroom rentals
  • People from Vancouver are selling their homes and moving to Greater Victoria
While there are many factors that influence the ability of businesses and organizations to recruit employees, one of which is the low unemployment rate, the findings of this survey clearly indicate that the lack of affordable housing and/or the lack of housing inventory, are currently having a negative impact on the business community and, if these factors are not addressed, these impacts could worsen in the future and have a restraining impact on the overall economic growth potential of the region.  
To view the survey results click here.

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