Workplace Matters Panel Continues to Inform CTHRC Research Activities

Tourism businesses are encouraged to participate in this important online forum

In 2008, as part of its ongoing efforts to improve the quality of the Canadian tourism labour force, the CTHRC developed an online forum to gather and share information related to human resource practices in the tourism sector in Canada. Since then, the Workplace Matters panel has grown to include over 600 tourism business owners and human resource personnel. Panel members respond to short monthly surveys allowing the CTHRC and its provincial partners to receive timely feedback from tourism businesses and industry HR representatives. The opinions and expertise provided by the panel members help the CTHRC identify and respond to the operational and occupational issues that are currently impacting the workforce, or will affect human resources in the tourism sector in the future.

Input from the Workplace Matters panel has been instrumental in several research projects conducted by the Council. In 2008, the Alliance of Sector Councils (TASC) initiated a trends analysis project. Sixteen sector councils – including the CTHRC – have participated in this project which collects current intelligence on human resource trends in the Canadian economy. This collected intelligence is reported to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. As of summer 2011, Workplace Matters panellists have contributed to this project five times, allowing TASC to monitor HR trends in the tourism sector and analyze how those trends compare to other sectors of the Canadian economy.

The Workplace Matters panel has also contributed to two of the CTHRC’s largest research projects. In November of 2009, panellists completed a labour issues and business conditions survey, which was part of the CTHRC’s ongoing Tourism Labour Supply and Demand Study. This study, which evaluates the demand for tourism goods and services and the ability of the Canadian labour force to provide the workers needed to meet that demand, found that almost 219,000 full-year tourism jobs could go unfilled by 2025 if the tourism sector is unable to improve its ability to recruit and retain workers. As part of this study, panel members told us that labour issues eased significantly with the onset of the economic recession but remained a challenge for 44% of tourism sector businesses. For those businesses, the most significant labour issues included finding qualified, reliable staff and the shortage of skilled labour in their region.

In the spring of 2010, the CTHRC was preparing to launch the 2010 Tourism Sector Compensation Survey and was considering changes to the questions asked regarding employee turnover at tourism businesses. A Workplace Matters survey was used to evaluate the ability of tourism business owners to accurately identify turnover rates and the reasons for that turnover at their business. Based on feedback from the panellists, Compensation Survey questions related to turnover were adjusted to ensure that the data collected for the 2010 Tourism Sector Compensation Study was as valid as possible.

Skills training, upgrading and certification are core components of the Council’s mission that are addressed through the emerit tourism training brand. In late 2010, the Council initiated an extensive industry consultation process to evaluate the effectiveness of emerit resources. The first step in this process was to ask panel members if they used emerit, what training products they used and what products they were most likely to use in the future.  The data collected from this survey was used to inform nine focus groups, held across Canada, with emerit users and non-users. The results of the focus groups were presented to the CTHRC Board of Directors in the spring of 2011. Stemming from the focus group results, potential changes to the emerit pricing and distribution system are being examined to find more effective means of delivering emerit resources to the customer. This research will be conducted this summer and fall using input from the Workplace Matters panel.

Panel members have also completed surveys on the human resource tools most needed by tourism businesses, the usefulness of high school work placement programs and the ability of tourism businesses to find seasonal staff. The results of these surveys are available as a series of Workplace Matters Panel Reports, which can be downloaded from the CTHRC website.

Eventually, Workplace Matters will grow to include 2,000 representatives of Canada’s tourism sector. We invite you to be one of those representatives. To become a member of this elite group, please visit http://www.join.workplacematterspanel.ca and complete the short profile survey. After joining the panel, you will be emailed brief surveys on various business practices and human resource issues every couple of months.  We know your time is valuable and you may respond to as many or as few surveys as you wish.  In appreciation for your time, for each survey you complete your name will be entered into a draw to win $250. Participation is completely voluntary.

The Workplace Matters Panel is managed by Ipsos, one of North America’s leading market research companies. All information provided by panel members will be kept strictly confidential and used only for legitimate research purposes.