Recovery: it’s OK to say the word

The general feeling in the financial world is that we are not being too optimistic when we say recovery

When you hear people discussing recession recovery, it appears everyone is looking for any sign to help build confidence that it is for real. So when I saw an article entitled Looming Labour Shortage in the publication West Mandate published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), I thought, “Now that’s a sign things are looking pretty good.”

Valuing people

The article included survey results from small business members of CFIB showing that 40 per cent of businesses struggle to find qualified staff. Just before the recession, the number from a similar survey was 60 per cent, but I saw no mention of that concern over the last couple of years.

I checked back and similar survey results in 2004 and 2005 had respectively 23 per cent and 27 per cent of small businesses concerned about the labour shortage at that time, so 40 per cent now is a pretty high number. The advice for small businesses mentioned in the recent article I have been quoting is the same as it was in those prior years.

Actions for businesses

  1. Make use of new technologies to improve productivity
  2. Tap into underrepresented workers such as seniors, aboriginals and people with disabilities
  3. Implement innovative retention strategies
  4. Recognize and respond to the new demands of the next generation of employees.

At Koocanusa Publications, we are happy to have followed similar action advice. For example, during the deepest part of the recession, we tried to find ways to keep staff and not let them be part of any cutbacks. We implemented programs to train staff the last couple of years so they will be even more qualified as we dig out of the recession; hopefully many of our readers were able to do the same.

Cautiously optimistic

The September 2010 CICA/RBC Business Monitor backs up the impression that recovery may be an OK word to use by describing a cautious but positive attitude among business owners. The piece says: “Optimism levels are well above where they were a year ago (28 per cent above) and considerably higher than the two per cent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2008. In fact, optimism remains close to the peak reached in the second quarter of 2007 (67 per cent).” Shauneen Bruder, executive vice-president, business and commercial banking, RBC Royal Bank, is quoted: “The respondents’ cautiously optimistic view of the economic future of Canada and their own organizations indicates a positive but pragmatic outlook for future growth.” She adds, “Interestingly, regardless of the perceived state of the economy, for three years now respondents have indicated their top challenges are competition (68 per cent) and customer demand (50 per cent).”

Western province respondents took the lead in optimism about the economy in general with 59 per cent in Alberta and 53 per cent in British Columbia; Ontario showed only 29 per cent. Respondents were generally more optimistic about their own businesses, with business optimism showing at 72 per cent in Alberta, 53 per cent in British Columbia and 49 per cent in Ontario.

So having the challenge of finding good, qualified staff is a much more positive challenge than being bogged down in a worldwide recession. We hope the word recovery is not too optimistic and quite real for our economic climate right now.

Pride and appreciation

We are proud to have published Kootenay Business magazine for 25 years and would like to express our appreciation for the support of all our readers—because without you and your input into some of our content, we would lose our local flavour for the business environment in the Kootenay/Boundary region. It certainly is a vehicle through which you can learn so much about what is happening and how it is affecting people in our region. I want to take this opportunity to thank our advertisers as well, because without them we would not be here. A big thank you to our staff; it is the teamwork between sales reps, production and editorial people that continues to make this magazine a success. A special thanks to our publisher, Keith Powell, who keeps his thumb on the pulse of business activity in our corner of the province.

Lou Rogers

Lou Rogers is a chartered accountant and chair of Koocanusa Publications Inc. He obtained his degree as a CA in 1965 and spent the next 25 years in public practice in Cranbrook, B.C., retiring in 1990. View all of Lou Rogers’ articles

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