A Vernon business has been thinking outside its squash courts on how to recruit employees.
The labour shortage that took off during the pandemic is far from over, and The Roster Sports Club Bar and Grill is hoping offering affordable housing as part of its recruitment and retention strategy may be part of the solution.
“We know from past experience one of the biggest hurdles of recruiting and retaining employees is both the availability and the affordability of housing in Vernon,” says club owner Hussein Hollands.
“When we recruited our squash pro, Peter Trafford, from Calgary last year, he found it difficult to find affordable accommodations in the city. Fortunately, it worked out in the end but there is even less availability now than a year ago.”
To address the issue, the club recently purchased a home in Vernon with two separate, two-bedroom legal suites that can accommodate up to four employees. It is part of The Roster’s mission to offer an affordable accommodation option to potential hires.
Private apartment vacancy has been falling rapidly: data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) indicates the vacancy rate in Vernon dropped from 1.9 per cent in 2019 to 0.7 per cent last year, which has continued to push up rental prices.
“We are in a better position than many businesses because we have low turnover of staff and many of our staff have been with us for years, some more than 20 years,” Hollands says. “But since growing the restaurant and sports club, we’ve needed to recruit more employees.”
In addition to the sports club and pub, The Roster has added over the last few years a fully licensed lounge as well as new sporting activities such as a golf simulator, indoor spikeball, darts, and table tennis.
“Whether it’s a local person looking for new employment opportunities or someone wanting to relocate, we think offering the potential for housing security will go a long way in showing our commitment and hopefully help new employees avoid the stress of the rental crisis in Vernon,” says Holland.