Eddie Lemoine, Cape Breton-based motivational speaker and author addressed Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce members on recharging their workforce post pandemic last week. Charlotte MacAulay photo

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The history of the workforce in Canada has changed significantly over the past several decades and while the pandemic has certainly added to that evolution, it is not the only reason the employer-employee relationship will never be what it once was.

The most engaged employees are the ones we need to hang onto, said Eddie Lemoine, who spoke to close to 50 small business people at Rural Recharge, a conference co-sponsored by the Eastern PEI and West Prince Chambers of Commerce.

“How do we find them? How do we keep them? How do we get more of them and how do we move current employees into that group?” the Cape Breton-based motivational speaker and author said.

The simple answer is managers have to “retool their thinking,” he said.

As baby boomers retire the workforce stepping in to replace them are fewer in numbers and their lifestyles have changed.

“This leads to a shift in power from managers having power to employees having the power,” Mr Lemoine added.

An employer-employee relationship is at its best when the employer gets maximum results and the employee gets maximum job satisfaction.

There are different ways to achieve that outcome, depending on the type of business you have, but communication is key.

Knowing your employees on a personal level helps create mutual respect.

“We have to encourage people to see human beings before human resources,” one participant said, adding to the conversation.

Mr Lemoine agreed, noting empathy is now the number-one trait in business leaders.

The reality of the declining workforce is also highlighted in the fact much of Canada’s population growth in the near future will come from immigration.

“We have to find a way to utilize the skills they bring with them,” Mr Lemoine said.

Building community is also important and he says there is an advantage to being in rural Atlantic Canada, especially post-pandemic. People are increasingly looking for that perfect rural environment to raise their family.

Rural Recharge was held on September 23 at Rodd Crowbush Resort in Morell.

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