Every tourist operation is different and need for numbers and types of employees will vary on the size and type of operation. The quality of your employees can make or break your business. In many cases, the degree of success of a business relates to the attitude of the employees toward the operation. It is essential that the tourist operator creates an atmosphere of respect and understanding which provides a good place for employees to work and allows them to be proud of their association with your operation.

So where does the tourist operator find, recruit, train and retain these quality employees that will enhance their business? Many operators are isolated and can not access a competent labour pool. The abundance of good paying jobs in other Canadian sectors makes working long hours in a low-paying, seasonal industry, not very attractive to many potential employees. However, there are many people, both local and from “away”, that are very interested in the life style of the great outdoors in your area and the tourism sector in general.

This section of the manual will address the many areas of employment that will affect a tourist operator. For quick reference this section will be organized as follows:


The first thing that an operator must do is identify the kind of work that needs to be done and build a job description outlining all of the particular duties. The job description should describe the job not the person. Job descriptions can be very specific, as for a cook or chef, or job descriptions can be very broad in nature of duties, as for a maintenance worker. A job description should describe all tasks that are considered part of the job.

Building a Job Description

A job description should include:

Job descriptions should be written prior to hiring and reviewed and updated on a yearly basis.


So, now you have a couple of job positions to fill at your operation. Get the word out!!!

There are a few ways to recruit potential employees:

Now you have a list of applicants in front of you. Which person will be the best fit for your business and your style of management? In any business, communication is the key to success. You must hire team members that can pull together, share ideas and responsibilities, and create a pleasant working atmosphere. The best piece of advice in recruitment is:

“hire for attitude, train for the job”

Attributes of a great tourism employee are a good work ethic, a cheery disposition, punctuality and a commitment to service.

The Interview

Once you have reviewed the job applicants it is time to prepare for the interview. You should put together a list of questions that you will ask each person interviewed. Types of interview questions should include:

Once you have outlined your questions you can schedule the interviews. Provide a private place for the interviews and don’t forget to take notes during the interview.

For some generic example interview questions, visit

For an employer interview cheat sheet to help with preparation, visit

Each person interviewed can be rated according to how they answered each of your questions and how they presented themselves in the interview. Go over their resumes once more and narrow down your candidates. At this point check their references. If possible, talk to someone that has been their previous supervisor. It is just plain bad management NOT to check their references. Remember, your employees can make or break your business!

Once you have chosen your employee and made the offer of employment, you will need to describe the terms of employment. This is best done with a contract or employment agreement.

The Employment Agreement

The employment agreement should reflect the job description in terms of duties and responsibilities. Other types of specific information should include:


Training employees is essential for all successful tourist operations, no matter what the size. Employees need to perform their tasks competently and in a pleasant, efficient way because what they do and how they do it, ultimately reflects on your business. Trained employees will make fewer mistakes, have fewer accidents and will take pride in their work.

The amount of training depends on the tasks to be performed by the employee at your operation. It is best to assume, when training a new employee, that they know nothing. It is also important to remember that common sense is not common!

The Training Program

Training the new employee starts with:

An orientation to the operation will give the new employee a background on the history of the operation and how the operation is laid out and managed. The new employee will meet other employees in the workplace setting and observe your management style in action. Let the employee see exactly what is expected of them and they will feel more comfortable fitting in to your operation.

Proper training begins and ends with you, the operator. If you want a job to be done properly, in a particular fashion, then YOU must do the training. There are three steps to proper training:

Remember that your new employee can only master so many tasks and take in so much information in a day. Plan your training sessions as efficiently as possible until all tasks are covered.

Also remember that employee training is not “free”. Under the Employment Act you must pay your employees for their time during training.

Your employee is a reflection of your business in your customers’ eyes. In the case of employee injury, the lack of proper training may be detrimental to both you and your business. Employee training should be taken very seriously.


There are specific employment standards that you, as an employer must be familiar with and comply with. Your employee should also be aware of these standards and many of them should be addressed in his/her employment agreement. Most of these standards are the law and are enforced by the Ministry of Labour.

The following references and web sites will provided you with more specific information:

The Employment Standards Act (general information)

Minimum Wage (note the rates differ for hunting and fishing guides)

Vacation Pay (yes you have to pay!)

Public Holidays

Health and Safety. A Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 88 pages.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (Workers Compensation). Employers Section.

Employers duties in terms of Prevention.

First Aid Program Site. For everything you need to know about your first aid requirements.

First Aid Regulation 1101. First Aid requirements of the legal kind. 22 pages.$File/FAEng.pdf

Sexual (or other ??) Harassment DOES happen in the workplace although many people may not be aware of it. Sexual harassment doesn’t just involve the sexual act, it can be found in many forms including:

It is up to you as an employer to provide a safe, professional, working environment. Employees are protected from sexual harassment by the Human Rights Act. Legally you, as a person in authority, can be held responsible if something did happen between your employees.

In-house Rules

In-house rules need to be compiled, written out and explained to the employee. A policy handbook or a guideline sheet should be given to or be available to the employee for review. Your policies and rules will reflect your type of operation and management style. Policies that you can address may include:

Your rules and policies set the tone for your operation’s day to day activities. By having written rules and policies you can deal with most situations in a fair, obvious manner.


The best advice for hiring and retaining an excellent employee is: make your operation a nice place to work. Recognize your employee and the work that they do. An operator must be aware of the qualities of each employee to put them in the right position and make them feel like an essential part of the business.

There are many ways to get your employee actively involved in your business:

There is bound to be stress in any organization, no matter how big or small. By keeping a line of communication open with your employee you can solve most problems before they become a crisis.


 Related Content

Top 10 Hiring Oversights, from The Outfitter, by Laurie Marcil, Spring 2005

Uncertain Economic Times: Can You Afford to Invest in Health and Safety?, from The Outfitter, Sept/Oct 2003

New Employment Standards Act & Regulations, from The Outfitter, by Jim Antler, Fall 2001

Does your business require a JHSC?, from The Outfitter, by Jim Antler, July/Aug 2000

For You and Your Staff, from The Outfitter, Nov 1992

Getting Through the Staffing Season, Sandy Delton, from The Outfitter, June 1992

Hospitality Plus Means Skill Training, from The Outfitter, April 1992




The Outfitters’ Manual. NOTO. Circa 1985.

OTEC. Outdoor Guide Training Manual: Franklin Field Services. 2000.

Lodging Operator’s Manual. BC Motels Campgrounds Resort Association. 1997.


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