Good morning and Happy New Year!
The page has turned on another calendar year, but that doesn’t mean everyone has suddenly abandoned the high expectations set in 2022 over what they want out of work. Bosses beware: your employees are thinking of quitting, and a recession isn’t going to stop them.
Fifty per cent of Canadian employees are planning to look for a new job in the first part of 2023, says a survey of workers from recruiter Robert Half Canada Inc. The intention is highest among people who’ve been with their organizations for two to four years, with 61 per cent planning to scour the want ads. But 57 per cent of tech workers also say they are itching for a change, as are 56 per cent of millennial and gen-Z workers. Parents are also prepared to start searching for new opportunities. So much for an end to the Great Resignation.
It won’t come as a surprise that what people are seeking most is a bigger paycheque. As wages struggle to keep up with the higher cost-of-living brought on by elevated inflation, a fatter salary is more attractive than ever. That’s likely to put many employers in a difficult position as they try to navigate inflation’s impact on their own balance sheets, while also eyeing a potential economic slowdown.
To be sure, workers aren’t only seeking higher pay. They’re also on the lookout for better benefits packages, more opportunities to climb the career ladder, and flexibility over when and where they work.
Such non-wage compensation is important because some staffers are growing disillusioned with their employers over a perception that their needs come second to those of customers, according to research from Argyle Communications Inc., a public relations company. While 81 per cent say their company treats clients with care, only 71 per cent think workers are shown similar consideration. As a result, they think customers have more pull over company decisions and direction — a dangerous notion that could leave employees feeling powerless and disengaged.
Unions, too, are gearing up for a fight this year. Mark Hancock, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says 2023 will be marked by “difficult bargaining” for both the private and public sector as workers try to secure wage increases. Lana Payne, president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, also says she expects contract negotiations to be turbulent.
“Workers have high expectations right now. And they feel a sense of power, which is good and important,” Payne says in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press. “It’s a long time coming, don’t you think?”
Combined, it could mean more bad news for employers who may have hoped this year would be less fraught when it comes to retaining and hiring talent. It could also mean we are in for more quiet quitting as employees disconnect, taking productivity down with them. Some managers are already paying attention. “Wise employers are investing more time in employee engagement, showing more concern for workers’ well-being, and giving employees more influence over their decisions,” Daniel Tisch, Argyle chief executive, says in a news release.
Employees have held the upper hand in the labour market this past year, and they are in no hurry to give it up. But their luck might be running out. There is evidence the market has started to shift back in favour of employers. Job vacancies in Canada are beginning to come down after peaking at over one million in June, and some businesses are planning to scale back on hiring — and even downsize — in the short-term.
Still, many workers are continuing to operate on the belief that the war for talent will keep raging in 2023. And with skills shortages continuing to bite, they might have a point.
“Many Canadian workers continue to have confidence in the job market despite news of layoffs and a slowdown in hiring,” David King, senior managing director for Canada and South America at Robert Half, says in a release. “Professionals with in-demand skills know they have leverage given the talent shortage.”
All together, 2023 might still be a year where the four-day workweek gains ground and remote and hybrid work remain a must-have in contract negotiations. But workers who have resolved to find a new job should also keep in mind the changing economic landscape. Plus, it might be a little more tricky to snag a plum new position with so many others also on the hunt.
— Victoria Wells, senior editor, Financial Post, and FP Work editor
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