A study by recruitment firm Hays Canada, which looks at the sentiments of business and the labour force, has found a “significant disconnect between Canadian employers and employees.” In fact, some of the findings were so worrying that it released the 2021 Hays Salary Guide two months early.

On the one hand most employers said they were confident about the economy and employment outlook heading into the last quarter of 2020. 55% of companies said they were back to business as usual and 19% saw themselves as growing after the worst of the pandemic slowdown.

The past six months, however, have taken a harsher toll on employees. The lack of social interaction from remote working, increased workloads and a lack of support from their bosses have all weighed on workers.

The survey found that 49% of employees were seriously considering leaving their current role, a nine percentage point jump from last year. In some provinces it is even worse. Hays said it released its report two months early to draw attention to the fact that 52% of Ontario employees say they are ready to leave their jobs. In Quebec, it’s 54%.

The sinking spirits of employees are evident. Early in the year 81% of employees were positive about their well-being. That fell to 64% in the latest survey. Nor do they appear to be getting much help, with 54% of employers admitting they were doing nothing to assist employees with their wellness or mental health.

“Canadian employers are navigating difficult headwinds but the growing number of employees who want to leave their role, even in the face of a tentative job market, is a big problem,” said Hays Canada president Travis O’Rourke. “COVID-19 has left everyone exhausted and while many businesses are improving, staff are waving a white flag.”

The short-term outlook isn’t much better. Hays found that employers were “treading water.” A third of those surveyed cut staff because of the pandemic and 71% froze salaries. In the future, they expect to just recoup the headcount rather than increase their workforces. Only 19% plan to boost pay by more than cost of living increase and 29% plan no raises at all for the next year. In Alberta, 46% of employers plan no salary increases.

“Employers have been battling through the greatest global downturn since the Great Depression and as we’ve seen from the country’s jobs numbers, they’re primarily focused on rehiring and regaining lost ground,” said O’Rourke. “It’s good to see that we’re on the right path but it’s clear that things like raises, employee training and wellness spending could be on the back burner for some time.”

Hays is seeing evidence that unsupported employees are looking for other opportunities, he said. “Once we turn a corner on the pandemic or see more signs of job market strength, those employees are gone.” And as the second COVID wave sweeps through and winter descends, it’s likely that this discontent will only get worse.

Source: Financial Post