Market Insider By Peter Tremblay 28272 Views

What Canadian Workers Want From Their Employers

As Canadian business leaders continue to feel their way through the seemingly endless fits and starts on the “return to normal” it’s clear that there is no return to normal. According to a national survey by QuestionPro of more than 1,520 Canadians from every province and territory (except Nunavut), there’s a new, new normal, and two things are suddenly very clear.* Covid-19 led to significant self-reflection about careers and led many to the conclusion that there are more important things and potentially better opportunities.

This could explain why today, employers are locked in a battle for talent in a tight market amidst shifting health regulations and consumer priorities. According to according to a new survey by The Harris Poll, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals, “more than 4 in 5 (84%) of companies expect to face hiring challenges over the next year.”

But it’s not just a tight labour market that’s a challenge; it’s that the Covid-19 experience has changed some of the underlying dynamics. In fact, according to Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, “It is clear that the pandemic has had a profound effect on the labour market.”

As employers navigate the dual challenges of rebounding from the pandemic and now the tight labour market, the survey data provides insights and a way forward.

Employers by and large did right by their employees

Respondents gave generally high marks to how their employer managed through the crisis, with 51 percent stating their employer “Really supported employees and tried to understand and address the challenges of Covid” and nearly 15 percent saying their employer Created new and dynamic processes, products or other innovations to help employees do their best work and deliver for customers. Only 7 percent agreed that their employer “utterly failed at managing through the crisis.”

Covid led to introspection & openness for change

More that 60 percent said that Covid-19 caused them to self-reflect on their career. Despite the current reports calling this era the “take this job and shove it economy”, the survey found that only 5 percent of people believe they are in a dead-end job. While 25 percent said they are “lucky to have a job” nearly 40 percent said they realized there are more important things than their job. Still, just under 20 percent say they realized there are better opportunities and are ready to seize (or already have seized) them. About 15 percent say they realize they missed their teammates.

What they enjoyed about working from home

While much has been written about worker productivity during Covid, the survey found many participated in activities that employers had worried about, or had previously used as reasons not to allow working from home, including:

  • 19% consuming alcohol or cannabis during the workday
  • 15% watching TV or YouTube during meetings
  • 15% doing errands while in a meeting
  • 13% doing a meeting from bed
  • 9% working someplace other than home without informing managers

Good news for employers? More than 25 percent of respondents said they did none of the above.

What employees value/want from their employer

While Covid-19 changed much about the workplace and employee expectations, it did not change what they value most going forward. The top two attributes respondents want in their job is “pay that is above the average for my job” as well as generous vacation time (defined as 3 weeks or more per year). So, pretty much what has always driven satisfaction.

That said, a close third preference was “remote work/hybrid work environment” – a clear reflection of the positive experience of working from home.

What don’t employers need to focus on? “Cool/casual office design and amenities” or giving everyone a private office (lack of “cube farms”).

“It’s remarkable that productivity levels were as high as they were with the high percentage of non-work-related activities taking place,” said Dan Jackson, Managing Director of QuestionPro Canada. “While it would be easy for employers to use this to justify ending work from home, our survey showed employees highly value the ability to blend their work and personal life.”

Indeed. When it comes to what workers will miss most, it’s the little things, including: Running Errands (24%); Taking a Nap (20%), Watching TV and Walking the Dog (14%); and Doing Meetings from Bed (10%). A little more than 16 percent of respondents said they won’t miss being at home.

The data show that employees have come to value some of the freedoms of working outside the office. Employers would do well to continue to find ways to enable hybrid work environments, and if there are savings from doing so, repurpose them into salaries.

*The survey of Canadian consumers was fielded August 23, 2021 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. The survey was conducted using technology and multi-method behavioural fraud detection to verify respondents, including 80+ different security variables which accomplish the following: detection and rejection of suspicious IP addresses; digital fingerprinting; Captcha bot detection; event streaming and analysis, copy paste detection and translation of text detection. Mouse movements on desktops were also tracked.

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