It’s always been a challenge to hire good talent. The past three years have amplified this challenge with the pandemic leading to massive workforce disruptions and phenomena such as “the Great Resignation” and “quiet quitting.”
But with inflation putting more pressure onto consumer’s finances, we know we weren’t the only ones to wonder, “What does this mean for the Great Resignation and quiet quitting?” Are workers now starting to go back to work, maybe somewhat against their will? Does this change what we need to offer to keep employees challenged and happy to stay?
As we move past the first quarter of 2023, we thought it was worth taking a pulse on the Canadian population to understand the current state of the workforce and what it means for businesses.
A Tale of Three Workers
From our February 2023 survey of n=1621 nationally representative adult Canadians, with data collected in collaboration with Sago, we identified three worker types with three different underlying mindsets.
“Show Me the Money”: In this group, 20% of workers have begun looking for a better paying job and most (61%) have done so within the past year. Some have also taken alternate approaches to increasing their income by working more hours to make up for higher costs (13%), taking a second job (8%), or asking their current work for more money (8%). Though the rate of inflation is finally declining, this suggests that workers are still feeling financially insecure and may be looking for opportunities to improve their situation.
“Ready and Willing”: 14% of workers in this segment went back to work after not working for a while. The timeframe of this re-entry into the workforce is more evenly spread over the last 3 years compared to those seeking higher incomes. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including job loss during the pandemic or a decision to take time off for personal reasons and is thus not necessarily linked to the need to return for financial reasons.
“Career Butterflies”: And in this group, 15% changed careers (with 42% of them doing so within the last year), 11% quit their job without going to another one, and 11% started their own business. Another 7% of Canadians chose to enroll in an academic degree or certificate program, with half (51%) doing so within the last year. This suggests that some workers are feeling unfulfilled with their current work situation and are looking for opportunities to pursue their passions or to upskill or reskill. This trend is likely to continue as more people prioritize their mental and emotional well-being and seek out work that better aligns with their values and interests.
Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Talent by Worker Type
The “Show Me the Money” Segment: Offering competitive salaries is an obvious strategy for this group but not always possible. Here are some ways to increase the total value of compensation to help offset the cost-of-living increases:
- Offer flexible work arrangements: This could include remote work, flexible hours, or compressed work weeks. Besides the benefit of greater control, this may also provide financial benefits for employees who need to juggle more than one job, those who’d like to cut back on childcare arrangements to save money, or those who want to carpool to reduce commuting costs.
- Provide opportunities for career development: This could include job training, cross-functional training, or mentoring programs. Businesses can help prepare employees for a higher-paying position while keeping them engaged in the short-term.
- Offer non-financial benefits: This could include perks such as free gym memberships, on-site childcare, or employee discounts. Though some may scoff at the tactic of “free lunches at the office,” for this worker segment, every dollar saved can make a difference.
- Provide additional time off: Offer extra vacation days or paid time off to employees, which equates to a higher salary.
The “Ready and Willing” Segment: This segment may not be as demanding in compensation but we still want to keep them satisfied and fulfilled.
- Create a supportive workplace culture: Ensure that their return to the workforce is welcoming. This could include promoting teamwork, recognition, rewards programs, and creating a safe and inclusive work environment.
- Help them reconnect with other employees: This could include team-building activities or social events that help build relationships and ease the transition back to the workplace.
- Provide training and development: Help employees refresh their skills and knowledge, particularly if they have been out of the workforce for a while.
- Flexible work arrangements: The same flexibility discussed for the “Show Me the Money” segment applies to this group too.
The “Career Butterflies” Segment: You may have some top talent in this segment. Those who are ready to quit without another job or are looking to change careers are either burnt out from their existing situation or confident enough to take a leap of faith, perhaps even without a safety net. Or if they are looking to start their own business, there may be little you can do to keep them. But depending on the line of work they’re looking to pursue; you may be able to continue working with them in a different capacity. You could be on the receiving end of a “Career Butterfly” switching into your company or possibly be on the “at-risk” side of losing an employee to a change.
- Provide a clear path for career advancement, with opportunities for upskilling, reskilling, transitions into new roles, and promotions. This can help attract candidates who are seeking a new career path and retain employees by offering a sense of purpose and growth.
- Foster a culture of learning and mentorship: Provide learning and development opportunities, such as training programs, mentoring, and access to conferences and events. This can help employees develop new skills and knowledge to help them transition to a new career.
- Flexible work arrangements: Flexibility matters a lot to this segment too as they may be going back to school or pursuing a certificate while working nearly full-time.
While each individual case is unique, offering flexibility, increasing the total value of compensation, and providing clear paths for career advancement, will help increase your chances of success of building and keeping a strong team.
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