Annual Hays Salary Guide reveals employer optimism and employee isolation

According to the 11th annual Hays Salary Guide, the majority of Canadian employers feel confident about the economy and have a positive employment outlook — but that perspective is not shared by their teams.

Reduced social interaction, increased workloads and a lack of well-being and mental health support are among concerns cited by Canadian employees. The Hays report also found that 49 per cent of employees are seriously considering leaving their current role, which represents a nine-point jump over last year.

Heading into the last quarter of 2020, an encouraging number of companies said they were back to business as usual (55 per cent) or in growth mode (19 per cent) after several months of coronavirus slowdown.

Hays’ data shows their staff have also been weathering the storm, but its effects are more deeply felt and their optimism is in short supply. Early in the year, 81 per cent of employees rated their well-being as “positive”. However, as the lockdown unfolded, that dropped almost 20 points to 64 per cent. Adding to the challenge are the 54 per cent of employers who admit to doing nothing in the way of employee wellness or mental health assistance. 

“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 Travis O’Rourke, President, Hays Canada. “COVID-19 has left everyone exhausted and while many businesses are improving, staff are waving a white flag. Employees expect a company to have their best interests at heart and we’re now seeing evidence that unsupported teams look for better opportunities. Once we turn a corner on the pandemic or see more signs of job market strength, those employees are gone.”

Completed in August against the backdrop of the pandemic, ,the Hays Salary Guide found that most employers are treading water, a state reflected in their hiring and salary plans for the foreseeable future. One-third of respondents said they cut staff and 71 per cent froze salaries in response to the pandemic.

Rather than growing their teams, they expect to recoup headcount lost over the past six months. As for raises, only 19 per cent plan to boost pay greater than an annual cost-of-living adjustment, and a further 29 per cent confirmed that no salary increases are planned for the next year.

 “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.”

 Working from home became the standard this past spring in job sectors where business can effectively be conducted outside a corporate office. Hays data confirms that employees adjusted to the new arrangement, and one-third believes their productivity increased as a result. Employers report that their trust in remote workers has shot up nearly 20 per cent in recent months, but they’re not seeing the productivity gains noted by staff. Hays experts believe this is the result of staff wanting to be as productive as possible; however, working conditions have actually slowed the process.

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