If COVID-19 has taught the world anything, it’s the importance of being prepared. Both employers and employees were forced to adjust to new working conditions practically overnight. Remote work, virtual meetings and online group collaborations quickly became the norm. Some employees were furloughed or saw reduced hours, while others continued working the same hours with increasing demands of family responsibilities.

Through it all, the majority of Canadian workers proved to be resilient in the midst of the pandemic and found ways to adjust to these new working conditions. However, these added stressors have taken their toll, and the needs of employees across markets have changed. While competitive salaries and benefits remain important, today’s employees want more.

To help employers prepare for this shift and improve hiring outcomes, we conducted a comprehensive study to find out what employees are looking for in their post-pandemic workplace environment. Here’s a closer look at the results.

what canadians are looking for in their workplace right now english

work-life balance

It should come as no surprise that today’s workers are prioritizing a healthy work-life balance. For over a year now, workers around the globe have had to deal with added pressures both at work and at home. According to our study, 55% of the workforce had to transition to remote work on at least a part-time basis. In many cases, these employees had to set up a home office with little to no notice. To make matters worse, some employees also had to deal with increased home responsibilities, such as helping their children with virtual learning.

While the majority of workers successfully navigated these changes, the pandemic still left these employees with a better understanding of what a healthy work-life balance is and why it’s so important. In fact, 44% of the respondents to our survey believe that employers should make remote work opportunities available even after the pandemic.

The good news is that employees connect remote work with company loyalty. According to our survey, 65% of full-time remote workers and 61% of part-time remote workers felt more loyal to their employers. Loyalty rates fared better with employees who chose to work at home (63%) versus those who were forced to work from home (60%).

attractive salaries and benefits

Despite the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, Canadians still rank competitive salaries and benefits as their number one driver. This number one ranking remained the same from our previous survey, where salaries and benefits were also the most important factor when comparing career options.

Both men (65%) and women (73%) found attractive salaries and benefits to be the most important driver. However, those with lower education levels tended to prioritize work-life balance (46%) and job security (46%) above salaries and benefits (44%). Age also seemed to be a factor, with workers 55 to 64 years old (77%) prioritizing employee compensation more than their younger counterparts — 35 to 65 years old (72%) and 18 to 24 years old (61%).

pleasant work environment

Canadian employees, as with workers around the world, ranked a pleasant work environment as the fourth most important thing to look for when choosing an employer. This statistic makes sense since full-time employees spend a third of their workweek at work. While this fourth-placed ranking remained consistent from last year, the idea of what a pleasant work environment looks like has undoubtedly changed.

The global pandemic brought with it many safety and health concerns. Employers would be amiss to overlook these factors. With the effects of the pandemic slowly diminishing, it could be easy to let some safety measures, such as social distancing and sterilizing common areas, slide. However, with COVID-19 outbreaks currently occurring in regions throughout Canada, many employees are still on edge. It’s, therefore, important to keep COVID-19 safety measures in place.

Employees don’t just want a safe place to work; they also want a pleasant work environment. Having a positive work culture that focuses on improving workplace morale and employee engagement can help to boost job satisfaction rates across the board, which, in turn, can increase retention rates and improve talent acquisition outcomes.

job security

It’s only natural that today’s employees are concerned about job security. According to our research, less than half of the workforce (45%) maintained the same work hours throughout the pandemic. In fact, 17% saw a reduction in hours, 3% were furloughed, and 11% lost their jobs. On the other hand, 9% had to work more hours. These dramatic changes, some of which took place during the first few weeks of the pandemic, have left many employees worried about keeping their jobs.

While our survey revealed that 50% of Canadians feel that their jobs are secure in 2021, 1 in 4 employees don’t. These concerns are likely a prime contributor to the fact that 22% of the workforce is considering leaving their current job in 2021. In fact, of those intending to find another job, 44% are concerned about their current job security.

The reality is that workers had job security concerns even before the pandemic. It’s vital for employers to maintain an open line of communication with their employees and to offer a higher level of transparency so employees can accurately assess the security of their jobs.

career progression

According to our brand research, 1-in-2 employees consider career progression to be an important benefit offered by employers. When looking specifically at Canadian workers, more women (55%) rank career development as an important driver than their male counterparts (49%). On the other hand, older workers aged 55 to 64 (46%) and younger employees aged 18 to 24 (40%) consider career growth to be less important than workers aged 25 to 34 (52%) and 35 to 54 (54%).

Offering multiple opportunities for career growth within the company, such as mentorships, training programs and advancement pathways, gives employees the chance to enhance their career within the company.

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Learn more about how to prepare for a post-pandemic job market and how to create an employee attraction strategy that drives results. Download skills of the future guide today.

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