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Recession, what recession?

Despite risks of a major economic slowdown, the Canadian job market stays red hot

CENTRAL BANKERS AND the finance industry have made no secret of their desire to cool the tight labour market in response to inflation, but new survey results suggest that business owners aren’t planning on trimming staff any time soon.


A 51 per cent majority of businesses polled in the latest State of Canadian Hiring report, produced by consulting firm Robert Half, say they are planning on adding new permanent positions in the next five months — up from 40 per cent six months ago. It’s not the only study that suggests this, either: in January, a report from ManpowerGroup also suggested that hiring will remain strong this year.


“Employers across Canada will continue to search for skilled workers in the first quarter of 2023,” Darlene Minatel, country manager of ManpowerGroup Canada, said in the release. “A tight labour market is to be expected during times of high inflation, as companies try to meet demand.”


Robert Half’s study also forecast particularly strong growth in the contract market, with 65 per cent of companies stating that they plan on leveraging more contract professionals this year. The contracts market has been strong throughout the pandemic, as more people opt to create diversified income streams.


It might be overambitious to predict what this will mean for inflation, but it does seem to give a bit of credence to the “soft landing” approach preferred by the Bank of Canada, which is counting on robust hiring and job availability to soften the felt effects of interest rate hikes. (Strong jobs numbers in the U.S. last week also seem to back up the soft landing target.)


"The start of the new year is an especially robust time for hiring, as new projects begin and headcount budgets are confirmed to support fresh business goals", said David King, senior managing director, Robert Half, Canada and South America. "Employers should be prepared to offer competitive salaries, perks and benefits to attract and retain top talent in this continuing tight labour market.” Kieran Delamont


A rose by any other name

The big debate over hybrid work is pretty much settled. But how to brand the policy is a whole other matter

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HYBRID WORK IS all but guaranteed to remain a key feature of work culture for the foreseeable future. Return-to-office plans are stopping far short of a full return and the fears of productivity loss from remote employees haven’t borne out.


So, and perhaps not surprisingly, now that we’ve settled into a place where hybrid work is generally accepted, employers are putting their marketing departments on the case, branding and promoting their flex-work arrangements with catchphrases and corporate jargon.


At KPMG, it’s called “Flex with Purpose.” A couple years ago, 3M branded its hybrid structure as “Work Your Way.” American Express (the best in this writer’s opinion) went with “Amex Flex.” (London Inc.: “Near Your Kitchen Sink?” We’re working on it…)


Some of these are corny, and everyone knows they all refer to more or less the same thing, but these rebrands can still be important, say experts.

“This is an opportunity for organizations to loosen the strictures they had in the past and say, ‘We are a different kind of organization now,’” said Denise Rousseau, organizational behaviour professor at Carnegie Mellon, in an interview with Bloomberg.


To employers, it’s about ushering in new ways of thinking about hybrid work, which is now seen as a bit of a buzzword. Ditching the pandemic-era terms and going with something that is unique to the company has an air of permanence and forward-thinking-ness about it.


“We’re sort of freeing up the conversation to ask questions that we never really thought about asking, and pushing,” said Colleen McCreary, chief people officer at Credit Karma. “The leaders of companies to think about what is best for the bottom line, for our customers, and for our employees, all at the same time.” Kieran Delamont

Terry Talks: How quiet hiring is shaping the workforce

Quiet hiring is rapidly gaining popularity for the numerous benefits it offers both employees and employers. Filling skill gaps by empowering existing employees to develop their careers and upskill or reskill rather than hiring externally for those skills allows organizations to help their employees build meaningful careers within the business, which increases both retention and overall employer approval rates.



Dont know what you got (till it’s gone)

One way to fight restless feet? Re-recruit your current employees

DESPITE A WAVE of headlines covering layoffs, primarily at tech companies, the labour market remains tight and hiring remains difficult. In other words, the rebalancing of market power towards employees (who have been dealing with a slack labour market for the better part of the past 50 years) is far more than just a temporary pandemic blip.


This will be music to a lot of people’s ears on the jobhunting side of things, but it also means those recruitment headaches are not going anywhere anytime soon.


But what managers, HR departments and recruiters often miss when they focus on the talent walking out the door is that many employees would actually prefer to stay, given the right opportunity.


Microsoft’s annual work index found that 76 per cent of employees say they would stay with their current firm if they were given more opportunities to develop, yet companies have been laser focused throughout much of the last two years on struggles to attract.


“There is a clear connection between learning and retention,” Microsoft’s Liz Leigh-Bowler told Worklife. “If you prioritize learning and development support, employees will be more likely to stay with your company.”


Because employee turnover can be costly, some experts suggest that companies should double down on re-recruiting their existing talent — with raises, new responsibilities and better opportunities — rather than trying to compete in a labour market that no longer favours employers the way it once did.


“We spend a ton of money and energy looking for the right person. We pay lots of money to identify and attract top candidates. There are entire industries built around talent recruitment,” said Cornerstone’s Stephen Graves. “But then, once a new employee arrives, it’s as if we assume the job is done. We find someone great and persuade them to join us, and then we just walk off and assume they will stick and be productive and valuable and engaged and with us through every turn in the company and the market forever.”


“Don’t just let people go,” Graves stressed. “Re-recruit.” Kieran Delamont

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Speaking municipally

When it comes to the four-day workweek movement, did anyone expect small-town Ontario to lead the way?

IF YOU HAD to guess who was a global leader in the four-day workweek movement, would your guess be “small town Ontario?” Probably not — but another small Ontario municipality has just decided to make the reform permanent.


Last month, town councillors in the Municipality of French River in Northern Ontario voted to make their successful pilot permanent, praising the success of the program. Eighty-seven per cent of staff opted into the compressed schedule, the municipality said.


“I'm happy that this has worked out and that the employees are enjoying the new work schedule, alongside being able to service our public an extra half-hour per day," said Marc Gagnon, French River's chief administrative officer. Eighty-one per cent of all their employees backed the move.


The pilot differed from some other four-day workweek pilots in that it didn’t cut eight hours from the work week — it just compressed it. That allowed them to actually expand service hours rather than curtail them.


They aren’t the first small Ontario municipality to make this move, either. In late 2021, Zorra Township also opted to make their own four-day week scheme permanent, noting that it even helped them recruit candidates for open positions. And it makes a certain amount of sense: there’s very little fat to trim on the budget of most small Ontario municipalities, and providing service is always difficult. Any plan that improves moral, expands work hours, and makes it easier to attract staff, without expanding expenses too much, is a triple-whammy for a place like Zorra Township or French River.


And this even extended to French River’s own chief administrator, who cited his own feelings on the move.


“I've stayed on with the municipality,” Gagnon said, “going forward with this new council instead of choosing to retire.”


If it makes the boss happy…  Kieran Delamont


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