Employees are on the lookout for new jobs – and better pay

Canadian workers cite higher salary, better benefits and company perks and more flexibility as primary factors in their job search

Employees are on the lookout for new jobs – and better pay

Your workforce could start to look a whole lot smaller.

New research from talent solutions and business consulting firm Robert Half found half of Canadian professionals have started looking or plan to start looking for a new job in the second half of 2024. This is compared to 41 per cent of workers who reported plans to look for a new job during the same period last year.

Not surprisingly, the primary reason for these statistics is the cost of living, says Tara Parry, workplace expert and director at Robert Half. “If you distill all that backwards, it comes to everybody's favourite topic these days, the cost of living in Canada,” she says. “Compensation is a direct way to try and influence that for yourself.”

Respondents in the survey cited several factors motivating the move to look for new work, including a higher salary (60 per cent), better benefits and perks (50 per cent), more flexibility (32 per cent) and a higher-level title (31 per cent).

Parry is quick to point out that while 50 per cent of people are looking for jobs, the other half of respondents also want to stay. “We can't just think only about people who want to move, we have to think about those people who stay and the people who are staying. Most of them are staying because of a fear of a loss in flexibility if they were to move,” Parry noted.

Secondary to that is Canadians enjoy the people and the work culture of their organization. If employees don't like where they're working or who they're working with, Parry added, even if they have a lot of flexibility, they will end up looking for something new.

“A lot of people feel like they're working with a really good team and have a good corporate culture that they're a part of, and they have a level of flexibility that works for them,” Parry highlighted. “There's a fear that they would lose that if they move somewhere else.”

When asked what “flexibility” means as a factor for employees, Parry says “it’s the million-dollar question.”

“Flexibility can mean so many different things to different people. In its most basic terms, it’s flexibility of where and when people work. It’s about how many days in a week they're allowed to work from home versus work from the office. Is there flexibility around start time and end time? Those are the two most critical parts of that flexibility piece,” she explained.

The last year has been an unusual one, in terms of the job market and for job seekers, Parry highlighted. While the labour market has been really tight for specific roles and skillsets, the unemployment rate has also increased. There aren't a lot of people available for jobs and employers still need to hire for the open positions.

Parry says the giant Asterix around the job market paints a gloomy picture for those looking for new work. With the cost of interest rates, a lot of employers have been slowly hiring, delaying hiring or not hiring at all. When they do need to hire, they're being very specific about the skillset they're hiring for.

“The demand is still high for very specific skillsets. Employers are putting the brakes on hiring, and being very picky and specific about who they hire, which has made it a really hard market for job seekers,” she says.

Robert Half’s research also found hiring managers feel like they've made a bad hire in the last year. Last year, 40 per cent of hiring managers said they made a poor choice in hiring, whereas a year earlier, it was only 17 per cent, Parry explained.

“There's two-fold in that. One, a good number of people haven't been looking for work. Because the markets been tight, and people are nervous to look for work when the job market is insecure. The other reason is because employers were being so picky about who they were hiring and taking so long to hire, really good candidates were just withdrawing from the process.”

Going forward, Robert Half says employers need to be aware of potential mistakes that can detract from landing top-talent. Workers surveyed in the report revealed that they'd lose interest in a position due to a mismatched title for experience/education required within the description, a requirement to work on-site with no potential for remote work, vague or unreasonable job responsibilities, reporting lines and career path, learning there has been high employee turnover and no salary range listed in the job description.

“54 per cent of workers have said that they won't apply for a role because of the lack of salary transparency in the job posting,” Parry highlighted. “Salary transparency is a huge factor for whether somebody will apply for a job or not. Employers who are still not listing any kind of salary range on their posting are doing themselves a disservice.”