Canada’s tech industry continues to grow, as does its need for talent. According to a recent report by the Innovation Economy Council, the Canadian tech industry lost a big portion of its international tech talent due to pandemic border closures. Now Canadian companies are struggling to attract foreign talent to move North. Understanding the trends impacting the workplace and the labour market is fundamental to remaining competitive in both recruiting and retention.

Decrease in Foreign Talent

Before the pandemic, international talent was flocking to Canada’s booming tech sector. Toronto had the second-largest talent boom next to Silicon Valley. Employees were becoming more and more attracted to Canada due to the country’s diverse and open reputation. However, the pandemic forced international borders to close for an extended time, causing this boom to slow down.

The pandemic also led to a large-scale career reconsideration, with record numbers of workers voluntarily leaving their positions. Reasons include backlogged retirements, burnout, trepidation over returning to the office and general ‘pandemic epiphanies’. 

Recently, we at the Canadian Workplace Culture Index partnered with the Angus Reid Institute to poll employees across Canada from workplaces of various sizes and industries. One particular finding jumps off the page: 60 percent of respondents indicated that a 10 percent raise would sufficiently entice them to leave their current job for the same position elsewhere. Needless to say, this is a very concerning situation for CEOs. 

Company Culture

Company culture can be a differentiator if it’s prioritized. Unfortunately, many companies seem unable or unwilling to do so. Thirty percent of respondents believe that people get away with bullying in their organization, while more than a third think that senior managers don’t make an effort to listen to, check in, or connect with employees. 

Many companies find themselves in a vicious circle: exits leave them short-staffed, which leaves remaining personnel to deal with increasing workloads, leading to further burnout and more exits. 

The tech industry is certainly not immune. While there may be no magic solution, communication goes a long way. Dialogue and resources surrounding mental health and Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) send a powerful signal to employees and can move the needle on company loyalty. 

Remote, Hybrid and In-Person Working Models

Some prefer working from home, while others thrive in an office environment. One thing is for certain: everybody now has an opinion. Companies that lack flexibility will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting. 

Tech is ahead of the curve in this regard, with many in the industry already accustomed to remote work. While those in other industries fumble around with Zoom buttons, it may not be technical aspects that create a challenge within tech, but cultural ones. Communication, collaboration and teamwork are key, and companies must find successful approaches to facilitating them remotely. 

Another consequence of the remote workforce is the untethering of physical proximity from recruiting. As a result, compensation expectations will become de-linked from geography. 

Managing Five Generations of Workers

Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Y are all present in today’s workplace. While tech is forward-looking by nature, it’s important to establish mentorships and facilitate the exchange of knowledge.

Equally important is providing each generation with a fulfilling environment. For all of the discussion surrounding generational differences, studies show that the desire for flexibility, work-life balance and employers who reflect employee values spans generations.  

Evolving Benefits and Perks Paradigm

Benefits packages are becoming increasingly personal. Investment matching, personal development programs, home office budgets, child care and flexible vacation packages are among popular perks. When competing to recruit and retain top talent during an employee’s market, nothing is off the table! 

Soft Skills are Hard to Ignore

It goes without saying that the technology industry requires technical skills. What’s also irrefutable is that much of this specific know-how has a shelf life. Like those in other industries, tech companies are wisely emphasizing softer skills such as communication, organization, problem-solving, project management and resourcefulness. Technology may impact the day-to-day operations of the workplace, but these aptitudes will continue to be relevant. 

Though not simple, the path forward to creating a workforce that is resilient against the factors that have led to workplace attrition boil down to creating a bond between company and employee. Team members want to feel appreciated through salaries, creative benefits packages, JEDI initiatives, flexibility, and two-way communication and they want to know that the companies that they work for prioritize work-life balance and happiness. Those that do these things will position themselves as leaders in recruitment and retention.

Assessment and certification processes, like the ones we conduct at the Canadian Workplace Culture Index, can help measure and improve company culture. While there are unique challenges affecting today’s workplace, staffing chief among them, there are also incredible opportunities for those who rise to the challenge. 

Kemp Edmonds is the Managing Director of The Canadian Workplace Culture Index.

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