Candidate Comp Canada

Evolving Candidate Compensation Expectations in Canada

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By Spencer Greenwood

Sales & Delivery Manager

Both the Coronavirus pandemic and the “Great Resignation” have entirely changed how and who company executives are hiring.

A survey conducted by Statistics Canada in September of 2021 found that roughly 26.7 per cent of organizations expected to face obstacles regarding their ability to recruit and retain talent for the next three months. Additionally, the same survey found that 49.8 per cent of the construction industry, 47.4 per cent of the manufacturing industry, and 46.3 per cent of the food service and accommodations industry view recruiting and filling open positions as a challenge.

Gone are the days of holding out for the perfect candidate who checks every box with unnegotiable salaries. Instead, the power has shifted to the candidate. As candidates’ expectations for compensation have changed, organizations must now consider elements beyond salary to receive serious consideration for the position.

Now more than ever, the whole compensation package is essential to the hiring process.

 Recent job market trends

  • Labor shortage: The loss of businesses due to the pandemic and the recent uptick in the number of employee resignations have created large numbers of job vacancies. Additionally, in May of 2022, the unemployment rate among individuals aged 25 through 54 was 4.3 per cent. This matched the all-time low that was recorded just one month prior in April. The irony is, however, that as the economy recovers from its pandemic era and becomes more active, businesses are struggling to maintain employees and find new hires.
  • Increases in flexible work opportunities: Pre-pandemic, most organizations were reluctant to offer remote work or the ability to work a hybrid schedule. In fact, according to the 2016 Census of Population, before the pandemic, only 7.5 per cent of Canadian employees worked fully remotely. As of January 2022, Statistics Canada reported that 34.7 per cent of employees in the Toronto area and 40.0 per cent of employees in the Ottowa-Gatineau area worked fully from home.
  • Sought after transferable skills: A lesson learned during the pandemic; digital skills are crucially attractive to employers. Coding and programming skills have countless applications for businesses and can usually be conducted on-site and from home. IT skills are necessary for the survival of any company and therefore exceedingly valuable. In addition to businesses’ need for technologically adept candidates, soft skills such as leadership and creativity have proven to be immensely useful in driving productivity and growth.

How organizations can win over candidates

The short answer is for a business to have a more desirable compensation package than its competitors. A compensation package is the combination of both the salary and various other benefits a candidate would receive if they were to accept the position. Oftentimes, these packages help a candidate make a strategic decision regarding which offered position they accept. Some benefits that have become a staple due to the pandemic and the “Great Resignation” include the following:

  • Flexibility and hybrid work opportunities: During the pandemic, much of the workforce realized that they can be just as productive working from home as they can from the office. The Economic Research Institute survey found that 33 per cent of Canadians want to work fully from home even after the pandemic is over. 28 per cent want to work two days a week remotely and 20 per cent want to work one day a week remotely. Much of this desire for remote or hybrid work is rooted in flexibility and freedom. When asked what the positives of remote work situations were, people cited the ability to have flexible schedules and the lack of commute, which saves them time. Four-day work weeks are also becoming more and more popular to attract and retain talent and some companies have gone as far as providing a list of preapproved countries where their employees can work remotely from.
  • Home office allowance incentives: With the work from home option becoming more prominent, companies are offering a bonus to ensure their workers can make their home office comfortable and efficient.
  • Technology subsidy for remote positions: Remote work requires employees to use very specific technology equipment in order to properly do their job. According to the Economic Research Institute, 40 per cent of Canadian employees want proper home equipment to help them succeed. Compensation for the cost of this technology is a huge perk to many working these remote positions.
  • Wage Increase: According to a June 2022 Canada Statistics survey, the pace of wage increases continues to accelerate. In fact, in April 2022 alone, the number of employees earning over $40.00 an hour was up by 42.7 per cent when compared to April 2019. The same survey noted that 23.4 per cent fewer employees are willing to accept a position that pays less than $20.00 when compared to April of 2019. The result of this wage increase, caused largely by COVID, in a decreased labour supply of candidates willing to work for a wage that pays less than $20.00 per hour.
  • Wellness initiatives: The Economic Research Institute found that around 15 per cent of Canadian employees listed formal wellness as a top benefit that they want from their employers, while 14 per cent listed mental health resources and support from their employer as a top way that companies can support the work-life balance of their employees. These initiatives can include additional benefits that support mental health, offering seminars regarding mental health issues and topics, and offering an internal program that supports employee mental health.
  • Bonuses: Companies are using signing bonuses to get a slight advantage over the market. The Chartered Professionals in Human Resources survey also found that many Canadian companies offer one-time performance and retention bonuses. These give companies the ability to increase an employee’s pay without the risk of locking in raises into future years.
  • Professional development: To help their employees feel engaged and valued, organizations are offering reimbursements for workshops, seminars, and continuing education classes. Consider budgeting a set amount of money that an employee can use on professional development courses per year.
  • Unlimited PTO: As long as it doesn’t interfere with their ability to get their work done, an unlimited PTO policy allows employees to take as much time as they choose. Unlimited PTO boosts morale and helps foster a more healthy work-life balance.
  • Pet insurance: Many people adopted a pet to help cope throughout the pandemic. Workplaces have taken notice and have included pets in medical insurance.
  • Paid volunteer days: Organizations are offering each employee a specific number of days per year where he/she can volunteer in the community while still being paid for the day.

While a company may not want to or may not be financially able to simply increase the salary of every position, to remain competitive in the hiring market, there are other solutions that candidates will value just as much. In fact, many of these solutions may help the organization to create the work experience that candidates desire.

This blog was authored by Acara Sales and Delivery Manager Spencer Greenwood.