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We crowdsourced trending HR topics and compiled a bite-sized snapshot of the 23 topics that will be top of mind for employers across Canada in 2023.
As a team, we crowdsourced the “trending HR topics for 2023” and ended up compiling a long list of issues and insights related to all things people and culture. To save you time—we’re all busy at the start of the year—we’ve compiled a bite-sized snapshot of the 23 topics that will be top of mind for employers across Canada this year. And over the coming months, we’ll share a deeper dive on each topic right here on our blog. Stay tuned!
The debate over WHERE employees should work is still on fire. Those in favour of “onsite” say remote employees are lonely and less productive at home, while those in favour of “remote” point to the painful commute and added costs of onsite work. And as for hybrid, we’re getting mixed reviews: parents find navigating two distinct work/home schedules challenging, while leaders find it difficult to build a strong culture among dispersed teams. Who will win the Great Location Debate? Only time will tell. Expect it to smoulder for years to come.
Post-pandemic, meetings continue to drain the life out of organizations and lower our mental health. And since Outlook calendars don’t clean up by themselves, some companies are taking aim. In addition to Shopify's big announcement, other tech companies have introduced things like “meeting cleanup” days, “meeting doomsday,” “Focus Fridays” and more. Read about it here: This Company Is Canceling All Meetings With More Than Two Employees To Free Up Workers’ Time. Be ruthless in deleting needless or excessive meetings company-wide. Be bold to help your employees learn to guard their calendars against meeting creep and cause uninterrupted focus time.
Many employers are asking us the same question: With layoffs in the tech sector and ongoing rumblings of a recession, will we see a sudden surge of available talent? The answer is a definitive NO. Canada simply doesn’t have enough workers for our ~1 million unfilled jobs. Even with a recession, the demand for skilled workers across all sectors—especially in construction and healthcare and particularly mid-tier talent with 5-10 years of experience—in all fields is so high, it will take a lot more than immigration to fill our vacancies. And it’s only getting worse. As our population ages, more people are retiring (retirements jumped by almost 50% in 2022 over the previous year). And wait, there’s more. Growing numbers of workers are leaving their jobs whether from boredom or burnout (last fall, 12% of employees were considering leaving, 50% more than in January 2022) and many workers switched professions entirely during the pandemic (and aren’t going back). All of this adds up to fierce competition for skilled workers for the foreseeable future. Put everything you’ve got into competing for the best people. Recruit consistently and proactively. Make employee retention a cornerstone of every management meeting.
Rising inflation (hovering around 7%) is spurring workers to look for higher compensation. But among those employers able to offer pay increases, many can’t afford to match inflation (the average salary increase in Canada is projected to be 4.2% in 2023, according to Eckler), leaving a growing earnings-to-cost-of-living gap that may cause even more workers to jump ship. What can you do if you can’t pay more? Get creative. Offer a one-time inflation bonus; flexible work location/hours/days; new coaching, upskilling and learning opportunities; extra paid time off (vacation, Flex Days, wellness days, sabbaticals, job-sharing etc.); expanded job titles and career pathing.
The global push for increased pay transparency is gaining steam, driven by the sharply rising cost of living and ongoing pay discrepancies, especially among women and underrepresented groups. NYC recently mandated salary ranges on most job postings, and a similar mandate is likely to take effect in the EU in 2024. Will Canada be next? It’s complicated. According to Indeed Canada, 66% of new job postings contained salary information (as of Q4 2021). The federal Pay Equity Act only applies to federally regulated workers and so far, PEI is the only province that requires public salary disclosure. Be on the lookout for pay transparency legislation in 2023.
Inflation, recession, war, pandemic. Who can be joyful when there’s so much to worry about? We’re all checking social media more and sleeping less, leading to a general sense of malaise these days. A recent study found one-third of working Canadians felt burned out, with anxiety at an all-time high for many workers. For employers: create meaningful conversations, develop leadership skills around authenticity, slow down to offer more impactful coaching and time management, promote your EFAP, and foster a workplace that is truly inclusive. If there ever was a time for empathy and supportive listening skills, it’s now.
As we move more of our businesses into the cloud and access more data remotely, cyber threats are set to increase even further. Yes, the IT team drives cyber risk management, but the HR team plays a pivotal role, too. HR can support a strong cybersecurity culture from day one, ensuring employees are trained (and retrained!) in cyber policies and procedures, participating in safeguarding sensitive information and ensuring that at the end of an employee’s tenure, the organization’s data is well protected. Studies show that 75% of insider threat cases involve disgruntled ex-employees (and experts predict that a slowing economy could push even more people into cybercrime). (read more)To protect your organization, make cybersecurity one of your core HR pillars.
To no one’s surprise, resignations have been part of a growing trend. However, exactly who is resigning may be an eye-opener. Mothers are leaving the workforce at a higher rate, the newer working population is questioning the purpose of work altogether, and some other workers are choosing to create a career out of a patchwork of non-traditional income sources (e.g., it seems like everyone is striving to be an Influencer). Add to this the spike of retirements not only based on age, but also early retirements in essential professions, in particular healthcare, education and construction. Crowdsource creative retention solutions tailored to each employee you’ve got.
Many organizations, including ours, have taken enormous care to create a more inclusive workplace and be accountable for how they take action in the space of DEI. While there have been many successes, there’s also a sense in the business community about what to do next. How can we keep pushing the boundaries to create both equity and equality? HR leaders are in the unique position to continue making a powerful impact. And not all actions have to be immense; even small, incremental changes can make a difference. Consider how your organization welcomes newcomers, honours both race and religion, and respects and includes gender and sexual diversity. Don’t give up; take one more step for justice and equality and focus on small, incremental changes.
Buyer—or employer—beware. While it’s tempting in today’s labour market to offer a great candidate a “job-on-the-spot,” it’s more critical than ever to confirm they are who they say. After all, hiring is time-consuming and expensive, so it’s best to get it right from the start. Before you begin to staff a position, determine what verification and validation you will need prior to job offer. Verify things like their driver’s license and insurance (if they’ll drive for work), and perform a credit or vulnerable sector check, if needed. And be sure to validate their resume dates (do they match those on their LinkedIn profile?), references (they should be meaningful, not just friends) and their professional certifications (e.g., their CPA, CHRP, etc. should be in good standing).
With the wave of retirements already underway, companies across our nation are set to lose critical experience and know-how. An active and proactive Succession Plan (also known as a Replacement Plan or Continuity Plan) will help your business operate effectively as essential people retire. It’s also a great way to retain your existing talent, as they get the opportunity to cross-train and deepen their understanding of the organization. Effective succession planning can take 12–36 months, so it’s best to assign ownership to one person with a project plan to ensure an ongoing commitment. Then, identify essential roles that are at risk and highlight your succession candidates. Nurture the transfer of vision, skills, processes, decision-making, communication and authority; fill in skills gaps with focused learning and development; and test out the replacement plan to ensure expertise has been acquired. And don’t forget to think about your own successor as you continue to build your career plan. Succession planning will boost morale, retain knowledge and reduce future stress.
Everywhere you turn, there’s a game egging you on to get more steps in, be the first to buy something or learn a new skill. What about games in the workplace? Many organizations are gamifying training and development through Learning Management Systems, but as newer generations enter the workforce, gaming is going to reach more areas of the workplace (70% of people under 25 prefer gaming to watching videos, according to McKinsey). Gen Z, in particular, grew up gaming, so challenges, prizes, avatars and leaderboards are key to engaging this cohort at work—in everything from completing a task to using systems correctly. And it’s not just about fun. Studies have shown a direct link between gamification and increased motivation, engagement and productivity. So, game on! Boost engagement in everyday tasks by weaving in games.
The first 90 days of a new hire’s tenure are critical. In this short window, they need to absorb everything—the operational elements (what their role is and how to do it), the social side of things (who to connect with and how) and the bigger, loftier elements (the organization’s purpose, vision and goals). It’s a tall order. And in many cases, they do it all remotely. So, it’s no wonder some new hires take longer to get up to speed, make connections and contribute to the organization. To set them up for success and boost retention, onboarding needs to be organized, effective, engaging and caring. It’s so important to get it right, a study by Brandon Hall groups says good onboarding can increase employee retention by 82%. Since remote hires can’t learn “on the floor,” consider assigning a learning buddy. Help them connect with others by intentionally making time for casual conversations with the team. And be sure not to assume basic knowledge—not everyone knows how to use Zoom, Teams or other collaboration tools, so they might need some pointers. Set up an automated workflow covering all critical operational, social and visionary elements that new hires need to learn in the first 90 days.
Try not to burn bridges. If an employee leaves in good standing, part ways as allies and advocates of each other because you never know when they’ll want to return as a Boomerang hire…bringing all their knowledge back with them. (The grass, as they say, is not always greener.) And if hiring them back isn’t in the cards, it’s always a good idea to build strong brand ambassadors who will help you attract new talent and customers. The more people you have networking for your organization, the higher the odds of attracting strong candidates. Take special care to support laid-off workers, too. You may want to hire them back someday!
That’s right, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for their employees when they work onsite and remotely. This means having up-to-date H&S policies and practices that encompass physical, ergonomic, psychological and harassment elements, and more—a complex undertaking considering today’s flexible work scenarios. For example, hybrid workers might find themselves working in an office building all by themselves, with no certified first aid provider on site. For home-based employees, there remains a requirement for the employer to ensure that their work arrangement is safe, including a working smoke alarm, first aid kit and ergonomic setup. To request a copy of our Work from Home Attestation, please email email@example.com.
It’s never been more difficult to be a leader. Today, they’re supposed to be experts in everything—strategy, managing distributed teams, talent shortages, mental health, DEI and all things HR (culture, hiring, retention). And most importantly, they’re also expected to be empathetic, kind and caring. It’s a tall order and as the saying goes, something’s gotta give. We can’t keep pushing leaders to be everything to everyone or we risk ending up with no one. Leaders require a differentiated level of care, active coaching and tailored support and tools to achieve their wellness and business goals. Consider engaging leadership coaches who can support your leaders to be the most effective and joyful they can be. After all, leaders are people, too.
Today’s work-from-anywhere workers are flying or driving to “work-somewhere-else” just for a change of scenery. And with fewer health restrictions, this mix of business and leisure (i.e., bleisure) travel is set to take off in 2023, eclipsing traditional business travel (surveys found 89% of people plan to add personal vacation time to business travel this year). But while becoming a “digital nomad” sounds good, there’s a catch for employees and employers alike. If your employee’s “Place of Residence” is outside your company’s main jurisdiction, there are taxation, payroll, employment standards, H&S, cybersecurity and benefits implications—and more. Read our blog for details. Update your employment contracts to include jurisdiction. Make sure employees notify you if they plan on working from another geography, even temporarily.
When’s the last time you Googled your own organization? You can bet today’s candidates have done so. With more choice these days, candidates are doing more research, so they can pick the employer that works for them. Your employer brand is a critical element of your talent acquisition program, encompassing everything from your reputation and employee experience to your commitment to DEI and value proposition. It’s the public face of your brand across all channels and includes not only what you say about your organization, but also what others say about you. And while it may be time-consuming to build and maintain, LinkedIn says a good employer brand draws 50% more qualified applicants. Be sure to communicate your culture, principles and vision across all channels (including in job descriptions!), train your interviewers to discuss the many benefits of working for you, and ask your employees to share their experiences on social media. Audit your brand beyond your website; invest in building a positive experience that highlights why your organization is a standout place to work.
In today’s workplace, with distributed teams, variable schedules, new technologies and younger generations at work, the old ways of measuring productivity don’t always match the new ways of working. Instead of focusing on quantitative data—how many, how much or how often—consider the qualitative measures of productivity, like how well someone is delivering and what kinds of relationships they’re building. Work with your team member to determine what success looks like in their role, and then check in regularly to see how they’re measuring up to it. If a metric doesn’t help improve processes, deliverables and culture, don’t measure it.
Who likes performance reviews? [Crickets.] A typical review is usually about things employees are doing wrong and the things they need to improve, so the dread is real. Here’s an idea: try focusing on the employee’s core strengths and the things they’re already doing well. Then, coach them to become even stronger in those core areas. And always keep in mind, if the main goal is to help the team member evolve, excel and move forward, it might mean moving them into a new seat entirely, which is worth the effort. When someone is in a seat that draws exclusively on their true strengths, they shine naturally, so the performance review process will be a breeze. Replace performance reviews with active strength-finding and coaching.
Rather than allowing institutional knowledge to walk out the door when an employee leaves, why not keep them growing with you? According to LinkedIn, companies with solid career pathing programs retain their employees nearly twice as long as those who don’t (on average, 5.4 years). And when it comes to hiring new employees, career growth is a big carrot, too. In fact, Monster found that 37% of Gen Z jobseekers want to see advancement opportunities right in the job ad, itself. There’s no one way for someone to advance. Try offering stretch assignments and job shadowing, show them how they can advance if they develop the required skills, and offer job rotations, so they can try their hand at something new. The key is to be proactive, intentional and open to speaking about career pathing with your employees regularly, rather than waiting for them to bring it up. Post-pandemic, many workers are looking for a change—either new jobs or new skills. Be proactive in providing the opportunity for both.
Ghosts are real. That is, the no-shows at interviews or even on the job itself. Ghosting isn’t new, but it is on the rise. According to one recent survey, 28% of job seekers say they’ve ghosted an employer (up from 18% in 2019) and 76% of employers say they’ve been ghosted in the past year. To keep candidates engaged, stay in touch every few days, be transparent about each stage in the interview process—what it entails, and the schedule and length of time required—and clarify the screening process right from the start. Try to shorten the interview process and reduce the number of interviews to avoid candidates losing interest and moving on. And don’t assume that because an employment offer has been accepted that the candidate will show up. Employers are seeing new-hire no-shows on day one. We recommend staying in touch post offer to ensure continued commitment. Play your best hand from the start. Wow them with your preparedness, engagement, compensation and flexibility plan at the first hello.
After reading through the 22 trending HR topics above, is it any surprise that the role of CHRO has undergone a seismic shift over the past few years? Just as CFOs gained critical importance after the 2008 recession, so too have CHROs post-pandemic. In recent years, their role has expanded to include creating the future strategy around people, developing business continuity plans, aligning the vision of the organization around talent, culture, DEI and mental health, and highlighting the concept of wellbeing as a critical business pillar. In fact, their work has become so core to business success, according to a 2022 survey by Executive Networks, HR issues like talent retention and attraction are increasingly being prioritized on Board of Directors agendas. Since all these trending topics tie back to HR, expect to see the CHRO step out of the sidelines and into the limelight in 2023 and beyond. If you never thought of HR as mission-critical, think again.
Our collaborative team of more than 200 specialized recruiters places more than 8,500 skilled candidates per year in permanent, contract and temporary roles from coast to coast. Fast and flexible, our highly trained professionals source hard-to-find talent for roles ranging from entry-level to executive, supporting clients in the public and private sectors, as well as in publicly held companies and not-for-profits. Our areas of focus include:
If you have any feedback or questions about any of the topics in this special report, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org