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‘Big Stay’ takes hold in Canada as economic concerns deepen



‘Big Stay’ takes hold in Canada as economic concerns deepen

77% of Canadian professionals say fears around job security are preventing them from moving jobs

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Economic uncertainty and a rising unemployment rate are making Canadian workers think twice about switching jobs, a phenomenon that has been dubbed “The Big Stay.”

According to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey released on June 7, the job switching rate was just 0.41 per cent in May. That’s more than a 41 per cent decrease from its 0.69 per cent monthly average prior to the pandemic in 2019.

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Financial Post

A recent poll from global recruitment consultancy firm Robert Walters found 77 per cent of Canadian professionals said that fears around job security are preventing them from moving jobs.

“The emergence of ‘the Big Stay’ is testament to the volatility of the economy — which has had a severe dent on business and employee confidence,” said Martin Fox, Robert Walters Canada’s managing director.

This trend, if prolonged, could be counterproductive for Canada’s economy, he said.

Employees who choose to stay put sacrifice the potential for better pay and skills development elsewhere, in the belief that they may be more “secure,” he said, even though statistics show professionals who move jobs more often earn more over their working lives.

By comparison, Fox noted that just three years ago the hot trend in labour markets was the Great Resignation, which saw professionals quit and take on new job opportunities at record rates, driving starter salaries to new highs.

Now that process seems to be reversing.

Brendon Bernard, senior economist at Indeed, noted that after a temporary pandemic bounce back, since mid-2022, Canadians have been changing jobs much less often than they used to.

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“If job seekers are less optimistic about the economic situation, they may hold off on exploring the unknown with a new employer, especially if their existing position is tolerable,” said Bernard.

In April, net job security plunged to 44.9 per cent, its lowest level since May 2020, according to a Nanos Research Group poll for Bloomberg News.

That poll found that almost three in 10 Canadians — 29 per cent — now say they are unsure how secure their job is, up 11 points in less than two months.

Fox said there appears to be a month-on-month decline in the number of new permanent job roles — underpinned by risk averse organizations trying to be cost conscious.

“Part of the slowdown in job hopping reflects a cool down in employer hiring appetite,” said Bernard. “Meaning there are fewer new opportunities to jump to, compared to the strong conditions that prevailed in 2022.”

The Robert Walters poll said 80 per cent of Canadian workers put job security over pay when considering a new role, which the firm described as an “overwhelming” shift in priorities.

Two-thirds or 65 per cent of professionals say the state of the economy plays a “significant role” in their decision on whether to move jobs, with inflation (40 per cent), the unemployment rate (21 per cent) and GDP growth (4 per cent) being primary considerations.

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On the employers’ side, 74 per cent of companies say that questions around job security come up during the interview process, the survey said. Meanwhile, 82 per cent of companies say they have seen an increase in job offer declines this year.

Megan Gallagher, senior recruitment consultant for human resources and legal at Robert Walters Canada, said professionals are taking a more thoughtful approach to career changes in the current climate.

“With layoffs well reported in media, professionals’ fear around ‘last-in, first-out’ is sky high, and they aren’t entirely in the wrong,” said Gallagher.

She said that professionals who are still eager to apply and interview for new roles, even if they are met with enticing offers, carefully consider whether the risk is “worth taking” in accepting the new job.

“Whilst lay-offs should be a strategic decision, it would be amiss to not recognize that there is a layer of emotion behind the decisions around who goes,” she added.

A recent survey conducted by Indeed with Angus Reid in May revealed that on average, it takes about 11 weeks for Canadians to find a job, from application to offer.

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The study said 55 per cent of Canadians who are searching for a new job say finding relevant job postings is the most challenging aspect of the job search.

Robert Walters surveyed respondents from its own database of over 300 companies and 1,500 “white collar” professionals across Canada in June.

“From my experience, when a company is fully transparent about their financial position or industry barriers — this only helps to ensure that the ‘right fit’ accepts the job and is frankly ‘up for the challenge,’” said Fox.

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