February 2021 Hiring Outlook

The Demand For Skilled Talent

2021: A Year of Recovery and Rebuilding

Companies expect to hire this year, yet staffing challenges persist. Remote and hybrid work is the new normal, and many workers are considering relocation. The Demand For Skilled Talent offers insight into how staffing and management strategies are changing in 2021.

Staffing Remains a Challenge

Hiring Trends and Top Positions

The Rise of the ‘Anywhere Workforce’

Relocation on the Mind

5 Ways to Support Staff

Statistics Canada Snapshot

Unemployment Rate (December 2020): 8.6%

Jobs Declined (December 2020): 62,600*

12-Month Employment Losses (December 2020): 606,100**

*Seasonally Adjusted

**Seasonally Adjusted, January 2020 to December 2020

Employers’ Business Confidence Levels

Percentage of business leaders who are only somewhat confident or not confident that their teams can take on strategic projects right now:

63%

Percentage of business leaders who are only somewhat confident or not confident that their teams can take on unexpected projects right now:

69%

Employers’ Hiring and Pay Increase Plans

Employers Hiring 43%

of hiring leaders plan to add new positions in 2021.

Employers Hiring 47%

plan to only fill vacated positions or bring back temporarily laid off employees.

Employers Hiring 36%

of companies that suspended salary increases last year because of the pandemic expect to reinstate them during the first six months of this year.

Staffing Remains a Challenge

96% of business leaders say it’s very or somewhat challenging for their company to find skilled professionals.

Leaders’ Responses by Profession

See trends for each area of business.

*Percentage reflects Q4 2020 unemployment rate

Top Positions

Financial auditors/accountants

Financial and investment analysts

Executive assistants

Receptionists

Data entry clerks

Payroll clerks

Customer service representatives

Administrative clerks

Legal secretaries

38% of finance executives said they are hiring for new positions; 50% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back temporarily laid off employees.

91% are concerned about losing top accounting and finance performers to other job opportunities in the next 12 months.

CFOs plan to develop current accounting and finance teams in the coming year, with a focus on:

  • Upskilling (i.e., expanding capabilities of employees within their current role): 30%
  • Reskilling to meet current business demands: 31%

*Labour Force Survey, December 2020, Statistics Canada, Jan. 8, 2021.

Source: Robert Half survey of 300 CFOs in Canada

*Percentage reflects Q4 2020 unemployment rate

Top Positions

Financial managers

Business services managers

Sales/marketing/advertising managers

54% of senior managers said their company has hired new employees remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

33% said their company had shortened the hiring process in the last year.

26% said building and maintaining employee morale is their greatest staffing-related challenge right now.

*Labour Force Survey, December 2020, Statistics Canada, Jan 8, 2021.

Source: Robert Half survey of 600 senior managers in Canada

*Percentage reflects Q4 2020 unemployment rate

Top Positions

Information systems analysts

Database analysts

Computer programmers

Web designers/developers

Computer network technicians

User support technicians

39% of IT leaders said they are hiring for new positions; 49% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back temporarily laid off employees.

52% said they plan to increase the number of interim, project-based or contract IT employees on their staff.

87% are concerned with losing top IT employees to other job opportunities in the next 12 months.

*Labour Force Survey, December 2020, Statistics Canada, Jan. 8, 2021.

Source: Robert Half survey of 270 IT senior managers with hiring responsibilities in Canada

*Percentage reflects Q4 2020 unemployment rate

Top Positions

Law clerks and related occupations

Lawyers and notaries

55% of lawyers said their law firms or companies are hiring for new positions; 40% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back temporarily laid off employees.

57% of open positions, on average, will be filled on an interim, project or consulting basis.

89% said they are concerned with losing top legal performers to other job opportunities in the next 12 months.

*Labour Force Survey, December 2020, Statistics Canada, Jan. 8, 2021.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 150 lawyers with hiring responsibilities in Canada

The Rise of the ‘Anywhere Workforce’

Remote work is here to stay. Many employers plan to adopt a hybrid workforce, where some employees will work remotely and others will work in the office. Managers also weigh in on the top advantages and challenges of this dual approach.

Biggest Benefits of Hybrid Work Teams

31%

Retention of key employees due to more flexibility/work-life balance

21%

Reduction in office/real estate costs

18%

Business continuity/productivity

Biggest Challenges of Hybrid Work Teams

26%

Sustaining team engagement/productivity

16%

Keeping up with HR trends/compliance

15%

Transitioning company culture to a hybrid environment

Multiple responses were permitted. Top responses are shown.

Managers are looking ahead to the workforce of the future and the skills they need their teams to develop, but employees are feeling weary in the interim.

Employer Perspectives

Companies’ View of the New Normal Following the Pandemic

63%

of senior managers expect a hybrid of a remote and in-office workforce.

19%

anticipate a fully in-office workforce.

18%

foresee a fully remote workforce.

Skills Employers Want to Help Workers Improve in the Next 12 Months

36%

Functional, job-specific skills

34%

Soft skills

30%

Technology skills

Worker Sentiments

How Employees Are Feeling During the Pandemic

33%

of employees are more burned out today than a year ago.

44%

suffer from video call fatigue.

43%

want to emphasize personal life over their job moving forward.

Remote Work Rolls into Weekends

55%

of professionals who transitioned to a remote setup said they work on weekends.

56%

of working parents put in weekend hours versus 54% of those workers without children.

34%

often log more than eight hours of work a day.

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Relocation on the Mind

It’s no surprise that remote work has led some employees to consider relocating to less expensive cities. But does it pay to relocate?

Workers Open to Relocating if Allowed Long-Term Remote Work

44%

of employees would consider relocating to a different city.

37%

say the primary reason they would relocate is a change of scenery or lifestyle.

84%

are not willing to take a pay cut if they relocate.

Companies Support Relocation for Employees Working Remotely

48%

of companies allow temporary relocation.

27%

allow permanent relocation.

24%

do not allow relocation.

Businesses to Adjust Salaries for Employees Who Permanently Relocate

69%

of companies will base the salary of an employee who relocates to a different cost-of-living city on their original office location.

22%

will base salary on the market the employee lives in and works from — even if that means a pay cut.

9%

are not sure if or how they would adjust salaries for employees who relocate.

5 Ways to Support Staff

Operating a business with fewer resources and more demands puts pressure on existing staff. Here are tips for managers to help employees rise to the challenge.

1. Promote virtual training and learning.

There are many affordable online professional development options even if budgets are leaner.

2. Enhance work-life balance.

Adopt flexible policies or windowed work to improve work-life balance and boost staff morale.

3. Foster well-being and mental health.

Communicate with team members two to three times more often to gauge their feelings and offer wellness resources or counselling help lines.

4. Take interest in employees’ career goals.

Show what career-path options are available to team members to help keep them more engaged, productive and loyal.

5. Give employees workload relief.

Even if hiring new staff is not an option right now, take some of the pressure off employees by bringing in skilled temporary professionals.

Sources:

Labour Force Summary — December 2020, Statistics Canada, Jan. 8, 2021

Labour Unemployment Numbers — December 2020, Statistics Canada, Jan. 8, 2021

Robert Half survey of 300 CFOs in Canada, December 2020

Robert Half survey of 600 senior managers with hiring responsibilities in Canada, December 2020

Robert Half survey of more than 270 IT senior managers with hiring responsibilities in Canada, December 2020

Robert Half survey of more than 150 lawyers with hiring responsibilities in Canada, December 2020

Robert Half survey of more than 500 workers 18 years of age or older in Canada – July-August 2020 and October- November 2020 and more than 500 workers in Canada, May 2020