Is the Great Resignation Real in Canada or Not?

image of the Canada and US flags and a border marker on a hillIs “The Great Resignation” real in Canada or not? 
(BTW, if you don’t have a Globe & Mail subscription, you can only open it once, so print it off so you can return to it!)

First off, we do not have the same quality labour market data the US collects; even if we could accurately compare one data set to the other, having less of a significant problem doesn’t call for us to rule it out. That’s like saying, “well, the fire was only isolated to the kitchen.” Must the whole house burn down to constitute a crisis? (Try telling that to the homeowner trying to find a contractor to fix their lovely kitchen.) If your retention fire is burning, it’s causing damage that needs fixing.

Every day, I speak with clients who are experiencing:

  • an application desert
  • interviewee no-shows
  • resignations before training’s even over
  • shortened tenure
  • less willingness or ability to work extra shifts
  • opting out of the industry entirely
  • choosing flexibility over money

These are the same trends my US audiences are dealing with, granted perhaps in less volume. It’s what causes HR professionals to bite their nails down to the nubs, CEOs to keep retention on every SMT meeting agenda, and new money to be dedicated to the problem of turnover and retention.

image of one person pointing a 3 people who are pointing back to shift blame Blame is sprayed widely:

  • the younger generations
  • apathy
  • disloyalty

However, blame, and a problem-centric mentality only causes more frustration. (And, show me the data that these are valid reasons.)

As Einstein said: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Spend your 55 minutes drilling down into WHY your team, organization, and industry cannot get enough of the right folks in the door. Then, 5 minutes of solving the issue.

Here’s an educated guess. A key solution will involve recognition. I don’t know a single person who has left their job because they were “too appreciated.”

image of a boss holding a gold star to show recognitionIf you don’t show your people they matter, they’re needed, can grow with you, and that flexibility is supported whenever possible, then expect they will keep looking. They’re job “window shopping.” The playing field is wide open. That means the employee-employer relationship has been redefined; power differentials have shrunk (I’d argue rightly so). Sure, not everyone has their pick of jobs (some still find it tough to find a delicious role). However, folks aren’t so willing to settle – with toxic workplaces, lack of inclusion, micromanagement, broken promises, unfair compensation, excessive commutes, and misalignment with values professed from what they see – and why should they?

Solve the right “problem” with turnover, and you address it long-term. The question isn’t “Is the ‘The Great Resignation’ truly here in Canada?” That is about reacting, and we need to be thinking about responding.

We may be having “Great Resignation Lite”; however, it’s still wreaking havoc. Might this be the perfect opportunity to create a culture people would opt in even if there wasn’t a crisis? One where everyone belongs and is valued? One with recognition at the center of it all?

Perhaps this will be the best version of culture, performance, and reputation for employees, leaders, and the organization alike. Now that is a delicious rebuilding for the ashes.

Here are some great resources to help you avoid a long-term retention crisis:

P.S. Happy Canada Day on Friday to my fellow Canuks!

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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