Underpaid employees willing to quit in tight labour market

28 September 2021 Consulting.ca 3 min. read
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With employees feeling underpaid, robust compensation packages will be a critical factor in recruiting and retaining workers amid the current talent crunch, according to Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide.

The HR and staffing firm’s annual salary guide found that half of workers believe they’re earning less than they deserve – with millennials (56%) and women (54%) likeliest to feel shortchanged.

Why do the whims of disgruntled employees matter now? As the platform-shoed aliens in sci-fi flop “Battlefield Earth” would attest, the "man-animals" now have “leverage.”

With the global economy rebounding, firms have started hiring again. According to a June survey from Robert Half, approximately 43% of Canadian companies expect to add new permanent positions in the second half of 2021.

Meanwhile, companies are struggling to plug the gaps of departing talent in what the media has dubbed the “Great Resignation.” According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021, with a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs that month.

Underpaid employees willing to quit in tight labour market

Many workers had delayed switching jobs due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, leading to a year’s worth of pent-up resignations in recent months. Many also reached a breaking point for workloads, especially in fields that experienced extreme increases in demand due to the pandemic – namely, healthcare and technology.

Add to that decreased immigration levels due to the pandemic, and it’s become an especially tight labour market for industries such as healthcare and technology. Higher demand and lower supply means employers have to cough up more money for workers, at least for now.

In-demand roles require competitive pay and willingness to negotiate, according to the report, as highly sought-after talent has a broad array of suitors. As such, 35% of employers are also offering signing bonuses to entice recruits.

"Renewed business confidence is boosting hiring activity in professional industries across Canada, and the need for skilled workers is at an all-time high," said David King, Canadian senior district president of Robert Half. "Professionals are in the driver's seat when it comes to negotiating a raise or new role — and they are interested in more than just pay.”

Candidates are considering the total employment package when weighing offers. According to the report, the most coveted areas are flexible work schedules (75%) and remote work options (61%).

As for current employees, many say they are willing to quit without a boost in pay.  Almost one in five (18%) said they would consider quitting if they don’t get a raise by year-end, with Gen Z (35%) and millennials (28%) likeliest to bolt.

"While hiring is top of mind right now, keeping current employees motivated and engaged also needs to be an ongoing priority for organizations," added King. "This includes regularly benchmarking salaries and identifying factors that enhance job satisfaction, such as opportunities for advancement, flexible schedules, and programs that support employee well-being."