Is “The Great Resignation” happening in Niagara?

Home BlogIs “The Great Resignation” happening in Niagara?

The Great Resignation, which is also being called The Great Re-Shuffle and The Great Re-Assessment, describes the phenomenon that is millions of Americans quitting their jobs each month (and not necessarily resuming other jobs). It’s the highest rate of work resignations on record and has been a regular topic of conversation for us lately. While we, here in Canada, don’t have the same survey tool to measure labour turnover, recent research by the Bank of Canada shows that 80% of employers expect to have difficulties meeting demand for their services due to labour supply difficulties and/or supply chain challenges.  
In a 2022 global Microsoft Work Index study, which surveyed Canadians, 52% of Gen Zs and Millennials said they’d think about leaving or switching their jobs in the next twelve months, especially if their current position prevented them from enjoying their life. More Baby Boomers (and other workers who delayed retirement in 2020) are also expected to exit our workforce this year and Niagara’s population is indeed increasing in average age.

The reasons why people are quitting are as diverse as the values and needs of the workers themselves. The essence of all, though, may be that the events of 2020 to now have led to a collective shift in priorities. What we’re learning is that employees are:  

  • prioritizing mental, social and physical health over money and “the grind” (which may have been the pre-pandemic status quo); 
  • reclaiming their energy, time, family, autonomy, passions and purpose (choosing work-life balance and integration);
  • presented with an increasing number of options, particularly as the wide adoption of remote work is leading to geographic boundaries becoming less important; 
  • seeking more inclusive workplace practices that foster safety and belonging (as diversity-embracing and anti-discrimination movements are on the rise); 
  • not always resigning by choice— certain sectors were impacted in large ways by the pandemic (e.g., accommodations and food services, retail, health care and social assistance) where employees faced challenges such as temporary layoffs, permanent layoffs, and/or a large increase in the demands of their jobs resulting in high levels of burn out

This Great Resignation is exacerbating labour shortages across Canada. Right now, there are more job vacancies than unemployed people. We are in a “job seekers’ market” which often enables workers to negotiate better pay and conditions.  
This may be good news, especially for women and other segments within our workforce who were disproportionately represented in the mass exodus from employment that the pandemic prompted. In some cases, the gender pay gap is lessening as women secure better deals within hiring and retention. According to Statistics Canada, the average hourly gender wage ratio has changed slightly between 2015 and 2021. In 2015 we saw that across Ontario, women made $0.87 for every $1 men made whereas in 2021 women made $0.89 for every $1 men made. In Niagara, women’s participation rate is also higher now than pre-pandemic (59.9% in April 2022 compared to 52.7% in April 2019). As of April 2022, there are more women employed and more women seeking employment in our local workforce.

As employers are struggling to hire and retain talent right now, we recommend that they understand and meet the needs of key workforce segments, like women. For more on this and related insights, check out our ‘How to attract, engage & retain talent’ post.
Special thanks to 610 CKTB for inviting us to the “Broad Perspectives” radio show to discuss how women are leading The Great Resignation and to the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce podcast to talk about what it will take for businesses to survive Niagara’s post-pandemic labour shortages. 

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