Where pandemic challenges have hit the workforce

A study from the Conference Board of Canada shows 65% of firms have recently enacted new talent policies.

As it continues to investigate the effects that COVID-19 has on Canadian employers and workers, The Conference Board of Canada recently looked at how the pandemic has impacted the country’s workforce, finding that while there have not been significant layoffs, two-thirds of companies have responded in other ways.

According to the survey, conducted between July 20 and 28, only one-third of companies (35%) have not implemented any talent strategies or policies, such as mandatory leaves of absence or increased hours of work, as a result of pandemic-related business changes.

Among the two-thirds (65%) of organizations that have put strategies in place, hiring freezes were the most common policy, at 42%.

“This aligns with what we are hearing from employers,” notes the Conference Board. “Many have indicated that a top concern right now is returning to prior business levels and financial stability.”

Other popular strategies to stabilize business was voluntary leaves of absence (28%) and temporary workforce reductions (27%). Fewer than 20% of organizations reported decreasing work hours (17%), putting a freeze on promotions (13%) or making permanent workforce reductions (10%).

For the most part, the Conference Board found organizations are not experiencing many difficulties retaining existing talent.

In fact, voluntary and involuntary turnover has remained relatively stable since the onset of the pandemic in March. For example, 45% of organizations said voluntary turnover (defined as an employee-initiated departure) has remained the same; only 11% said it has increased. Meanwhile, the rate of involuntary turnover – employer-initiated departures including severances, dismissals and redundancies, but excluding temporary layoffs – has stayed the same for 55% of firms and increased for 17% of them.

The rate of retirement has remained mostly consistent, with 75% of respondents reporting no change since the pandemic began.

As a result, 55% of respondents said they are not having difficulty attracting, recruiting or retaining talent, a result the industry group says “is not surprising, given the amount of hiring freezes and workforce reductions in place across the country.”

Of those who are having difficulties, 24% are finding it hard to attract new talent, while only 2% are having challenges retaining existing staff.