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News Future of Work Working Remotely
Canadians plan to demand raises, greater work-life balance post-pandemic

June 22, 2021
By Talent Canada staff

Three-in-five Canadians aged 18 to 34 (59 per cent) are planning to make big proactive changes at work post-pandemic, and employers should take note.

A new cross-Canada Athabasca University study has found respondents plan to ask for promotions and raises, and advocate more for themselves at work by being proactive about training and learning on the job.

Sixty-eight per cent also say they want a better balance between work and life, and if something isn’t working for them on the job, they plan to change it.

From May 5 to 6 Athabasca University conducted a survey focused on Canadians’ attitudes and expectations for work and life in a post-pandemic era, especially as they pertain to changes in higher education. It was conducted, in English and French, among a nationally representative sample of 1,531 Canadian adults who are members of the online Angus Reid Forum, balanced and weighted on age, gender, region and education.


“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted almost every area of life and there’s a culture-shift brewing across the country — Canadians are ready for change, and they just won’t settle for `good enough’ at work anymore,” said Dr. Andrew Perrin, Associate Vice President, Research, Athabasca University.

“After having to pause parts of life for so long, many want to focus on the things that bring them happiness, and they’re ready to seize those opportunities.”

This poll, entitled “Flying the Pandemic Coop,” administered through the Angus Reid Forum Panel, was designed to explore Canadians’ attitudes and expectations of post-pandemic work and life.

It found that workplace expectations are changing significantly.

Work 4.0: The future of work is hybrid, personalized

Nearly three-quarters of respondents in this study (73 per cent) said they want employers to invest more in re-skilling workers and offering digital training, especially given the pandemic’s shift to virtual work.

A similar number (72 per cent) say the pandemic has taught them they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their continuous learning in work or life.

Interestingly, 74 per cent of Canadians said they have ongoing learning or continuing education goals, yet only 19 per cent of them are very happy with the status of those goals.

Canadians’ learning goals are also changing as a result of the pandemic:

  • Sixty-one per cent of Canadians aged 18-54 identified “micro-credentials” — stackable career-advancing power courses — as something they’d want to pursue post-pandemic.
  • More than half of all Canadians (54 per cent) also indicated they want to better educate themselves on diversity and social justice issues, given this past year’s spotlight on bias and inequity.
  • Thirty-one per cent said if they had to focus on one area of training to improve their skills for work, it would be building emotional resilience to support their mental health. Building digital skills to become more tech-savvy was a close second, at 27 per cent.

Returning to work: What workers want

Canadians are also looking to celebrate the end of pandemic restrictions with vacations; three-in-five (61 per cent) say they’ll take a vacation somewhere in Canada or the US as soon as they are able. However, they are also thinking about the financial long-term. Eighty per cent of respondents say they will continue saving for a rainy day after the pandemic is over.

For a large majority of Canadians, the pandemic has prompted a re-assessing of their lives and work.

Three-quarters (76 per cent) say they want to re-prioritize various aspects of their lives, such as quality family time, travel, and passion projects. Another 74 per cent say it’s time for them to invest in themselves.

Many Canadians also believe the way we learn is changing. Specifically, 71 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 54 say that technological advancements have changed the way people learn, for example, the rise of gamification in higher education.

“As Canada’s only online and open research university, Athabasca University faculty are redefining the future of learning by challenging traditional teaching methods and by embracing emerging technologies that are changing education,” said Perrin.

“Our experts are pursuing transformative research themes that are aligned with what Canadians foresee: the development and mastery of remote learning that is digital-by-design.”

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