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Pandemic accelerates the ‘great attrition’ for certain Canadian industries: report


Organizations reported an average of 6.2 days of absence per employee for 2020, an increase from the prior year. (Adobe Stock)

As employers navigate the uncertainty around new COVID variants, vaccination rates and government mandates, employees are stressed trying to balance their work and personal lives, ongoing schooling disruptions as well as the blurring of personal and professional boundaries, shows a new report released Jan. 14 by The Conference Board of Canada.

“As we continue to deal with the pandemic, it’s important to recognize the significant mental health impacts it has had on employees,” said Lauren Florko, Senior Research Associate, Human Capital at The Conference Board of Canada.

“These challenges are leading employees to reevaluate their jobs and resulting in increased absenteeism and higher turnover, which has the potential to lead to the great attrition.”

Key findings of the research include:

  • Employee absenteeism is significantly higher in larger organizations, and rates have increased since the beginning of COVID.
  • Organizations reported an average of 6.2 days of absence per employee for 2020, an increase from the prior year.
  • Employees are re-evaluating their work roles, which has led to organizations focusing on retention through increasing salaries, better employment brands and employee value propositions, a holistic approach to health benefits, and increased CSR.
  • Turnover is a risk for health care and knowledge-based industries and for those at a professional employee level for all industries
  • Retirement was lower than expected across most industries, which puts the percentage of those eligible to retire in the next five years at alarming numbers for many organizations.
  • Retirement rates are projected to be high in the upcoming years across all organization types. Organizations should have strong succession plans in place and/or incentivize high performers who are eligible to retire to stay in the workforce.

Efforts should be made to retain productive employees, build strong succession plans, and use technology to allow employees to work off-site or automate roles to mitigate the risk.

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