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‘The Big Stay’: Companies struggle to attract talent as workers choose job security over new roles

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June 19, 2024
By Talent Canada


Over three quarters of Canadian professionals (77 per cent) have admitted that fears around job security is preventing them from moving jobs. Two-thirds (64 per cent) have stated that job security is a concern when considering a new role, while 13 per cent admit that fears around new job security has stopped them from applying for a new role in its entirety.

The findings come from a recent poll from global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters – which unveils the unprecedented number of professionals who are choosing to remain with their current employer, a phenomenon the recruitment firm calls ‘The Big Stay.’

“It was just three years ago where we saw evidence of The Great Resignation – where professionals were taking new job opportunities at a record high, which was also matched with high new starter salaries,” said Martin Fox, managing director of Robert Walters Canada. “The emergence of The Big Stay’ is testament to the volatility of the economy – which has had a severe dent on business and employee confidence.

“On the one side, we are seeing a month-on-month decline in the number of new permanent job roles – underpinned by risk-averse organizations trying to be cost-conscious. And on the other side – employees are choosing to stay put, and in the process, sacrificing better pay, progression, and skills development that they could gain elsewhere, in the belief that they may be more ‘secure’.”

Fox also noted organizations need fresh perspectives to remain competitive, and employees need movement to avoid stagnating or being pigeonholed.

“A prolonged trend of ‘The Big Stay’ will be counterproductive for Canada’s economy,” he added.

Shift in priorities

An overwhelming 80 per cent of Canadians state they would now prioritize job security over pay – with about one-quarter (27 per cent) admitting this was not something that “crossed their mind” before, but does now.

In fact, 74 per cent of Canadian employers stated prospective employees now bring up the topic of “job security” during the hiring process, with 53 per cent stating this has been a more recent occurrence in 2024.

When asked further about renewed priorities, two-thirds of professionals (65 per cent) report the state of the economy plays a “significant role” in their decision on whether to move roles—with inflation (40 per cent), unemployment rates (21 per cent), and GDP growth (four per cent) being primary considerations.

Companies struggle to attract

Eight in 10 hiring managers (82 per cent) stated they’ve noticed an increase in prospective employees declining job offers in 2024, with the majority (52 per cent) stating that this is down to salary or culture fit, followed by concerns around job security (16 per cent) or company stability (14 per cent).

As a result, 67 per cent of companies have stated that they have made changes to their recruitment strategies in order to address concerns prospective employees may have over job security – these include; sharing growth plans (52 per cent), and being upfront about company performance (11 per cent).

Just four per cent of employers report they’re more open about industry challenges; many companies worry this may deter professionals from joining them.

When it comes to the financial health and long-term company plans, organizations are increasingly taking a more transparent approach. One-third claim they are now very transparent (34 per cent), followed by somewhat transparent (24 per cent) and slightly transparent (15 per cent).

About one-quarter (27 per cent) state  they are not at all transparent about financial health of the company during the recruitment process.

“It’s a tricky one for employers to know whether some details about an organization may deter professionals from accepting a job offer,” Martin said. “However, from my experience, when a company is fully transparent about their financial position or industry barriers, this only helps to ensure that the ‘right fit’ accepts the job and is frankly ‘up for the challenge’.”


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