8 in 10 Canadian workers seeking new jobs for higher pay

New survey provide salary increase forecasts, benefits most in demand

8 in 10 Canadian workers seeking new jobs for higher pay

More than eight in 10 (81%) Canadian professionals are on the hunt for new job opportunities this year, driven by the quest for better pay, according to a recent report from Robert Walters. 

This is the case even though more than half of professional service firms plan to boost their salaries this year. The average pay increase for 2024 stands at 3.5 per cent to 4.0 per cent.

“Historically pay rises have been used as a metric to reward hard work, loyalty, or progression,” says Martin Fox, managing director of Robert Walters Canada. “However, what this survey reveals is how truly unique the market continues to be - where pay rises are now being awarded out of necessity by employers who are fearful of not appearing as a responsible or ethical employer.”

Average salary increase for 2024

That salary increase figure, however, barely edges past Canada's latest inflation rate of 3.1 per cent, according to the report.

Canadian workers are forecast to receive an average salary increase of 3.6 per cent in 2024, according to a separate study from Normandin Beaudry.

Professionals can secure a 10 per cent to 15 per cent pay increase for the same job role in a different company, according to Robert Walters. That figure even jumps to as high as 20 per cent for in-demand roles or scarce talent.

Over nine in 10 (93 per cent) employees are open to leaving their current organization for a salary increase of 10 per cent or more, according to the report.

“Our internal data and research show that professionals who switch organizations often experience a substantial salary increase. For instance, in 2023, finance & operations professionals saw an average salary rise of 18.5% when moving to new companies,” says Fox.

“Combining this data with the fact that two thirds of professionals (63 per cent) prioritize compensation over anything else - including career growth, a change in profession, or even conflicts with management - we can expect to see an imminent shift in the job market in the new year.”

That’s because prices are simply ballooning, according to Statistics Canada (StatCan). Overall, there are significant year-on-year increases in the following, notes StatCan

  • air travel (+31 per cent)
  • rent (+7.7 per cent)
  • food prices (+4.7 per cent)
  • cars (+2.3 per cent)
  • gasoline (+1.4 per cent)

In the first half of 2024, 40 per cent of organizations will hire for empty positions, while 68 per cent will bring on new contract workers to meet new business requirements, according to a previous Robert Half survey.

How to make workers stay?

Just a small fraction (nine per cent) of respondents cite their appreciation of the company as the key reasons for staying, according to Robert Walters’ survey of 4,000 white collar professionals and 2,000 employers.

That means employers must do something to keep workers on board. 

And they seem to be helping out and rewarding workers with pay increases.

The top reasons for pay rises, according to managers, are:

  • to support employees with cost of living (67 per cent)
  • to aid morale and retention (17 per cent)
  • for a promotion, time served, or targets being met (17 per cent)

However, one in three employers are “concerned” about losing primary staff who have received below inflationary pay increases, with over half expecting a dip in morale or productivity if compensation is not enough.

Boosting employee benefits

To help counter the concerns, many employers have increased investment back into workplace culture, the office interior and benefits.

On average, employers are spending around 20 per cent to 30 per cent of an employee’s total salary on benefits.

Top benefit perks include:

  • private Health Insurance
  • flexi/remote working
  • bonus scheme
  • extended holidays/sabbaticals
  • life/critical illness cover
  • medical & Mental Health Assessments
  • equity/company stocks/shares

Also, 46 per cent of professionals are willing to stay at a lower-paying job if it offers a better workplace culture, rather than switching jobs solely for better pay.

Here are some employee retention strategies that employers can use in 2024, according to Forbes Advisor contributor Chauncey Crail:

  • Let your employees work from home.
  • Provide flexible scheduling and reduced workdays.
  • Encourage and promote a work-life balance.
  • Recognize and reward your employees for their work.
  • Create a culture that employees want to be part of.
  • Build employee engagement.

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