Employers predict increased business activity without adding to full-time headcount

But spikes in stress leaves, declines in morale: Survey

Most Canadian employers expect to grow their business in 2015 but intend to do so without boosting headcount, according to the annual Hays Canada Salary Guide.

While optimism and the progress outlook among employers has never been higher, these sentiments are not shared by staff for whom sinking morale, burnout and stress-related absences have spiked.

Seventy per cent anticipate increasing business activity in the coming months but only 38 per cent of employers intend to add headcount during the same period.

Skills shortage

One-third also admitted that a lack of professional development programs contributes to a shortage of talent. The inability to find qualified help puts pressure on existing teams — 31 per cent reported spikes in employee stress leaves and 34 per cent said staff morale has declined.

“Looking at the results this year, we have to ask ourselves whether employers are asking too much from their people in a quest to improve productivity and profitability,” said Rowan O’Grady, president of Hays Canada. “Adding to this concern is the fact that nearly 40 per cent of employers believe that the absence of training and professional development is the reason for the skills shortage in their industry… Employers should be investing in skills development, recruitment and succession planning to keep pace with their ambitions.”

Employers acknowledged that many of the factors that impact the talent issue are within their control, found Hays. Thirty-five per cent said they have a responsibility to boost numbers of qualified graduates by promoting themselves and their industries at the post-secondary level.

Equally important is succession planning. Few employers (12 per cent) said they are preparing for the future with active succession and knowledge transfer plans. With respect to salaries as a talent enticement, one-half said they’re unsure if what they offer applicants is on par with the market average.

Positive signs

Despite unpredictable markets worldwide, just under one-third (32 per cent) of employers plan to increase salaries by up to six per cent in 2015 and one-half (49 per cent) believe the country’s economy will continue to strengthen throughout the next six to 12 months. This level of optimism is at its highest point in five years and signifies a 15-point jump from its lowest levels in 2011.

“It appears Canadian employers are poised to capitalize on their positive outlook although I sincerely hope a focus on short-term gain doesn’t distract them from resolving the looming challenges ahead,” said O’Grady.

Additional highlights

•Over 50 per cent of employers believe their company’s reputation and low profile are barriers to recruitment.

•70 per cent say recruiting for senior roles is the most difficult and can take anywhere from two to six months to fill.

•82 per cent of employers said they made the wrong hire likely due to desperation and a lack of time.

Work-from-home options, flexible hours and extended benefits are the top three incentives employers want to add in an effort to attract talent

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