What matters to you? That’s the question many people are asking themselves as pandemic life continues. People are rethinking how work fits into their lives and leaving their jobs as a result. In the U.S., a record 4 million people quit their jobs in April alone, according to the Labour Department.

COVID-19 has struck again but instead of leaving people jobless, workers are gaining the upper hand when it comes to wages, remote work, and job descriptions.  Some employees, particularly those who worked in low-wage jobs at restaurants, are leaving for better pay. While many others may have been waiting out the effects of the pandemic before looking for a new job. And then there are those who simply want to return to a safe work environment – with no real legislation in place for vaccinations and mask policies, the water is muddy.

It’s not surprising that employers are becoming increasingly frustrated with labour shortages and turnover. It’s taking longer to fill vacancies and the competition to attract new employees is high – qualified candidates have many options, and are receiving multiple offers.

What are the issues driving mass resignations?

A shift in the hospitality industry

By far, the industry experiencing the most turnover is the hospitality industry. It’s been frustrating for employees on many levels, from low pay, staffing issues, and instability to battles with customers who don’t want to follow the rules.

Over 800,000 Canadian food service workers lost their jobs or had their hours significantly reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many hospitality folks who went through layoffs during the first and second waves took the time to change directions into areas of customer service, data entry, etc. The lure of the 40-hour workweek beckoned, the release from burnout and abuse made the switch an easy decision.

Remote work is no longer a “perk”

COVID-19 has transformed our idea of the traditional office space. Before the pandemic struck, many companies were looking into the possibilities of remote work opportunities, but after being forced to make the transition, remote and hybrid work has become the new norm. That’s why it isn’t shocking that employees intend on looking for work elsewhere if mandated to be back in the office full-time.

According to a recent study from IWG (International Workplace Group), 80% of respondents said when faced with two similar employment offers, they would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible working.

“The war for talent is very real, and has heated up, a number of our employees in B.C. have said ‘If you ask me to come back to work full-time, or back to that normal schedule, I’ll look to go somewhere else,’ and I’ve heard that from our membership across Canada.” Excerpt from the Globe and Mail – TJ Schmaltz, the chief people, and legal officer of Prospera Credit Union and chair of the board of Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) Canada

Issues facing childcare

There are many issues facing childcare in Canada. In the study, “Insights on Canadian Society, Child care workers in Canada,” Statistics Canada says employment during the COVID-19 pandemic fluctuated more among child care workers, compared with Canadian workers overall (6% vs. 21%). Child care is among the occupations disproportionately affected by the pandemic and experts worry that the child-care workers who left the sector may not come back.

The result is a lack of childcare options and that makes it difficult for some parents to return to work. The pandemic has affected the stability of daycare centres with some going out of business entirely. Unfortunately, this has also disproportionately affected working mothers and has set women back in the workplace.

Money talks

Statistics Canada reports that as of June 2021, the economy added 230,700 jobs. Part-time positions rose 263,900, while the number of full-time jobs fell 33,200.

While there aren’t concrete statistics to show a dramatic rise in wages in Canada, there are employers willing to pay more for the right candidate. Many companies are paying sign-on bonuses and offering extra incentives like bumping up vacation time and offering work from home as an incentive for employees who need flexibility.

In the U.S. as reported by Business Insider, “The leisure and hospitality industry saw a huge quarter of growth. Wages and salaries grew by 2.8% from the first to the second quarter of 2021, the largest quarter-over-quarter increase for this industry since 2001.”

A change in mindset

For some employees, the commute is over. The migration to remote work in the pandemic has had a profound impact on how people think about when and where they want to work. Many people no longer want to make an effort to go into a physical office space, they view it as unnecessary. The pandemic has changed minds –  people can see that it’s possible to work from home effectively, spend more time with loved ones, and build a career that better accommodates your life.

“We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed, workers now crave the flexibility given to them in the pandemic — which had previously been unattainable.” Tsedal Neeley, Harvard Business School professor, author of Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere

Ready for something new?

Avanti is a great group of people doing awesome things and we’re always looking for new talent to join us. If you’re looking for flexible time off, a distributed work model, and many other life-enhancing benefits, have a look at our current openings.

Subscribe for The Avanti Advocate newsletter

The Avanti Advocate is a quarterly newsletter that features a roundup of our top payroll and HR resources and upcoming events.