How willing are you to forgo cash in favour of job security or an agreeable work/life balance?
The results from Randstad's latest Global Workmonitor, surveying employees in 32 countries around the world, finds that while most Canadians work to live, an estimated 40 per cent of us are prepared to give up part of our salary if it means more job security. Overall, 43 per cent of global respondents agree, and the U.S. ranks similarly at 44 per cent.
"A lot of individuals haven't had a massive salary increase in quite a while. There's been some statistics released that state 2007-2008 is where we're seeing the average salary sit across Canada," says Stacy Parker, executive vice-president of marketing at Randstad Canada in Toronto.
Most Canadians (82 per cent) work to live, rather than live to work, on par with the global average. "These findings are consistent with our Randstad Employer Branding study of more than 7,000 Canadians last February/March," Parker says. "When I talk to executives, what I hear increasingly is the whole work/life balance issue really is not existent today."
It's hard to imagine job security in the modern age existing. If a healthy work/life balance is also becoming extinct, where are we heading?
"Canadians seem to be attracted to organizations that do have a greater reputation for job security, for instance, public sector employers are becoming more attractive," she says. "There's also a perception that an employer with a workers' union attached to it is becoming a more attractive option. And it's not just in Canada. Globally, job security is the most important thing to workers.
Work/life balance still important?
"In terms of work/life balance, what we're seeing with Gen-X and Gen-Y workers is they're not willing to compromise on their personal lives for their careers. They've grown up with technology and they understand that should enable them to have more freedom."
Compensation continues to be very important to Canadians workers, but it's definitely not the only thing that matters, remarks Ofelia Isabel, director, talent & reward, Towers Watson in Toronto.
"Our recent research confirms that there are things that are equally or more important, including career development opportunities, trust and confidence in senior leadership and even better retirement plans," she says. "We find that increasingly, Canadians value job security and want their work to have meaning."
Concerning work/life balance, research and data continues to show that Canadians are working longer hours so balance continues to be an issue and employers don't have this figured out yet, Isabel continues.
"Most midsized to large organizations have good programs in place to try to support work/life balance but too often these programs are not well communicated and too often supervisors and immediate managers aren't as supportive of these programs as they could be," she says. "There's more we could do to better operationalize the existing work/life balance programs in place at our organizations with communication and manager training being key."
But equally importantly is the need to stop thinking so much about work/life balance and perhaps focus more on work/life flexibility, Isabel adds. In other words, allowing employees to work when and how they want can go a long way to making employees feel that they do indeed have balance.
Compensation not the bottom line
Meanwhile, the Randstad survey findings also indicate that 66 per cent of Canadians do not consider a good salary to be more important than enjoying their work. Globally, more than half of respondents (58 per cent) also say they consider enjoyable work to be more important than a good salary.
"How are (employers) messaging and measuring how great their work environment is? That's what will cause people to leave and go elsewhere," Parker says. "Employers that invest heavily in a great work environment have more productive employees, faster growth, and higher profitability."
Randstad's survey also asks to what extent employees are willing to compromise correlates with the financial performance of their employer. Overall, 42 per cent of all respondents in the survey indicate the financial performance of their employer is under pressure. Countries above average include Hungary, Greece, Czech Republic and Spain (61-67 per cent). Canada sits on the lower end of the spectrum, as only 36 per cent of Canadian employees believe that the financial performance of their employer is currently under pressure.
"That's probably a naïve perspective but that 36 per cent have likely seen reports of their organization's financial performance and have already undergone mass layoffs," she adds. "Otherwise, for the most part, employees are not fully aware of what financial pressures organizations are going through."