The Great Resignation Continues dreamstime l 244444925 Pivotal HR Solutions Blog

The “Great Resignation” a.k.a “Turnover Tsunami” continues… on both sides of the border

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many workers in Canada resign from their jobs. This trend is often referred to as “The Great Resignation.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the term was first coined in the United States after 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in the year span between November 2020 and November 2021. In the month of February 2022 alone, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs.

Canada only a “mini tsunami”?

The phenomenon in Canada is not on par with what’s going on down south, as two-thirds of Canadian workers who were unemployed during the pandemic have returned to the workforce. Still, the situation is precarious.

Life Work’s Mental Health Index reported in November 2021that one in four Canadians have been dissatisfied with their professional life since the pandemic began. The edition also indicated that 35% of them considered leaving their jobs.

Unsafe working conditions the main reason for the Great Resignation

The reasons behind this mass spree of radical decision-making are still being examined, but many common reasons show up in preliminary research. Many workers quit their jobs because of the obvious unsafe working conditions.

Those working in customer service, or “Front Line Workers,” had to deal with rowdy clients, new sanitation tasks, and the impending feeling of being exposed to a then-unknown virus. Coupled with low pay being overshadowed by government aid, these workers decided the risks outweigh the rewards.


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A preference for remote work — due to perceived safety concerns — is driving part of the “Great Resignation”


Remote work is more attractive to many

Remote work also impacted the Canadian workforce, and mass layoffs can account for a third of Canadian workers not returning to the job. Finally, a feeling of solidarity fuels the Great Resignation, albeit the sense is more substantial in the USA.

A tight job market is inflationary

According to CIBC Economist Avery Shenfeld in his interview with Bloomberg, he job market in the United States is tighter and more inflationary. Wages are growing faster in the States than in Canada, giving American workers more incentive to quit their jobs.

In addition, Shenfeld points out that the social safety net is less generous in the United States, meaning that when workers lose their jobs, they have a more challenging time getting back on their feet. Contrast this with Canada, where the government offers more generous unemployment benefits and social assistance.

Both countries’ radically different approach explains the difference in intensity of both Resignation waves.


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With mandates easing in many areas, some employers are calling teams back to their workplace. In a recent survey, many employees indicated they would resign or look for another employer rather than return to the workplace.


The Great Resignation is happening in Canada and the United States

“I think it (the Great Resignation) is happening in both settings — in the United States and globally — but I think it is much more gradual in Canada because of how the two countries have responded,” says Paul Mkandawire, a Carleton University Human Rights and Social Justice Professor.

He adds that there seems to be a shift in the public’s perception of what a “hero represents.” Initially reserved for politicians, billionaires, and celebrities, the title is now attributed to at-risk workers caring for sick patients or bagging groceries when nobody else wanted to.

When it became clear that the “heroes'” working conditions weren’t relative to the praise they were receiving from the government and companies, the feeling of unrest began.

As the Great Resignation continues at a slow pace in Canada and unionization rates are climbing, the need for companies to have a robust HR solution becomes apparent.

Do you need help with your own “Turnover Tsunami” or with any HR Management issue? Contact the experts at Pivotal Solutions.

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