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Job for Life? Not Likely

The concept of keeping a job for the better part of your life is as about as quaint and archaic these days as the one of keeping a spouse for a similarly long-termed stretch.

This generation’s labour participants — characterized in turns as either fickle and impatient or gregarious and curious — require the regular injection of stimulation-loaded novelty that comes with a new job. So rather than sign on with a company with the expectation that they’ll remain committed for a drawn-out period, it’s something of an expectation that they’ll be moving on after a reasonable stretch.


In a survey of 4,000 Canadians conducted by Workopolis in 2014, only 6% of respondents had held just one job in their career; 16% said they’d already held “more than 10.”

Another burst of Workopolis research — “Thinkopolis IV: Time to Work” — discovered that:

  • 51% of people now stay in a job for less than two years;
  • 30% of people stay in a job for more than four years.

When it explored the topic with a generational bent (analyzing seven million Canadians’ work histories from its database), it found:

  • Generation X spends over 20% longer in each job than Gen Y does.
  • People who graduated university in 1992 worked an average of 3.2 jobs in the first 12 years of their career, staying approximately 41 months (or 3.4 years) in each job.
  • People who graduated in 2002 held an average of 3.9 jobs over their first 12 years on the job market, with a shorter tenure of 32.5 months (or 2.7 years) in each job.
  • Gen Yers changed jobs 22% more often over a 12-year period than Gen Xers did.

Statistics Canada, meanwhile, reports that two-thirds of Canadian baby boomers entered their fifties employed in jobs they’d had for at least 12 years with the same employer. In fact, more than half had worked for the same organization for 20+ years.

If the current trend continues, says Workopolis, Canadians can expect to hold 15 jobs in their lifetimes.

A University of Guelph-funded study conducted in 2014 — “A Comparative Study of Work Values between Generation X and Generation Y” — found that:

  • The oldest millennials had an average of seven jobs by the time they hit 30;
  • By the time they were 30, Gen Xers had held four jobs.

Reports on this topic by Forbes and recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley declare that the average 35-year-old will change jobs eight to 10 times before she’s 42 and change careers six to eight times before she retires.

And so it goes. The notion of an individual travelling a linear progression through one job for life is a dinosaur, replaced by a workplace defined by unapologetically nomadic participants, cultivating transferable skills that they gleefully apply to a variety of posts.

Canada’s Workforce by the Numbers

A veritable phone book of numbers circulates about Canada’s economy at the best of times, but add the influx of Statistics Canada’s monthly job report, and a person risks getting swamped in the deluge.


Here’s a hit list of the latest for September:

  • The number of working Canadians: 17,978,100 (there were 17,966,000 in August).
  • The number of unemployed souls in Canada: 1,364,500 (there were 1,346,100 in August).
  • Canada’s unemployment rate: 7.1 percent (It was 7.0 percent in August).
  • Canada’s employment rate: 61.2 percent (it was 61.3 percent in August).
  • Canada’s labour force participation rate: 65.9 percent (it was also 65.9 in August).
  • The youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 13.5 percent (it was 13.1 percent in August).
  • The rate of men (aged 25 plus) who were unemployed: 6.4 percent (there were 6.3 percent in August).
  • The rate of women (aged 25 plus) who were unemployed: 5.5 percent (there were 5.4 percent in August).
  • The number of new jobs the economy added: 12,000
  • The number of part-time jobs gained: 74,000.
  • The number of full-time jobs lost: 62,000.
  • The number of jobs lost in the education services sector (the economy’s biggest loser): 51,000 (mostly in Ontario and Quebec).
  • The number of jobs gained in the information, culture and recreation sector (the economy’s biggest winner): 33,000.
  • The increase in the count of self-employed folks: 31,000.
  • The decrease in public-sector jobs: 29,000.
  • The increase in private-sector jobs: 10,000.
  • The number of jobs British Columbia added: 12,000.
  • The number of jobs Alberta added: 12,000.
  • The number of jobs Manitoba added: 4,000.
  • The number of jobs Ontario lost: 34,000.
  • The number of jobs Quebec added: 11,000.
  • The number of jobs added to the Canadian economy in the third quarter: 31,000 (as compared to 33,000 in the second quarter, and 63,000 in the first).

IT Employment Deficit: No Big Deal

If you’re an unemployed IT pro who can’t find work in this country, there’s something wrong with your picture.


New IDC research reports that there’s a whack of IT jobs that are going wanting in Canada: specifically, about 54,000 in 2014. It’s the result of a serious skill gap that has already cost Canadian organizations close to $1 billion.

This vexing scene, said IDC Canada’s research VP for services and enterprise applications in an interview coinciding with the report’s release, is thanks to a perfect storm of “not having the right personnel of the right kind at the right price to do the work.”

More specifically, the country’s education system is not generating the number of IT experts it needs to in order to meet the industry’s requirements.

Further, the research — based on interviews and surveys of Canadian businesses, and supplemented by calculating the costs of farming out work to IT manufacturers or bringing in contract employees (what IDC calls “staff augmentation”) — suggests the numbers aren’t going in the right direction, either. The skills gap, IDC predicts, will swell to 71,000 jobs by 2017.

The numbers for well-placed pros, however, are happier ones. In its recent compensation planning survey, HR firm Mercer predicted that high-tech workers will score the highest wage growth in 2016, with an anticipated upturn of three percent.

And in the meantime, survey respondents aren’t expressing extreme anxiety about this current paucity of professional technology expertise. Indeed, a majority of them told IDC that they didn’t consider an IT skills gap “a major issue,” a reality analysts chalk up to their having devised workarounds for the shortfall, including hiring from overseas, training internally and contracting out.

Research Paints Dim Personal-Economics Picture — But What’s New?

A new survey reveals a Canadian population that’s working harder and longer — but feeling less financially secure — than before.


Some highlights of the Canadian Payroll Association’s survey, conducted with 3,605 Canadians working in a variety of industries between June 29 and August 7 of this year:

  • More than one in five employees surveyed say they’ll need to work four years or more than they originally expected before retiring. They point to a lack of sufficient savings as the main reason.
  • Canadians’ anticipated retirement age is now 63; five years ago, it was 58.
  • Just 33 percent of respondents say they expect the Canadian economy to improve next year (this is down from a three-year average of 41 percent).
  • Forty-eight percent say it would be “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to meet their financial obligations if a paycheque was delayed by a single week.
  • Fewer than a quarter of respondents believe they could come up with $2,000 to cover an emergency.
  • About 16 percent of respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” that they’re currently overwhelmed with debt. Nineteen percent have credit-card debt; 16 percent have line-of-credit debt.
  • Twelve percent of survey participants say they doubt they’ll ever be debt-free.
  • About 47 percent of respondents currently save about five percent of their net pay.
  • Just 40 percent of respondents are covered by an employer pension.
  • More than half estimate they will have to save more than $1 million to retire.
  • Three-quarters of respondents have saved a quarter or less of their retirement nest-egg goal; among respondents aged 50 or older, about 48 percent are less than a quarter of the way to their retirement goal.

Truth to tell, the grim timbre of this survey is not so unique in the blitz of similarly grim-timbred surveys of recent times. As such, Canadians should receive this latest salvo telling them that they overspend and are cued up for a tight and uncomfortable future in the most palatable spirit they can.

Accommodating Trans Employees in the Workplace

Caitlyn Jenner’s reach is long.

The buzz this newly transformed celeb has stirred about the transgender community warrants fresh attention from organizations big and small.

As of March 2015, seven Canadian provinces and territories explicitly specified protecting “gender identity” or “gender identity and gender expression” in their legislated human rights protections. Five provinces and territories are not explicit about these rights but have documents explaining how such protection is interpreted under other grounds such as “sex.”


And while, as of June 2015, national human rights legislation in Canada doesn’t explicitly protect “gender identity” and “gender expression,” such protections are interpreted under other grounds.

Here’s a snapshot:

Province Legislation
Alberta While the Alberta Human Rights Act doesn’t single out “gender identity” or “gender expression,” the Alberta Human Rights Complaint Form and Guide says that the protected grounds of discrimination regarding gender “includes the state of being female, male, transgender or two-spirited.” Further, Alberta Bill of Rights amendments that came into force on June 1, 2015, read, “It is hereby recognized and declared that in Alberta there exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or gender expression, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms…”
British Columbia While BC’s Human Rights Code doesn’t explicitly list “gender identity” under its prohibited grounds, the province’s Human Rights Commission notes that trans people are protected under the grounds of “sex.”
Saskatchewan The Human Rights Code of Saskatchewan explicitly includes “gender identity” within its prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Manitoba The Human Rights Code of Manitoba explicitly lists “gender identity” within its prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Ontario The Human Rights Code of Ontario explicitly lists “gender identity” and “gender expression” in its enumerated grounds of discrimination references.
Quebec Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms doesn’t excplicitly make mention of “gender identity” in its prohibited grounds of discrimination, but it does protect trans people’s from harassment and discrimination under the grounds of “sex.”
New Brunswick While the Human Rights Act of New Brunswick doesn’t explicitly mention “gender identity” under its prohibited grounds of discrimination, the province’s Human Rights Commission protects trans people under the grounds of “sex.”
Nova Scotia The Human Rights Act of Nova Scotia explicitly enumerates “gender identity” and “gender expression” inside its protections.
Prince Edward Island The Human Rights Act of Prince Edward Island explicitly lists “gender identity” and “gender expression” in its enumerated grounds of discrimination references.
Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador explicitly include “gender identity” and “gender expression” in its Human Rights Act.
Yukon Territory The Human Rights Act of Yukon Territory doesn’t explicitly list “gender identity” in its prohibited grounds of discrimination, but the territory’s Human Rights Commission protects trans people under the grounds of “gender.”
Northwest Territories The Human Rights Act of Northwest Territories explicitly includes “gender identity” in its protection notes.
Nunavut Territory The Human Rights Act of Nunavut Territory does not explicitly list “gender identity” under its prohibited grounds of discrimination, but according to the Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal, trans people are protected under the grounds of “sex.”


Some suggestions for Canadian employers with transgender or transitioning employees:

Gender-based self-identification

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal made it clear in 2012 that it is discriminatory for an employer to insist that an employee be treated in accordance with the gender assigned at birth for employment purposes, because such behaviour fails to treat that person in accordance with his/her “lived and felt” gender identity. Other provinces are following suit.

Personal pronouns

Employers should support a new transgendered employee or a currently transitioning employee by using the employee’s preferred pronouns and names and, where possible, updating corporate records to reflect the same.

Dress codes

Employees should be allowed to dress according to their expressed gender, and employers’ dress-code policies should accommodate transgender or gender non-conforming individuals (e.g., staffers shouldn’t have to wear clothing stereotypical of their birth gender, such as ties for men or dresses for women).

Confidential record-keeping

An organization should have a valid reason for collecting and using personal information that identifies a person’s gender, and it should keep this information confidential.

Public bathrooms

Trans people should have access to bathrooms, change rooms and other gender-specific services and facilities based on their “lived” gender identities.

It behoves employers to learn about how to accommodate the needs of trans people and, if required, to develop or change policies, and undertake training, around them. Only by doing so can the country’s professional operations ensure that gender non-conforming individuals in their employ are treated with dignity and respect, enjoy equal rights and are protected against discrimination.

Paying Higher Wages May Score Companies More Productivity: Study

The relationship between the rate of pay a job commands and the value of that job to an organization has long been the subject of study, debate and tortured contemplation. Ideally, a company hits the sweet spot between paying enough to confer the appropriate appreciation on a position; not so little that it discourages the worker from putting in meaningful effort, but not so much that it takes on the stench of an overinflated fat-cat post whose value could never align with the paycheque.

Tricky business, this.

But a new study from the US Department of Commerce confirms a home truth: there’s an undeniable link between pay rates and productivity.

The study, drawing from a special tabulation of data from a 2011 survey of manufacturers, finds that payrolls per employee rise in direct relation to value added per employee.

The study’s authors suggest three reasons for this reality:

  • the extension of higher wages tends to attract workers with more and better skills;
  • those companies with richer rates are better able to keep employees;
  • higher-paying firms adopt practices to increase the return from these skilled and motivated workers.

In statistical terms, says the research, the variables of payroll and value-add have a correlation coefficient of nearly 0.7, stronger for establishments in the bottom quartile (greater than 0.75) than in the top (about 0.55), indicating a closer link between productivity and wages among lower-paying than higher-paying establishments.

That different establishments in the same industry pay very different wages (workers in the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry, for example, earn an average of $34 per hour [as of May 2015], while those in apparel manufacturing earn just $17 per hour), says the study’s accompanying analysis, suggests more than one “production recipe” is viable.

In the so-called “high-road” recipe, firms harness the knowledge of all their workers to create innovative products and processes — and the higher wages are offset by workers’ higher productivity.

Easy peasy then. Bring on the raises.

How to Be the Office Cool Cat

We’re going to lighten it up a little this week (mostly because it’s too hot to lift anything heavy), and offer some practical advice for not getting overheated in a humid office. So kick back, strip down (ever mindful of the office dress codes!) and grab yourself a cold one (again, observing public protocols) and consider these tips for keeping your cool at work:

coolcatChill out your beverage. Change the temperature of your usual caffeine boost by switching out a hot cup of joe for an iced coffee. And keep the thing cold with a mini USB fridge that plugs right into your laptop.

Blow yourself. Set yourself up with an office-sized desk fan (ideally a discreet, quiet-running one), and make it more effective by blasting it across a bowl of ice water. Or create your own personal wind tunnel by placing your fans on the ledges of opposing open windows.

Be topical. Score yourself the instant relief that comes with some of the unique new cooling methods currently blowing through the offices of Japan. Users can apply foam sprays and gels to the backs of their necks and around their wrists or swipe a new-fangled “icy sheet” across their sweaty skin.

Get cool clothes. Jockey’s got a line of unmentionables — StayCool — that it claims can regulate your skin temperature by up to three degrees. The undershirts and underwear come in both men’s and women’s lines. And consider dressing up the exterior with a cooling necktie, a nifty new fashion statement that plugs into your USB port and shoots cool air into your mug with a simple tug.

Eat light. Foods loaded with calories pump up your body’s metabolism and increase your core temperature, so bring on the lettuce. Similarly, steer clear of caffeinated beverages that act as a diuretic — the resulting dehydration will heat you up.

Summer’s pleasures outweigh its pains by a good distance, but there’s no denying the forethought required to negotiate the sweatier parts of the season. Having a cool-down plan is key.

Wanna Know the Best Hiring Plan? Google it

It’s the wild west out there these days in HiringLand. A surfeit of talent, a paucity of broad-based professional need, an increasing call for extremely specialized skillsets. And on.

As such, it behoves us all to stay alive to those hiring scenarios that work, however unconventional or apparently unique from our own situations they might be.


Enter Google, and its unique methodology for ensuring its employment rosters are packed with creative, dedicated and entirely appropriate staffers.

Herewith, four Google hiring secrets to get you started:

The culture piece

Chris Hodgson, sector lead for multi-channel solutions with Google Canada, chalks his organization’s hiring wins up to its culture. “Smart creatives don’t care about money; they care about making a difference…. We created passion that people wanted to be a part of and slogans that embodied that culture, like comfortably uncomfortable.”

The hiring players

At Google, the hiring manager is only one of four decisionmakers in a committee vetting potential hires. Any member of the group can veto a pick — even if the manager wants them.

The structured interview

According to the results of a meta-analysis of 85 years of research on job assessments’ ability to predict performance published in 1998, unstructured job interviews are pretty bad at forecasting how someone would perform once hired.

The best predictor? A work sample test that replicates an on-the-job assignment. Next best are tests of general cognitive ability with defined right and wrong answers, and behavioural and situational structured interviews, where candidates are asked a consistent set of questions with clear criteria to assess the quality of their responses.

At Google, though, hiring teams swear by a system that employs combinations of assessment techniques.

The power of the cross-functional interviewer

Google invites someone with little or no connection to the group for which the candidate is interviewing to sit in on the hiring process. In this way, the company enjoys exposure to an impartial assessment from someone who probably has scant interest in a particular job being filled, but is keen to keep the organization’s overall quality of hiring high.

LinkedIn Weighs in on Global Recruiting Trends

With a nod to the coincident increase of hiring volume and decrease in hiring budgets, LinkedIn’s just-published 2015 Global Recruiting Trends report concludes that pretty much every organization is challenged in the area of recruitment.


Among the highlights of the study — LinkedIn’s fourth annual — find:

Priorities: Sourcing highly skilled talent (46 percent) and improving quality of hire (34 percent) are the top priorities among today’s recruiters. Rounding out the top four: improving sourcing techniques (25 percent) and pipelining talent (23 percent).

Sourcing: The top sources of quality hires have shifted in the past four years, with social professional networks seeing the greatest gains — 22 percent in 2011, 34 percent in 2014. The most prevalent talent-sourcing category is Internet job boards, at about 42 percent.

Talent Brand: Social networks are also emerging as the preferred channels for promoting talent branding, says the study. Online professional networks saw the biggest boost in this category, jumping from 48 percent in 2011 to 61 percent in 2014. Fifty-six percent of global talent leaders say talent brand is their company’s top priority, and 75 percent believe it has a significant impact on their ability to hire great talent.

Data and Metrics: In answer to the question, “What is the single most valuable metric that you use to track your recruiting team’s performance today?” most respondents — 44 percent — picked quality of hire (time to fill clocked in at 25 percent and hiring manager satisfaction at 18 percent).

Obstacles: Asked what their company’s biggest obstacles to attracting the best talent are, respondents assigned almost equal weight to competition and compensation.

Ultimately, the LinkedIn research concludes, companies need to play to their own competitive advantages when seeking to fill their employment rolls. And to make use of whatever technological advancements are available to help wherever they can.

“As the gap widens between hiring volume and budgets in 2015,” 2015 Global Recruiting Trends sums up, “recruiting leaders must do more with less and invest wisely.”

Norma Rae Redux

Unions have long been a cornerstone of the Canadian workforce. Their members have been linked to a strong middle class, a generally prosperous and stable economy, increased job security, tax support enough to sustain robust public services and healthy families.

But numbers just released by Stats Canada suggest the picture is changing, hand in hand with a workforce whose makeup has been undergoing a significant evolution of its own.

Canada’s unionization rate has fallen from 37.6 percent in 1981 — the year it was first tracked —to 28.8 percent in 2014.

And the characterization of its individual members is on the move, too.


Today a union member is slightly more likely to be a female than a male, and to be employed in an office, school or hospital. That’s a stark departure from the more traditional profile of a union member, who was a factory worker, miner or member of another blue-collar trade.

Between 1981 and 2014, the union density for male workers declined from 41 percent to 27 percent. But it remained relatively stable for female union members over the same period, varying between 30 percent and 32 percent.

Another significant change is the drop in the number of unionized young workers, particularly males. This, says the analysis accompanying Stats Can’s release, is most likely a function of the employment shift away from those industries and occupations with high union density (such as construction and manufacturing) and toward those with lower rates (think retail and professional services).

In Canada’s private sector, unionization rates — 15.2 percent in 2014 — have been on the freefall for more than three decades. They are much higher — 71.3 percent in 2014 — in the country’s working public sector.

There are well over a hundred unions in Canada, and they fall into four categories: international, national, independent local and directly charted. On average, a union in Canada represented about 6,000 workers in 2014.

This trend of shrinking union membership is likely to continue, says the report, and the image of a “typical” Canadian union member will continue to be the subject of reinvention.