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When money isn't enough to keep workers happy

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Whether money can buy you happiness is debatable, but apparently, it’s not enough to keep Canadian employees happy. 

Up until the last couple of months, a strong job market brought the unemployment rate to record lows. That means companies are having to pay up to retain talent, and applicants can be more selective.

According to a new survey by Hays Canada, 66 per cent of employers are ready to spend beyond their budgets to attract new hires, and 34 per cent plan to boost salaries for existing staff in the year ahead.

Quebec employers say they’ll open up their wallets the most. Over half plan to increase salaries by more than two per cent. B.C. has the most employers (86 per cent) suffering from a skills shortage.

But overall, only 40 per cent of Canadian companies plan to increase permanent staffing. That’s a 12 per cent drop from last year. It appears that employers want to do more with fewer employees, which could worsen workplace stress, morale, and efficiency.

This is happening as 58 per cent of employees said they are seriously considering leaving their jobs over pay dissatisfaction, lack of career advancement, and weak company culture.  

“It’s great to see companies tackling compensation issues but our data shows that workplace dissatisfaction is growing alongside employers’ plans to slow the pace of hiring in 2020,” said Rowan O’Grady, Hays Canada’s president, in a release. 

“More pay is always a good thing but it won’t solve issues around staff morale or career development. Larger paycheques are typically eclipsed by heightened stress and staff burnout. Balancing pay with adequate staffing is a crucial consideration.”

Competing with giants

Some companies, like Ottawa-based healthcare software firm Macadamian, want to increase headcount.

“The Hays Salary Guide has shown companies are nervous about adding structural cost to their organization, we are no different,” Dinesh Kandanchatha, Macadamian’s COO, told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“That said, we have seen the stress that overwork causes our people and have tried to address this by empowering our team members to get their work done in the way that causes the least stress for them.”

Part of the problem is that his company is up against much bigger tech rivals.

“In Ottawa, we compete against companies like Shopify who are able to offer salary and employment perks that smaller owner-operated companies simply can't match,” said Kandanchatha.

The Hays survey found employers want more flexible scheduling and training to improve their skills.

Along with flexible work arrangements and fitness incentives, Kandanchatha says Macadamian tries to bring out a sense of pride in its employees’ work to keep them happy.

“This means that we as a healthcare software services provider seek to make health a priority in everything we do with our customers, our employees and our community.”

“This simple statement allows us to attract individuals who value holistic health: mind, body, and spirit, and recognize that there are real productivity gains when you put healthy meaningful work first as opposed to only compensation.”

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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