Is the ‘Great Resignation’ Real in Canada?

Is the ‘Great Resignation’ Real in Canada?

The ‘Great Resignation’, hybrid work, hot desking and everything related are very hot topics in the business world. Elon Musk just hit the news with a controversial decision, demanding that all employees of Tesla return to the office if they want to keep their job. Microsoft has been in the media since it increased the pay of all its staff, and they plan to go public with their salary ranges on their future job advertisements. Even Beyonce is getting in on the action with a new hit song called “Break My Soul” (see video at bottom) which is being dubbed an anthem for the ‘Great Resignation.’  Beyoncé’s new song is an anthem for the Great Resignation | CNN Business

I wrote this article because I had the question in my mind whether the Great Resignation was as real in Canada as it was in the United States. The obvious fact is that the world of work will be different in both countries, but I was guessing that the situation would be different in each country because of our different economic and demographic situations. So, I started reading what I could, and I was shocked at the recent statistics and articles I was reading.

To be up front, there are some stats that are very different out there and it seems from month to month these results can be different. I did my best to weed things out but the stats in many cases seem outlandish and from companies who are solid. I knew that things were about to get interesting in Canada, but I didn’t realize that we were at this level of uncertainty.

As an example, we have a great company in Hays Specialist Recruitment Inc whose 2022 Canada Salary Guide states that “65% of workers are seriously considering leaving their current role” meanwhile 40% of respondent businesses said they were losing talent to higher pay being offered somewhere else. Hays 2022 Canada Salary Guide | Salary trends. Those stats seemed unbelievable to me, but I found similar but perhaps not as extreme statistics elsewhere. The Mental Health Index report by LifeWorks for February 2022 showed similar results where they say the following “Nearly half of Canadians are, or possibly are, rethinking their career goals because of the pandemic.” The Mental Health Index™ report: February 2022 | LifeWorks. Here are some other items of note from the same LifeWorks Report:

• 11% will make a career change because of the pandemic and another 23% are unsure.

• 30% are considering retraining for a different career.

• 24% are considering resigning and moving to a different role.

• 21% are considering retiring.

Wow, ok I know what you must be thinking, these could be flaky reports and stats but here is a stat from Statistics Canada that stood out: the number of job vacancies across all sectors reached an all-time high in the third quarter of 2021, up over 62 per cent from a year earlier. Alrighty then, we now see that we are seeing record vacancy rates, with half of the remaining workers thinking about leaving their job. Captain, we have a problem in Canada, labour shortages while according to Hays, 34% of Canadian businesses who responded to their survey are hoping to grow their businesses in 2022. 

To make matters even worse, we are seeing unprecedented volumes of mental health and addiction issues. Here are some of the findings of the Mental Health Index report by LifeWorks for March 2022:

  • More than two in five Canadians end their workday feeling mentally and/or physically exhausted.
  • More than one-quarter of Canadians are unable to disconnect from work after usual work hours.
  • 51% have too much work to do during their workday.
  • 25% report their manager contacts them after work hours.
  • 23% say their co-workers contact them after work hours
  • One in five employed Canadians are concerned, or are unsure, about their drinking or drug use.
  • 11% are concerned about their drinking or drug use, and a further 8% are unsure.

We have a labour shortage crisis, so we are overloading our high performers, causing them to have mental health issues and driving them to drink. Sounds like a great situation Canada, but I hope we respond by treating our existing staff better because if not we will lose employees to another business or to a mental health issue.

Below is a Bank of Canada chart from their Business Outlook Survey, for the first quarter of 2022. They are citing labour and supply chain frictions so that now capacity pressures are at an all time high. Business Outlook Survey—First Quarter of 2022 – Bank of Canada. These businesses can’t afford to lose any more staff than they already are. If half of their employees are considering leaving and some do, their business may be crippled, and they would face devastation if they can’t produce promised results. Clearly businesses need to take this seriously or the results could be fatal.

All those recent reports are pointing to an upcoming tsunami and the ‘Great Resignation’ is about to hit Canada. It looks like things might even be worse here because we had a labour shortage before the pandemic. I am not sure why the great resignation hit the US harder first but with all those eye-opening reports, and the baby boomers set to retire, we are in for some stormy seas. 

 What Now?


Since writing most of this article just a few weeks ago, the rising inflation, layoffs in the US and now rising interest rates, things may have changed things some. The underlying issues of the ‘Great Resignation’ still remain with unsatisfied and overworked employees who still want change. We may not see the layoffs to the same extent in Canada because of our existing labour shortages and perhaps now is even a good time for Canadian technology companies to try and steal away some of America’s best tech workers. I still believe we will see higher than usual resignation rates in Canada with more people switching jobs to get what they want. Deloitte just released a report that states that 70% of C-level executives in Canada, the US and Australia said that they would seriously consider quitting their jobs for a position that better supported their well being: Even your boss wants to quit (axios.com)



I’m sure you are excited after that uplifting article, but it doesn’t need to be so bad for you or your business if you act now. The world of work needs to change and if you treat your staff the way they deserve to be treated with more than just money, you can get through the interesting times ahead. I am a seasoned professional in human resources and change management and I know firsthand that employees have a limit to the amount of change they are willing to accept before they start rebelling. I believe that we have exceeded this change limit and people are now dealing with increased mental health issues as a result. Since we already have exceeded this limit, I prefer to look at the positive side of this situation since we can be aggressive and fix a lot of outstanding issues in our workplaces. Businesses need to take advantage of this golden opportunity and look at ways they can change their processes to become more efficient and effective. Many companies will just throw money at their employees and while this may work temporarily, there are many other things businesses can do sustainably attract and retain great talent. Check out our website www.FlexWorkConsulting.com for more resources and to learn how we can help!

Ian Pollard

Ian Pollard

Founding Partner
FlexWork Consulting

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