Poll shows employers will exceed budgets to attract top talent but overall hiring activity to slow in 2020
Conservative pay increases for existing staff may not be enough to offset growing job dissatisfaction

December 3, 2019 – Toronto, ON – Findings from the tenth annual Hays Canada Salary Guide released today show the majority (66%) of the country’s employers are ready to exceed payroll budgets to attract new hires and more than a third (34%) plan to boost salaries for existing staff in the year ahead. While these compensation strategies can be seen as positive momentum for 2020, Hays experts warn that fewer employers will increase headcount. Despite a general state of economic optimism, only 40 per cent of companies said they will take on additional permanent staff over the next year - a 12 per cent year-over-year drop that could worsen workplace stress, morale and efficiency.

Drawn from survey responses from more than 3,000 employers and employees across the country, the 2020 Hays Canada Salary Guide revealed that 62 per cent of employers believe their industry will grow over the next year. Hays analyzed salary trends over five years and found that raises of more than three per cent are on the rebound. At the same time, hiring activity is expected to slow as employers opt to do more with less resources. This comes at a point when 58 per cent of employee respondents expressed serious interest in leaving their current role citing factors including 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, President, Hays Canada. “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.”

Money is important but employees want a complete package

Heading into 2020, more than three-quarters (79%) of employers said they suffer from a skills shortage while nearly half (47%) report local competition for talent and compensation is among their biggest hiring obstacles. Hays labour force observers believe this has motivated employers to exceed set budgets to secure needed talent but warns that competing based on salary alone can lead to cycles of being outspent by companies with deeper pockets.

When asked about sought-after benefits and workplace perks, 76 per cent of employee respondents said they wanted three or more weeks of vacation, half (52%) consider health and dental packages a plus and 43 per cent want the ability to work from home. Encouragingly, Hays Salary Guide data suggests many employers are catching on and are offering innovative work arrangements as both a retention and new talent recruitment tool. This includes the freedom to work remotely (42%), flexible scheduling (37%) and the ability to compress working hours (21%). When it comes to battling the skills shortage, nearly half (46%) of surveyed employers said they offered employee training over the past 12-months in an effort to upskill their existing teams.

“When managing through things like skills shortages, employers have to contend with the war chests of competing companies and that can be as costly as it is frustrating,” added O’Grady. “Time and again, people tell us that health and wellness, flexible work options and training opportunities are weighted right alongside dollars. Knowing what people want is extremely valuable to recruitment and will go a long way in keeping teams happy.”

Additional highlights from the 2020 Hays Canada Salary Guide:

  • More than half of Quebec employers plan to increase salaries more than two per cent in 2020 – more than any other region in the country
  • British Columbia is suffering from the largest shortage of skills – it is affecting 86 per cent of employers
  • Thirty-six per cent of employers in Alberta are planning to add permanent head count in the year ahead
  • Sixty-three per cent of employees in Ontario are satisfied with their benefits – far more than the national average of 50 per cent

For additional insights, including sector specific data and regional breakdowns, click here for access to the 2020 Hays Salary Guide.

Jenna Bruno

Media Profile



About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2019 the Group employed 11,500 staff operating from 265 offices in 33 markets across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2019, the Group reported net fees of £1,129.7 billion and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £248.8 million.