Great Resignation? Don’t Believe the Hype, Canada

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Perhaps you’ve heard of the ongoing Great Resignation, wherein all employed persons simultaneously channel the energy of country music singer Johnny Paycheck (he who famously and tunefully recommended the taking and subsequent shoving of his job). Well, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and something is definitely afoot but, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the Great Resignation’s impact on executive search north of the border have been greatly exaggerated. Despite this, companies looking to attract top talent to their boardroom should take note of paradigm shifts impacting the workplace. Those who don’t will fail to attract leadership candidates, or, worse yet, succeed in attracting the wrong ones. 

The Great (American) Resignation 

In April of 2021 2.7% of US workers voluntarily left their jobs.1 This staggering number sent shockwaves through the business media landscape and led to much speculation and doomsday prophesying regarding the workforce, the economy, and inflation. 

To be clear, the situation is real and quite alarming, just not so much in Canada, at least not currently. A recent report by the CIBC concludes that Canadians have yet to run for the exit door in droves. Canadian ‘quit rates’ remain relatively unchanged from pre-Covid levels, with a three month average of just 0.7%.2 Canadians are likewise selecting early retirement with less frequency than their American counterparts. The labour force participation rate (those working or seeking work) sits at 65.3% in Canada, not out of whack with traditional rates.3

“When Canadian data are adjusted to U.S. concepts, Canada’s participation rate was 65.1% in September 2021, 0.3 percentage points below its February 2020 level,” StatsCan said. “In the United States, the September labour force participation rate was 1.7 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level.”3

Recruiting CEOs on Planet Earth

If you own a cell phone, it has probably presented you with stories of the CEO who was controversially put in charge of a certain Canadian telecommunications juggernaut, or the CEO who can’t speak French, or the one who left Twitter, or the several who have ventured into outer space. Executive news has ventured into the realm of clickbait, built on a recipe of high stakes drama and cult of personality. 

Here on the ground, executives are dealing with paradigm changes of a more earthly variety. Remote and hybrid work models are now on the table (sometimes the kitchen table). Diversity, equity, and inclusion is both a moral imperative and a growth opportunity. Work-life balance and company culture are important considerations. Technological and political landscapes evolve non stop. 

“With so many potential changes on the horizon, building the best executive leadership team has never been more important. How have talent acquisition and executive search adapted to the new normal? How can you use that to your company’s advantage?” asks Forbes Senior Contributor John Hall.4

Finding the Right Executive 

Step one in a good executive recruitment process involves some healthy soul searching. Different executives possess differing skill sets; determining which abilities to prioritize involves analysing your company’s short, medium and long term goals, objectives, and challenges. 

Companies are also wise to free themselves from broken screening models. Instead of simply seeking candidates that remind them of themselves, companies are using quantitative metrics and blind screening to solicit fresh perspectives. 

Diversity makes your company more insightful and effective,” writes Hall. “Prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion at the executive level can improve productivity and drive positive outcomes. A commitment to DEI also makes your company more attractive to a wider pool of candidates.”4

Attracting Top Executives

Defining and locating your ideal executive is one thing, persuading them to join your company is another. Just as incoming executives will have to understand what motivates those employed by the company, you will have to determine what motivates the potential executive hire. 

This starts, of course, with a competitive salary, but it doesn’t end there. In an employee’s market, compensation packages have become increasingly personalized and executives are no different. 

Work life balance, flexibility, and company culture are all buzzy terms, but they are truly differentiators in today’s marketplace. Contrary to popular belief, not all C-suite stars are workaholics and many will want to understand what their days, weeks, and years will look like. 

A good challenge is often a great motivator to the type of dynamic individual that provides value to a company. Where is your company going? How can they help you get there? What opportunities are at hand for both the company and the candidate? 

Realistically, many factors impact such decisions. Will the executive be forced to relocate? What will be the nature of their commute? Is equity sharing a possibility? 

Despite the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, many strong executive candidates are available to those who provide opportunity. A good presentation can make a real difference in recruiting. Companies should understand what they bring to the table, because the candidates certainly do. 

Cited Sources
1 Mann, Kiran. “Council Post: Brace Yourself for the Great Resignation: A Note to the Leaders.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, November 1, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2021/11/01/brace-yourself-for-the-great-resignation-a-note-to-the-leaders
2 Bloomberg, BNN. “The Great Resignation? Not so Much in Canada, Says CIBC – BNN Bloomberg.” BNN, November 18, 2021. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/the-great-resignation-not-so-much-in-canada-says-cibc-1.1684146
3 Hussain, Yadullah. “Posthaste: Why the ‘Great Resignation’ Never Really Took off in Canada.” financialpost. Financial Post, November 9, 2021. https://financialpost.com/executive/posthaste-why-the-great-resignation-never-really-took-off-in-canada
4 Hall, John. “Trends in Executive Recruiting That Will Help You Get the Best Talent.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, April 4, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2021/04/04/trends-in-executive-recruiting-that-will-help-you-get-the-best-talent
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Henry Goldbeck

Henry E. Goldbeck, President of Goldbeck Recruiting Inc, is a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and founded Goldbeck Recruiting in 1997. Since then, Henry has built the company's reputation as a leading headhunter and recruitment agency in sales, marketing, operations, engineering, and executive level positions across a variety of industries.

President & CEO at Goldbeck Recruiting Inc.