Pandemic workplace stress now leading to The Great Resignation, and mass retirements?
September 15, 2022
There have been reports from around the world about The Great Resignation – how the stress and strain of working through the pandemic crisis has prompted many to opt out of the workforce altogether.
In Canada, reports The Globe and Mail, the primary way that Canucks are leaving the workforce is via retirement.
“Last week’s July employment report from Statistics Canada revealed that a record 300,000 Canadians have retired over the past 12 months,” writes columnist David Parkinson. “That’s up nearly 30 per cent from the same time last year, and nearly 15 per cent from the months leading up to the pandemic in early 2020,” he continues.
One might think that older workers leaving the workforce – boomers and near-boomers finally giving back their ID badge and parking pass – might be good news for younger workers.
However, the Globe continues, there may also be a downside to this “retirement frenzy.” The article quotes economist Stephen Brown as saying “the sharp increase in retirees this year presents downside risks to our forecasts for employment, and with gross domestic product (GDP) growth already faltering, further raises the probability that economic activity will contract.”
The article links today’s record-low unemployment rate with a less-good stat, a falling job participation rate. In plainer terms, less joblessness, yes, but overall, less people working. “All this poses downside risks for GDP, particularly if retirements increase any further,” notes Brown in the article.
A clearer example of The Great Resignation’s impacts can be gleaned from an article in Manitoba’s Thompson Citizen. In Northern Manitoba, the article reports, recruitment bonuses of up to $6,750 – bonuses that continue on after hire – are being offered to try and get nursing positions filled in remote First Nations’ facilities. A lack of healthcare staffing has sparked a crisis in the area, the newspaper reports.
In Northern Ontario, the CBC reports, the mining and supply industry is also seeing “a shrinking and aging labour force,” and a “scramble” to fill open jobs.
“You’re going to see businesses closing because they can’t find enough people. And then it could also be putting more pressure on the people that are currently working,” Reggie Calverson of the Sudbury Manitoulin Workforce Planning Board tells the CBC.
There, technology is being deployed to automate some jobs – more AI, more robots, self-checkouts and virtual customer service, the CBC report notes.
And the younger workers left behind as their older colleagues “resign” or retire are indeed finding it a strain to pick up the slack, reports Time magazine via Yahoo!.
Many, the magazine reports, are “quiet quitting,” which is “the concept of no longer going above and beyond, and instead doing what their job description requires of them and only that.”
Employers in the U.S. and elsewhere fear that while “quiet quitters” will avoid job burnout by leaving at quitting time and not dealing with after-hours emails and meetings, overall productivity could be impacted at a time when there are fewer workers in the job pool.
How to incent workers who feel “unengaged?” A Globe and Mail piece by Jared Lindzon suggests more bonus pay, such as commissions, or even retirement-related incentives.
Many employers are considering offering matching contributions to their company’s retirement program, or setting up new programs, the article says.
It’s interesting to read that for some experts, a wave of retirements is negative for the economy. Canadian research from a few years ago suggests that retired workers do give the economy a boost via their pensions, which they tend to spend on goods and services and taxes.
A study last year carried out for the Canadian Public Pension Plan Leadership Council (CPPLC) by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis found that “every $10 of pension payments generates $16.70 of economic activity and makes a total contribution of $82 billion to Canada’s economy annually,” reports Benefits Canada.
OK, a lot going on here. People are retiring in droves, particularly those aged 55 to 65. It’s harder to fill jobs. Those in jobs are feeling overburdened, perhaps thanks to the fact that older colleagues have left and have not been replaced. While some fear this Great Resignation will negatively impact the economy, others who feel retirees are already helping out the economy may see this as more good news.
So let’s look at retirement savings in a new way. What can you, as an individual, do to help the Canadian economy in the future? Why, you can save for retirement and then, when you are there, spend your income on goods and services, while paying your taxes. That helps your local economy and your local and federal governments.
If you are in a workplace pension plan, you are on the right path. But if not – or you want to augment the plan you have – consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Consider joining the 400 businesses offering SPP and its 32,000 members whose retirement savings now represent an impressive $600 million.
Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!
Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.