February 26, 2019

Canada, Toronto

Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study identifies four top trends shaping the future of work.

According to Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study, over three-quarters (77%) of executives in Canada predict significant disruption in the next three years. This is higher than anticipation from the U.S. and globally (65% and 73% respectively). As executives focus on making their organizations “future-fit”, significant human capital risks – including the ability to close the skills gap and overcome employee change fatigue – can impede transformation progress. Addressing these concerns is paramount, given that only one in three executives rate their company’s ability to mitigate human capital risks as very effective.

“Ongoing technological advances have moved organizations from anticipation to action in preparing for the future of work. But as companies transform their business models and strategies to realize the opportunities of the digital revolution, they risk ignoring the needs and desires of individuals and overwhelming them with too much change and process,” said Gordon Frost, Partner and Career Business Leader for Mercer Canada.

In today’s climate of uncertainty, employees seek stability. Mercer’s study finds that job security is one of the top three reasons employees joined their company, and the main reason they stay. Yet, one quarter of employees in Canada are concerned that AI and automation will replace their job – compared to one in five employees in the U.S. One of the ways to help employees feel secure is to foster human connections. In Canada, thriving employees (those prospering in the areas of health, wealth, and career) are twice as likely to describe their role as “relationship focused” and three times as likely to call their work environment as “collaborative.”

“For employers to create a thriving workforce, they must tap into data to create personalized employee experiences while driving connectivity for employees,” said Mr. Frost.

Mercer’s study identifies four top trends that leading companies are pursuing in 2019: Aligning Work to Future Value, Building Brand Resonance, Curating the Work Experience, and Delivering Talent-led Change.

Aligning Work to Future Value. With 53% of HR leaders in Canada planning to invest more in automation this year, AI and automation continue to transform the competitive landscape and reshape how work gets done. This climate of uncertainty is impacting employees in Canada, with two-thirds asking for more clearly defined responsibilities. Interestingly, while job design is high on the C-suite agenda in the U.S., it’s a low priority for Canada’s C-suite, with only one in five executives in Canada saying that redefining jobs would have a sizeable impact on the company’s business performance. To address the challenges ahead, HR must take an integrated approach to people strategy and leverage the right talent analytics to inform decisions on the future size and shape of the organization – yet only two in five companies have good insights into the business impact of their buy, build, borrow, and automate strategies. “The key is aligning jobs and people to where value is being created, and enabling a mechanism to reward future-fit skills and behaviors,” said Mr. Frost.

Building Brand Resonance. What matters to employees and job seekers is the way a company conducts business and upholds the values of its brand. In a social, transparent world, the lines are blurring between a company’s consumer brand and its talent value proposition (TVP). Successful companies ensure that their brand resonates with all workforce segments – 56% of high-growth organizations differentiate their TVP to different groups (such as millennials vs. boomers, or full time employees vs. contingent workers), compared to 47% of modest-growth companies. An organization’s total rewards philosophy is one area where brand values can shine. In Canada, thriving employees are twelve times more likely to work for a company that ensures equity in pay and promotion decisions (71% vs. 6%) – sufficiently higher than employees in the U.S. (four times more likely).

Curating the Work Experience. An engaging and relevant day-to-day work experience is essential for retaining top talent. According to Mercer’s study, thriving employees are four times more likely to work for an organization that enables quick decision-making (76% vs. 19%) and nearly three times more likely for one that provides tools and resources for them to do their job efficiently (77% vs. 27%). Personalized and simplified professional development plans are an ask from employees – more than half (58%) of employees want curated learning to help them evolve their skills and prepare for future jobs. Technology plays a critical role, but currently only 2% of companies in Canada provide a fully digital experience for employees.

Delivering Talent-led Change. To ensure talent is at the center of change, HR should have a voice in business transformation. This year’s study found 51% of HR leaders in Canada were involved in planning the rollout of major change projects and 45% involved in executing those plans. But, only one in three HR leaders participated in the idea generation stage of transformation initiatives. HR sees employee morale as a significant barrier to making changes stick: “Employee attrition” is the top challenge faced in the year ahead, with “change resistance” and a “decline in employee trust” also in the top five. “These findings point to the need for transformation efforts to focus on people-centered design and better talent metrics to understand how people are experiencing and embracing change,” said Mr. Frost.

Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends study shares insights from over 7,300 senior business executives, HR leaders, and employees from nine key industries and 16 geographies around the world. Canadian respondents included members of the C-suite, HR team and employees.

To download the report, visit https://www.mercer.ca/en/our-thinking/career/global-talent-hr-trends-2019.html.

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 22,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With more than 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit www.mercer.ca. Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerCanada.