There is no doubt that COVID-19 has permanently changed the way companies work and the way their employees want to work; there is less certainty, however, about the long-term effect of those changes on companies, their employees and the economy.
A recent survey conducted by Maru Public Opinion and human capital management company ADP Canada found that work-life balance now matters more than pay in the hierarchy of reasons for workers to remain with a company or seek employment elsewhere.
Working from home at least some of the time has become another critical factor for employees.
It remains to be seen, however, how critical that is for employers and the overall economy.
The new leverage workers have in the marketplace might in some cases be a rebalancing of previous job markets in which the employer wielded the workplace hammer.
But too much heft in too many hands on either side of the employee/employer equation creates a dysfunctional workplace and adds another speed bump on the road to a robust economy – especially when government tips the scales in favour of employees with taxpayer-funded subsidies like the Canada Recovery Benefit that reduce the incentive to include any work in 21st century work-life balance.
Job vacancies have become a major issue for Canadian employers. The job applicant shortage is also a major roadblock to Canada’s post-vaccination economic recovery.
It is good news, however, for robots.
A persistently high job vacancy rate in Canada will accelerate automation and displace more workers from an increasingly wide range of jobs.
That will not be good in a country that has exhausted its collective savings account during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without the luxury of that savings account, another shock to the economy from another unexpected crisis might leave government with no survival funds for businesses and people.
That’s when work-life balance demands will collide with economic survival realities.