Press release

22 Jun. 2021 Toronto, CA

Canadian employers who don’t sustain current flexibility could risk losing half of their workforce

Employees divided on whether they’ve seen an improvement in company culture since the beginning of the pandemic

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Victoria McQueen

EY Canada Specialist, Public Relations

Supporting the development and distribution of external communications and social media across Canada. Can be found by the lake in the summer and on the slopes in the winter.

Related topics Workforce

Employees divided on whether they’ve seen an improvement in company culture since the beginning of the pandemic

  • 54% of employees are willing to quit if they aren’t offered the flexibility they want
  • 48% of employees say company culture has improved since the beginning of the pandemic
  • 61% want their company to require the vaccine before returning to physical workspaces

The EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey finds that 93% of respondents are likely to stay with their organization for the next 12 months or more — that is, if they have control on where and when they work. On the contrary, more than half (54%) say they would leave their company if current flexibility in schedule and work location is not extended post-pandemic.

“Whether you know — and accept — it or not, your employees have been forever transformed, and walking back this sea of change isn’t an option,” explains Darryl Wright, Partner, People Advisory Services at EY Canada. “Employees have embraced the flexibility that tech-enabled remote working has made possible. And they don’t expect it to stop in the aftermath of the pandemic. This is a critical moment for collaboration among all senior executives – from the CHRO and CTO to the CEO – to reimagine a model that supports both a safe transition and physical transformation to the workplace.”

The EY survey finds 9 out of 10 employees favour flexibility. Even when offered the option of having top-notch, on-site amenities at an assigned office, 67% would still prefer to control where and when they work, with respondents being 1.4 times more likely to opt for having control over working hours.

In spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, employees remain positive about their work.

“While early data suggests employees are just as productive working from home, and they value newfound flexibility, the jury is still out on the long-term effect of working remotely — including what’s been lost from the disappearance of in-person interactions, including coaching and mentoring,” Wright adds. “Considerations need to be given on how you configure office space, how you encourage certain work practices and how you can better support employee physical and mental wellbeing. Acting on these will be critical to building a strong organizational culture with a competitive advantage.”  

Currently, three-quarters of respondents rate job satisfaction at least a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. And a further 48% of employees believe their company culture has improved since the beginning of the pandemic, with the utilities sector showing the highest positive change and those in transportation and healthcare rating among the lowest.

“Organizations will need to continue leveraging the reach of technology and the gains of flexibility to cultivate teaming and a culture that supports innovation and productivity, in both physical and virtual environments,” says Wright. “Because while nearly half have seen a positive change in culture, there’s still the remaining half that have seen no or negative change — and that needs to be addressed.”

Part of that culture shift is the expectation that employers be transparent, take a stand and actively enable health and safety. In fact, nearly two-thirds expect their company to require vaccinations of all employees before returning to physical workspaces.

For more valuable insights on reimaging work, join our Evolving your workplace today for the workforce of tomorrow webcast on June 28. Register for the webcast here.

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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP.