And while 40% of Canadian executives say they’ll be looking at bolt-on acquisitions to increase market share, 27% say they have their eyes on transformative deals that could help them reimagine business models or take them into new geographies.
Meanwhile, 79% of Canadian executives surveyed say their company has failed to complete or has cancelled a planned acquisition in the last 12 months. This suggests that while the M&A market may be having a renewed bull run, companies are being prudent in their decision-making. That said, companies are trying to find reasons not to walk away from deals because they know that the right target assets with the right competencies and the right synergistic qualities are hard to find.
Workforce management emerges as a priority
While Canadian companies believe they overperformed in many areas during the pandemic and are well-positioned to accelerate growth, nearly one-third (32%) of executives acknowledge that they underperformed when it came to workforce management. Moreover, 78% say the pandemic has increased their strategic focus and investment in their people, suggesting that even those who believe they performed the same or better than average feel they could be doing more.
Fear of change appears to be a primary concern for Canadian companies regarding their employees. The rapid shift to full-time remote working may have amplified employees’ feelings of isolation and disconnection to the purpose and strategic direction of their organizations. At the same time, companies have discovered opportunities to bring global teams together and gain access to specialized skills without having to fly people around the world.
These shifts may permanently change what the organization’s workforce looks like. Organizations will be able to look further afield for top talent, create team hubs in smaller markets, and consider hybrid and fully remote work models. However, Canadian companies will also need to create an employee-centered culture that nurtures connection and engagement to retain top employees in an increasingly competitive talent environment.
Three key takeaways for Canadian executives
As Canadian executives examine lessons learned from the pandemic and prepare their path forward, there are three key takeaways worth considering.
1. Look after your talent — or someone else will
Going back to the old workforce ways won’t work for everyone. Organizations will need to consider individual resilience, which includes employee physical and mental/psychological well-being, as a foundation for enterprise resilience and resurgence. If employees feel that leaders care about them as individuals — both at work and at home — they’ll be more likely to trust and engage in the decisions the company makes. Purpose, culture, leadership and trust are the fundamental elements that will help Canadian companies identify opportunities as they consider the future of work.
2. Make bold moves — act fast to take advantage of opportunities
Making bold moves means having the agility to respond to opportunities and address challenges as they arise. Nearly three-quarters of Canadian executives say their companies have a business and technology transformation underway. Embarking on a transformation journey is a great start, but it is also imperative that they succeed. To succeed, Canadian companies need to put humans at the center of their focus, apply technology at speed and innovate at scale. Canadian companies that do so can do more than prosper — they can make bold moves and create exponential value that lasts.
3. Don’t sit on the M&A sideline — active acquirers may outperform
In addition to pandemic considerations, geopolitical uncertainty forced 74% of Canadian executives to alter their strategic investments. A wait-and-see attitude that may have proved prudent in the short term could hamper growth opportunities if companies choose to sit on the sidelines over the longer term. Disruption and uncertainty are here to stay. Canadian companies that actively pursue M&A to accelerate growth will increase their chances of outperforming their competitors.