In September 2017, Morneau Shepell released their annual report on Trends in Human Resources which surveyed 370 Canadian employers about their future plans, and asked HR leaders to identify their primary areas of interest in 2018. The findings revealed an overarching goal to build high performing and resilient workforces. The top three concerns were, improving employee engagement (65%), attracting and retaining employees with the right skills (56%), and helping their organizations adapt better to ongoing change (55%).
Despite an expected increase in average salary of about 2.3% from 2017, employers don’t seem overly concerned about its affect on business. This suggests a shift in focus to reduce cost by investing in their employees’ well being. Increased use of data is linking employee health, engagement and productivity which give employers much to consider. When approaching the issue of mental health, HR leaders reported that their primary challenges were lack of knowledge by their managers (58%) and employees (55%), in addition to stigma (55%).
By acknowledging the fast changing pace in the workforce, employers are increasingly investing in workplace mental health. In fact, reducing absenteeism was identified as a priority for 66% of employers surveyed, with the two main areas of focus being managing mental health claims and training managers to improve disability management outcomes.
Employers and HR leaders are however, worried about their employees’ level of preparedness for retirement. Of those with a DB (defined benefit) plan, 49% of employers are looking to review their investment strategy, to improve performance, or lower cost. Of the DC (defined contribution) plan sponsors, 58% said they were providing, or considering providing, education/information that would assist their employees after retirement.
While the report expresses challenges and gaps in traditional HR practices, employers seem to be recognizing the need to adapt to the rapidly evolving landscape of the workforce. Though they remain optimistic about the coming year, the report asserts the importance of being proactive in strategizing to build high performing and resilient workforces. The implications of being reactionary are simply too great to ignore.