Recently in the media, a discussion has occurred on the topic of the “great resignation”. Employees are leaving their employment at exceptionally high rates despite a time of economic uncertainty. For small and medium-sized business owners who are already competing for talent and striving for stability and growth, there is a sense of urgency to alleviate the situations that cause staff to leave the workplace voluntarily.

In this edition of Thinking Strategically about your Human Resources, we share a few perspectives on the “great resignation” phenomena and its implications for small and medium-sized businesses.

In a recent airing of The Agenda with Steve Paikin, a panel of experts including Vass Bednar, Executive Director, Master of Public Policy in Digital Society Program, McMaster University, and member of the Ontario Workplace Advisory Committee; Robyn Doolittle, Globe and Mail investigative reporter; and Deena Ladd, Executive Director, Workers Action Centre, discussed the reality of this concept for Canada’s workforce.

The panellist engaged in an insightful dialogue on the nature of work, the future of work, and time and autonomy for workers. Though Canadian data is not readily available yet, what is apparent is that workers are taking the time to think about their options based on their family dynamic, level of financial security, the type of work available to them, and job security. In addition, the panellists speak about the disproportionately negative impact of the current economic environment and the pandemic on women, people of colour, indigenous workers and workers with disabilities. The key insight shared is that the working conditions for this group of workers are one of limited benefits and rights.

The Human Resource Professional Association (HRPA), HR Insights blog entitled “The Great Resignation or The Great Retention?”, dated October 20, 2021, focuses on the possible reasons some workers leave their employment and actions to retain employees.

The cause for employees exiting their workplaces include employee burnout, poor workplace culture, lack of flexibility, and lack of meaning and growth. Conversely, the suggestions made to retain staff include promoting mental health and well-being, workplace flexibility, providing more opportunities for training and employee career enhancement, a culture that fosters belong and fair total reward packages, to name a few.

In its 2017 report, “Remaining Competitive in a Challenging Talent Marketplace”, from the Society of Human Resources, the report identified the range of benefits provided by the employers surveyed and the ranking of each benefit. Generally, these benefits fell into one of the following categories, Flexible Leave and Working Conditions, Investment and Retirement, Family-Friendly and Wellness, Healthcare and Health Services, and Programs and Services. Based on the data collected the report concluded that “recruiting difficulty has continued to increase over the last five years, and competition for talent is high, to attract and retain top talent, organizations must leverage the benefits package they offer to their employees”. Applying the learning from these sources, we have identified five actions leaders can take to attract employees, remain competitive and foster an environment that encourages “the great retention.”

  • Action Step #1: Speak to your employees and ask them what they need to feel like they can take care of themselves and their families.
  • Action Step #2: Do not assume that your employees’ benefit needs are based on demographics data only; instead, consider their lifestyle, career, and personal and financial goals
  • Action Step #3: Invest in benefits that support singles and families of all types
  • Action Step #4: Educate your employees of the benefit offerings that are available through your provider, provincially and federally
  • Action Step #5: If you do not currently offer benefits for your employees, reach out to a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist to get more information on where to begin. It is simpler than you think to create a plan for your employees.
  • Action Step #6: Foster a work environment of belonging, fairness, stability, and respect.

Leaders are often heard telling their employees to “take care.” Leaders can enable their employees to do just that by providing the benefits they need and flexible, convenient, and relevant benefits.


To discuss benefits for your employees, contact Mike at or (416) 428-7728. Employee Benefits and Savings Plans – Home – Black Brick Capital

To discuss your strategic human resources issues, please get in touch with Marcella by email at or (416) 898-7387 Marcella Kowalchuk Consulting Inc

Stay well and stay safe.