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The Great … Renegotiation?

Employees are taking a more active role in their work life and asserting how they expect employers to show up for them.

Work hasn’t been the same since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Great Resignation that led to demand for talent and left companies scrambling to retain and attract skilled workers has evolved into The Great Renegotiation. Employees are taking a more active role in their work life and asserting how they expect employers to show up for them.

For them?

Yes – them! Gone are the days when employers dictated the terms of employment and the workforce either got on board or stayed unemployed.

Here’s What is Happening

A fundamental renegotiation of labour is underway – one that sees individuals reevaluating what’s important to them professionally and personally and seeking employment environments that are aligned.

The power dynamic that used to sit firmly in favor of the employer has shifted to one that is more balanced and better meets everyone’s needs.

The Washington Post summarized it well noting “White-collar workers don’t want to give up working remotely. Low-paying sectors such as the hospitality industry can’t find enough people willing to work for the wages on offer. Union organizing and strikes have been on an upswing.”

The workforce is renegotiating what work is.

Why the Shift?

It’s not (just) about a cheque. Though, the rising cost of living has left a low tolerance for stagnant wages that lag behind inflation. Workers want to be compensated equitability and enough to afford food, rent and a reasonable lifestyle. When they’re not, many will renegotiate or move on to an employer willing to meet their wage requirements.

Traditional health benefits and RRSP matching aren’t quite cutting it either. The perks and benefits that recruited and retained a talented workforce in “the before times” are now expected minimums. Employees are looking to see those supplemented with wellness programs and appreciation initiatives that value and engage employees, among other initiatives that take a holistic approach.

And then there’s the burnout that led to better boundary setting. Workers are rejecting the work-first culture and are opting for a work-to-live mentality that prioritizes balance to nourish personal relationships, mental health and physical well-being. In action that looks like seeking remote or hybrid work environments, four-day work weeks (which are becoming increasingly more common) and schedules that accommodate personal needs while still meeting employer requirements and driving business goals forward.

What Employers Can Do

The traditional stance of many employers has shifted to keep pace. Those who cannot or will not adapt may find themselves with high turnover and lingering job vacancies that cost significant productivity, performance and money.

For those who can evolve their employment offerings, they can position themselves as an employer of choice during The Great Renegotiation by:

  • offering competitive wages (salary transparency is a major plus too)

  • re-examining benefits and perks to ensure they align with the wants and needs of their people

  • respecting boundaries that support work-life balance

  • embracing flexibility in work location with hybrid or remote options

  • accommodating non-traditional schedules

It’s unlikely people ever again embrace jobs they don’t like, that don’t pay enough. And, frankly, they don’t have to.


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