As we step into 2024, the Canadian labour market continues to undergo significant shifts, presenting both challenges and opportunities for businesses and job seekers alike. Reflecting on the past year, it’s evident that the predictions regarding the employer’s market and wage growth have materialized, impacting businesses of all sizes. The economic cooling measures implemented by the central bank have led to a recessionary economy, placing substantial financial pressure on small businesses in particular.
Looking ahead, 2024 is poised to bring about a wave of closures for brave small businesses, with many facing the tough decision of selling their ventures or taking on heavy debt burdens to weather the storm. While small businesses strive to protect their employees, larger corporations are streamlining their workforce to safeguard profits. Unfortunately, governmental support for small businesses remains lacking, despite the pressing need for assistance during this challenging period.
Amidst these trials, there is a glimmer of hope as we anticipate the central bank’s potential rate reductions, offering businesses some flexibility and providing relief for consumers with mortgage renewals. However, the increased household debt load is likely to result in a period of cautious consumer spending, with significant growth not expected until late 2024 or early 2025. As businesses adapt and some restructure or pivot, there will be opportunities for strategic growth in 2025.
Key labour market trends for 2024:
- Unemployment is projected to climb to 7%, influenced by immigration impacts, redundancies, and reduced seasonal hiring.
- Companies will maintain a strong focus on cost consciousness due to rising goods and services costs, leading to flattened wage growth across most roles.
- Improved productivity is anticipated as job security concerns influence employee behaviour, with a potential acceleration of the return-to-office trend, particularly in Ottawa.
Advice for employers in 2024:
Prioritize job security for key employees, keeping them informed and engaged amid potentially difficult decisions. Maintaining a core team is crucial for bouncing back from the economic downturn. Emphasize fair and balanced employment practices, considering the cost of living for employees. While there may be an abundance of available talent, retaining and attracting skilled individuals remains essential for long-term success.
Strategic hiring will be a focal point in 2024, typically these revolve around upgrading key operational areas, shifting approach with your customers, bringing new products and services to the market or an update in your go-to market strategy.
If you are seeking employment in 2024:
Prepare for an ultra-competitive job market where employers have a wide pool of candidates. The criteria for evaluating candidates have evolved, with a stronger emphasis on the total value they bring to the organization. Highlight your skills, experiences, networks, and value proposition effectively in your application materials.
Be open to the possibility of not receiving the same salary levels as in previous years, as employers are seeking more experience for comparable compensation. Adaptability and focusing on delivering value to potential employers will be crucial in securing opportunities in this evolving landscape.
As we navigate the complexities of the 2024 labour market, both employers and job seekers must remain agile and forward-thinking. By embracing strategic approaches and adapting to the changing dynamics, businesses and individuals can position themselves for success in the post-recession era.
Stay informed, stay proactive, and stay resilient – here’s to a successful 2024!
Author: James Baker, CEO, Keynote Search