Survey: Canadian Workers Look Toward a Post-COVID-19 Future

Updated August 12, 2022

As we hunker down for a holiday season unlike any other in recent history, hope is on the horizon. News of a second wave of COVID-19 cases gripping the world has been counterbalanced by optimism about near-term vaccine availability. Yet, while many Canadian workers are feeling grateful for their jobs, views on the prospects for the 2021 job market are mixed.

In the midst of a pandemic and global jobs crisis, Indeed reached out to hear directly from workers in Canada alongside those in other countries globally to compare 2020 experiences and workers’ outlook for the 2021 job market. We surveyed over 1,000 Canadian workers in November 2020 and here’s what we found:

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The future of work: A Canadian worker’s perspective

With the Canadian unemployment rate remaining elevated at 8.5% as of November, employed Canadian workers are valuing their jobs more highly. Over half of respondents (57%) said that in 2020 they realized their job was more important to them than ever. Nearly three-quarters (72%) said they are motivated to ‘perform to the best of my abilities in my role.’

Yet, Canadians’ views on the effect of the pandemic on personal lives and careers are more mixed. Just under a third (32%) of Canadian workers said their personal circumstances worsened during 2020. Yet, many also described positive effects stemming from the pandemic such as more time with family (35%), increased work from home opportunities (29%) and greater work/life balance (23%). What’s more, nearly two-thirds (60%) agreed that this time period has provided a valuable learning experience for their careers.

When thinking about the pandemic and what is to come in 2021, over 2 in 5 (46%) respondents agreed with the statement: ‘The lines between work and life for most people in my country have become permanently blurred -- it's now about work/life blend.’ That’s how nearly half of Canadian workers now feel about the future of work.

Job security is a focus for 2021

Looking ahead to the 2021 job market, just under a third (30%) of Canadian workers are not optimistic with less than a quarter (23%) expressing optimism. Prospects for a pay increase seem even less promising. Over half of workers (56%) are not optimistic about receiving one in 2021. Many plan to stick with current jobs. Just over a third (34%) of Canadian workers said the statement, ‘I am open for other job opportunities but will not actively look for a new job’ applies to their intentions for 2021.

To induce them to switch jobs in 2021, over 3 in 5 workers (64%) said a higher salary is a must, followed by improved job security (41%), and a better benefits package (38%). Well over two-thirds of Canadian workers are focused on job security, with 7 in 10 (70%) agreeing with the statement “Having a secure, stable form of employment will be one of my top priorities for 2021.

Canadian workers are less optimistic about the job market than global peers

To get a sense of the varying impact of the crisis on the work world across different demographics and countries, Indeed also polled workers in UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, USA, Ireland, Australia, India and Singapore. We found that, broadly speaking, workers in other markets are more optimistic (36%) about the 2021 job market as compared to Canadian workers (23%).

Expectations for salary increases in 2021 are muted globally, with almost half of workers (48%) saying they are not optimistic about receiving a salary increase in 2021, and about a quarter (24%) saying they are not at all optimistic. These concerns seem valid. For example, the recently released 2020/2021 Salary Planning Survey from global consulting firm Arthur J. Gallagher reports that nearly half of US firms are re-evaluating salary increase plans for 2021.

On the other hand, global workers are slightly more likely (61%) than Canadian workers (57%) to agree with the statement: ‘In 2020 I realised my job was more important to me than ever’, with almost 3 in 10 of global workers (29%) and just under a quarter of Canadians (24%) strongly agreeing.

Perhaps this result is less surprising given the Indeed study’s finding that Canadian workers were most likely among global workers to report a decline in mental health during 2020. Almost a third of Canadian workers (30%) said that mental health concerns had the largest impact on their personal circumstances in 2020. Almost three-quarters (72%) of workers in Canada agreed with the statement: ‘In 2020 I learned that there are more important things in life than my job.’

Looking forward

As the new year approaches, Canadian workers are taking stock of current job situations. For the nearly 90% who are employed, most intend to stay put for now - although a higher salary, more job security or better benefits could tempt them to consider a new job. The pandemic experience seems to have left Canadian workers slightly worse off than global counterparts in terms of mental health, but also seems to have demonstrated the benefits of a healthy work/life balance. Many are taking that lesson to heart going into 2021.


This survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed among 14,142 workers worldwide, including 1006 Canadian workers. The survey was conducted in November 2020 using an online panel. The confidence interval is 3.1, which equates to a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

Countries surveyed include UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, USA, Ireland, Australia, India, Singapore, Canada.

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