In late 2021, Canadian employees and job seekers were stressed and that had a direct impact on their workplace expectations: 44% of employers say employee expectations surrounding happiness at work have risen in the last five years. 

While Canadian employers started leaning in and taking action, Canadian workers were still struggling when it came to wellbeing at work. Just 54% report feeling their company cares about them as individuals. Second only to pay, lack of happiness is a leading reason why people consider leaving a job.

Retention, though, is just one of the reasons employers need to better emphasize employee wellbeing. Employee happiness is tied to several business-critical benefits, including: 

  • Increased employee engagement 
  • Higher productivity 
  • Improved customer and workplace relationships 
  • Increased financial performance 
  • Stronger employer branding — and with that, more seamless recruitment and hiring 

The key? Understanding what your employees want right now, and taking meaningful steps to deliver.

What employees want right now

Before reimagining your organizational framework, benefits, or compensation scale, it’s important to take a step back and assess your workforce. What’s considered the “norm” in your industry right now, in terms of compensation, flexibility, and other benefits and perks? Are there opportunities or add-ons your competitors are offering that’s drawing talent in your direction — and are there steps you can take to keep pace? 

Once you’ve identified areas of potential improvement, the next step is to consider what truly impacts employees’ happiness and wellbeing. While many organizational leaders may assume salary and other compensation-related perks drive employee and job seeker satisfaction, increasingly employees want more. Social and emotional factors like a sense of purpose, belonging, and achievement have the greatest impact on wellbeing

Flexibility is also a significant factor in employee wellbeing — 77% of Canadian workers say time and location flexibility impacts whether or not they’ll stay in a role

Depending on your industry and type of work performed, consider the level of flexibility you’re able to offer, if any, and be sure you’re messaging these perks to employees and job seekers. The majority of employees say recent shifts towards greater remote work has had a positive impact on their work-life balance and wellness — so continuing or implementing flexible schedules can be a step towards long-term happiness and wellbeing within your workplace.  

Next steps: creating a culture of wellbeing

While these are common markers of workplace wellbeing, no two environments — or workforces — are the same. To ensure you’re taking the right next steps towards creating a culture of happiness and wellbeing, ask. Anonymous surveys, focus groups, and employee feedback groups are great ways to dig into the real-time wants, needs, and expectations of your workforce while, at the same time, gauging the impact of your efforts going forward.

These deep-dives will, likely, uncover some workplace-specific wants. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, for example, focuses on wellbeing by offering a host of flexible health plans, many of which extend into retirement. The company — consistently ranked one of the top places to work — also offers healthy eating options in their cafeteria and encourages employees to use in-office time to workout at their onsite fitness facility.

Having this framework and encouraging ongoing dialogue between your HR team and cross-functional employees are also critical. Cultivating workplace happiness and wellbeing isn’t a finish line, it’s an ongoing, iterative process that needs to evolve with your employees, talent needs, and marketplace shifts. By keeping the conversations going and committing to acting on employee feedback and experiences, you’ll be better positioned to create a place where people want to work — a place that attracts, retains, and inspires diverse talent, today and tomorrow.