Despite significant job loss across the country, most Canadian employees say their loyalty to their company remains strong, but they are divided on returning to the workplace

June 10, 2020

ADP Canada continues to explore the effects of COVID-19 on Canadian workplaces through its Workplace Insights survey series. The final survey of the series examines workers’ loyalty to their employers, operational impacts, and the return to physical workplaces, following past surveys on employee health and safety, employer readiness and response, and the pandemic's impact on remote workers.

Employee Loyalty

Conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of ADP Canada, the survey found most working Canadians remain loyal to their employers, with nearly one-third (28%) saying their loyalty has increased because of their company’s response to COVID-19. Interestingly, women, were more likely to cite increased loyalty towards their employer than men (33% of women vs 23% of men).

Loyalty to employers also remains strong among unemployed Canadians, with nearly half (47%) of those respondents who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 anticipating returning to work with their previous employers.

Workplace Operations

Employees surveyed also reported tangible impacts on workplace operations. While employees believe that the pandemic has caused many workplaces to increase access to new technology (38%) and health and safety measures (74%), many employees also reported seeing an increase in their workloads (46%).

In addition, over half of respondents (51%) said that COVID-19 has negatively impacted company revenue and over one-third (36%) say it has decreased the number of employees at their workplace. The top four industries reporting negative impacts on revenue were:

  • Retail, food and hospitality
  • Construction and trades
  • Manufacturing, resources, agricultural or field services
  • Business and professional services

Not surprisingly, almost all healthcare workers reported their employer has increased health and safety measures and their job responsibilities have increased. Workers in construction and trades were most likely to say their company’s revenue has decreased due to COVID-19. This sector also reported significant increases in health and safety measures – a key finding from one of the first industries authorized to resume operations. Meanwhile, three in five education workers reported a significant increase in job responsibilities, as well as access to new technology.

“While loyalty to employers remains strong, there’s no doubt that COVID-19 will have lasting impacts on the workforce,” says Heather Haslam, Vice President of Marketing, ADP Canada. “Our series of insight surveys have shown that most employers have adapted swiftly in addition to adopting measures to protect their workforce. Employers can increase the likelihood of retaining their workforce by being transparent about changes, staying empathetic, supportive, and informed by soliciting regular feedback from employees, and continuing to prioritize employee health and safety.”

Returning to the Workplace

COVID-19’s impact on loyalty to employers and workplace operations may have influenced how employees feel about returning to their workplaces. While approximately one third of those surveyed are looking forward to returning to the office, 21 per cent say they are not ready to go back to their place of work. These feelings were particularly common among women, with 29 per cent reporting they are not ready to return, compared to 14 per cent of men.

In addition, 11 per cent say that while they are ready to return to the workplace, they are not confident their employer will have the proper measures in place to protect their safety.

“Across Canada, most workers are entitled to refuse what they reasonably believe is unsafe work without fearing punishment. Workers do not need to prove they are at risk to initiate an unsafe work refusal,” says Natalka Haras, ADP Canada legal counsel. “When addressing a work refusal, it is crucial that an employer diligently follows the investigative and reporting process in the applicable legislation.”

Employers reopening workplaces will need to develop and/or update policies and procedures to address attendance issues and work refusals. These situations must be handled consistently with applicable occupational health and safety, employment standards, privacy, and human rights law. To meet their obligations and reassure employees returning to the workplace, employers will need to follow public health authority and occupational health and safety requirements and guidance.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Workers in Atlantic Canada (24%) were most likely to report decreased loyalty to their employers, compared to the national average of 13 per cent
  • In Quebec, 41 per cent of employed workers reported they are either currently looking or may look for a new job in the next year
  • Meanwhile, workers in Alberta were most likely to think their company has faced decreased revenue (66% vs 51% average) as well as decreased the number of employees (47% vs 38% average) due to the pandemic
  • Nearly seven in 10 B.C. workers (67%) feel COVID-19 has not impacted their loyalty to their employer
  • Respondents from Ontario and Alberta were most likely to say they are more loyal to their employer due to how they handled COVID-19 (32% compared to 28% average)

About ADP Canada’s Workplace Insight series on COVID-19

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a global pandemic affecting many aspects of life, including employment and the Canadian and global economies.

ADP Canada has leveraged the Angus Reid Forum to conduct bi-weekly surveys in order to deliver timely, relevant insights on how workplaces have been impacted by the pandemic, as well as their level of preparedness and how they’ve responded to this international pandemic.

These are the findings of a survey conducted by ADP Canada from May 15 to May 17, 2020 with a representative sample of 939 working Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The survey was conducted in English and French.

About Angus Reid Forum surveys:

The precision of Angus Reid Forum online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About the Angus Reid Forum:

The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.