Employers Holding Line On Raises

Canadian employees hoping for larger pay raises next year may be disappointed, says a Willis Towers Watson survey. It reports Canadian employers plan to hold the line on budgeted pay raises in 2020, despite low unemployment, a tight labour market, and volatility in the economy. Some employers, however, are projecting slightly larger annual bonuses next year, while 26 per cent of organizations are reporting separate promotional budgets in their efforts to supplement employee salaries, a 35 per cent increase over last year. Salary budgets are not expected to change in 2020. The ‘2019 General Industry Salary Budget Survey’ found increases are expected to hold steady in 2020 for technical and business support employees (2.7 per cent) as well as for production and manual labour employees (2.3 per cent in both years). Professional and client management employees may receive a slightly lower increase next year (2.7 per cent in 2020 versus 2.8 per cent this year). Companies are also budgeting slightly smaller increases for executives (2.4 per cent in 2020 versus 2.6 per cent this year) and management employees (2.7 per cent in 2020 versus 2.8 per cent this year). Virtually all companies (94 per cent) plan to give raises next year, the same percentage as this year; however, more companies are formalizing their promotional increase budget.

Great-West Partners With Teladoc

One in five (20 per cent) of Canadians believe they needed mental healthcare in the past year, yet a third of them did not get adequate help. Without that help, many face incorrect diagnoses and longer recovery periods. To address this critical gap, and in recognition of today’s World Mental Health Day, Great-West Life has launched the ‘Best Doctors Mental Health Navigator’ services from Teladoc Health. “A growing number of people are struggling with mental health issues, having limited or no access to the mental health supports they need,” says Ryan Weiss, vice-president, group customer products and experience, Great-West Life. With this service, he says “we can increase access to specialized care, which has the potential to be life-changing, especially for those who find their condition is not improving despite a current diagnosis or treatment plan. This furthers our purpose in improving the mental, physical, and financial wellbeing of Canadians and extends our long-standing commitment to championing mental health issues in the workplace.” Mental Health Navigator is a collaborative program that draws on a team of clinicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and expert physicians to help get the right diagnosis, outline an action plan, and offer guidance through the mental health system. The service helps those seeking a diagnosis or looking for a review and second opinion on their current treatment plan to find a recommendation specific to their needs.

Recession Paranoia Over-played

Paranoia in the market around an imminent recession is over-played, says Joseph Little, Global Chief Strategist, HSBC Global Asset Management, in his investment outlook for the remainder of 2019. While investors shouldn’t expect a return to the “Goldilocks economy” of 2017 and early 2018, “so far in 2019, investment returns have been strong across the board. Fixed income asset classes are up around 10 per cent and equity markets and alternatives have done even better. But, it hasn’t felt like a bull market environment for investors – in fact, it’s felt like the opposite,” he says. With the signals looking ominous as yield curves invert and a third of global bonds trade on negative interest rates, a “storm of uncertainty” has developed, brewing from cyclical weakness in manufacturing, political uncertainty. and a lack of ammunition from policy makers. So investors need to look at ways to navigate and ride out this storm. “It’s important to understand not just how the macro environment is evolving, but also what is being discounted by the market,” he says.

Structure Of Populations Unprecedented

Lower fertility rates and longer life expectancies are shifting the age structure of populations toward smaller young-age cohorts and larger old-age cohorts, an unprecedented composition, says a Vanguard ‘Research and Commentary Recap.’ Its examination of some implications for the economic building blocks of population, participation, and productivity to develop expectations for the possible effects on overall GDP growth. When evaluating the effects of demographics alone, lower population growth and a higher proportion of elderly will likely have a neutral to negative impact on long-run economic growth. When considering potential second-order effects, however, a shrinking workforce, along with rising wages, can incentivize firms to increase productivity, supporting GDP growth. These demographic projections do not imply decades of persistently low growth; they can be more than offset by unexpected developments in institutional and technological factors, which are the main drivers of economic growth.

People Leave Managers

There’s some truth to the saying, ‘people leave managers, not companies.’ About two in five professionals surveyed in Canada (39 per cent) have quit a job due to a bad boss, says research from Robert Half. “Managers set the tone for the office and have a considerable amount of influence over the daily experiences and satisfaction of their employees ‒ for better or worse,” says David King, senior district director for Robert Half. Bad bosses can cause employees to leave for a variety of reasons. Employees often need quick input and decisions from leaders to move forward with projects. Staff who can’t count on a timely reply are likely to be continually frustrated and may eventually seek greener pastures. Bosses who require constant updates and give overly detailed directions on how work should be done can exasperate employees. It also shows workers that you don’t believe they can make good decisions on their own. As well, those managers on the other end of the scale ‒ the ones who provide vague direction or leave tough decisions to other people all the time ‒ are another reason why good employees leave. Workers want a leader who leads and offers insight they may not have, not someone who just occupies an office.

Norwegian Pension Fund Removes Canadian Energy Names

The largest pension fund in Norway has removed four Canadian energy names from its investment list and says it will no longer put money in companies that derive more than five per cent of their revenue from the oilsands. It will now exclude Cenovus Energy Inc., Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd., and Husky Energy Inc. from investment consideration, along with Russia’s Tatneft PAO. It sold US$58 million worth of stocks and bonds as it reduced its tolerance threshold for companies with interests in the oilsands from 30 per cent to five per cent, matching its limit for coal investments. “By going coal and oilsands free, we are sending a strong message on the urgency of shifting from fossil to renewable energy,” says Sverre Thornes, KLP’s CEO.

Disconnect Exists On Cyber Security

There is a growing disconnect between how prepared Canadian employees feel to deal with cyber security threats and how much training they receive, says a Scalar Decisions survey. It says while 75 per cent of Canadians feel they are prepared to handle cyber security attacks in the workplace, the majority of Canadians (60 per cent) say they have not received any form of cyber security training. From a regional perspective, employees in Atlantic Canada (82 per cent) and British Columbia (80 per cent) feel the most prepared to deal with cyber security threats, while employees in Quebec (64 per cent) and Alberta (74 per cent) feel the least prepared. “Ensuring that employees, regardless of job function, feel properly equipped, educated, and trained to deal with the unique security challenges that Canadian organizations increasingly face is imperative. Employers have a responsibility to provide resources and instill best practices in employees,” says Theo Van Wyk, chief technology officer of Scalar. “As the threat landscape continues to evolve, the lines between workplace and personal security risk blurs; training and preparation is key to help employees become better digital citizens.”

Ruiters Joins Benecaid

Josh Ruiters is executive benefits consultant at Benecaid Health Benefit Solutions Inc. Most recently, he was a benefits consultant with People Corporation.

Finance And Stress Discussed

An ACPM national session hosted by the Atlantic Regional Council will discuss ‘Finance and Stress: Can Plan Sponsors and Administrators ease the pain?’ With 48 per cent of Canadian workers saying they’ve lost sleep because of financial worries, the lack of financial literacy contributes to financial stress which can affect workplace performance, personal relationships, and individual opportunities for an adequate and sustainable retirement. Bill VanGorder, past chair of CARP; Nikki Keating, director of finance at Bell; and Gary Rabbior, president, of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education; will examine the challenges of financial literacy and wellness. It takes place November 12 in Halifax, NS. For information, visit Finance And Stress