Performance Managing the Narcissist

What is a narcissist?

Roughly 1% of the general population suffers from the DSM-5 recognized Narcissistic Personality Disorder. [i] Those with this condition must be supported and accommodated with guidance from medical professionals. Performance management, including various progressive discipline streams, is rarely appropriate under those circumstances. To be clear, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not the focus of our discussion today.

Instead, we focus on trends, traits and behaviour prevalent in today’s workplace culture.

A more significant proportion of the population has narcissistic traits (again, this is in contrast to the DSM-5 disorder). In fact, to varying degrees, narcissistic traits are increasingly dominant within the general population, at a rate currently sitting at 65%[ii].

Evolving Safety and Employer Liability Concerns

This discussion does not intend to come from a place of judgment. Nevertheless, we must not turn a blind eye to those who act on the impulses arising from a narcissistic disposition, negatively affecting their behaviour towards others. This behaviour can create significant workplace challenges, resulting in psychological and emotional harm which is possibly compensable via Workers’ Compensation legislation. This dysregulated and harmful behaviour is what we intend to discuss today.

Possible Causes,  and the Self-Esteem Movement Connection

So, what is narcissism? Narcissism is described as “an exaggerated opinion of one’s contribution to society or group, otherwise known as excessive self-love or even egocentric personality. The Psychology Dictionary describes narcissists as ‘[i]ndividuals who express a strong self-love and exaggerated self-opinions.’” [iii]

Many may assume a causal relationship between the pervasiveness of social media and increased narcissism in North American society. Given our present-day context, many are under the impression that the prevalence of social media is the primary factor in society’s narcissistic trend. Studies show that while social media may indeed be a platform for the narcissist, social media is not the cause of the trait. [iv] Studies show that narcissism has more to do with social networks closer to home, with tendencies normally ingrained by the time one is thirteen years of age.

Academics and clinicians realize that increased narcissistic traits in society are partly due to the self-esteem school of thought. Unfortunately, this doctrine is not grounded in being better but instead in thinking one is better than others. [v] The self-esteem school of thought was pervasive for roughly 20 years, and even supplanted into North American school curriculums.

Understanding the Narcissist

Narcissists tend to think highly of themselves and want others to do the same. Furthermore, they also want to feel superior, while exerting power over others. They are highly manipulative and deploy tactics to get what they want. When confronted with barriers to these objectives, they often become angry and resentful and seek retaliation.

Britannica elaborates that the “Narcissists’ positive but insecure self-views lead them to be more attentive and reactive to feedback […] However, not just any response or feedback from others is important to narcissists; they are eager to learn that others admire and look up to them. Narcissists value admiration and superiority more than being liked and accepted. Studies find that narcissists’ self-esteem depends upon the extent to which they feel admired. Moreover, narcissists pursue admiration from others by attempting to manipulate the impressions they create […]They make self-promoting and self-aggrandizing statements and attempt to solicit regard and compliments from those around them. They also respond with anger and resentment when they feel threatened by others. They are more likely to respond aggressively on such occasions and derogate those who threaten them, even when such hostile responding jeopardizes the relationship.” [vi]

The Narcissist at Work

So now, let us set the stage for the narcissist at work.

Narcissists are typically self-centred, lack empathy and understanding, and have disproportionate, aggressive or passive-aggressive reactions to criticism. Narcissists often expect things to go their way and may act out, even retaliate, if colleagues do not reinforce their desire for special status and treatment within the group. They will often not hesitate to depart from past or present truth to defend their self-worth—their self-esteem.

Also, as part of the ruse, Narcissists like to be associated with higher-status people” [vii]. They seek to associate with those superior in title or status within the organization and treat those higher in the organization chart much differently than they would equal or subordinates. This inconsistency can sometimes tend to create a “blind spot” even for seasoned managers— at least for a while.

Summaries from Experts

As Industrial Relations and Human Resources practitioners, we are not psychologists.

We necessarily rely on the research of others versus personal expertise. Kindly indulge as we pause to share a few summaries about narcissism, directly from experts.

Manfred Ket de Vries writes, “Furthermore, narcissistic individuals have a strong sense of entitlement. When they don’t receive the special treatment that they believe they deserve, they become very impatient or get quite angry. Given their self-serving mindset, it’s difficult for them to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. Empathy doesn’t come naturally. As narcissists are quite thin-skinned, they have difficulty handling criticism; they very quickly feel hurt, overreact, and get defensive.”[viii]

The narcissist would rewrite history, as Theodore Millon put it, “…to freely transform failures into successes, and to construct lengthy and intricate rationalizations that inflate their self-worth or justify what they believe is their right…” [VII] Theodore Millon and Roger Davis pointed out that narcissists “…remember the past as they would have wanted it to occur, not as it actually happened.” [ix]

Two review articles in the American Journal of Psychiatry (Russ et al., 2008, and Caligor et al., 2015) note that NPD may…encompasses three major subtypes, with varying degrees of clinical severity and prognosis…[the less severe]…is less likely to have psychiatric comorbidity and may not necessarily meet the functional impairment criterion for NPD, except during periodic crises or unexpected failures (such as losing a job or undergoing a divorce). They appear to be outwardly successful and generally maintain their ego stability, but they still maintain an essential NPD personality structure; issues with entitlement and self-centeredness may lead to interpersonal issues and exploitative, unempathetic behaviours.”

Containing the Narcissist

If you notice an employee acting in this way, remember it is a complex issue. A multi-pronged approach will likely be necessary. Before we get into coaching tactics, let us spend a moment on containment. This is essentially harm reduction. It is crucial to keep in mind that it is our other employees who will most likely suffer the wrath of the unmitigated narcissist.

There is power in numbers. Creating a strong team environment can neutralize the behaviour and set a stage for encouraging peer feedback, supported by leadership. Feedback from the group dynamic may be a more receptive forum for the narcissist than feedback from one individual. [x] Safe, group work settings are environments in which those with narcissistic tendencies will respond. Their need for affirmations will drive their engagement with the group’s peer regulation and cultural norms. [xi]. However, it is important to avoid putting narcissists on teams with teammates they can dominate. That would allow the behaviour to fester and will only positively reinforce the undesirable behaviour. [xii]

Our job is to manage the narcissist while maintaining the physical and psychological safety of the rest of our team… “a manager’s biggest worry should not be losing their narcissist; it should be that other team members will be the ones to resign, tired of the way narcissists need to be catered to. It’s hard to deal with a narcissist’s sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, and need to feel special.” [xiii] Until the narcissist learns to regulate their behaviour consistently, it will be a precarious balancing act to manage the narcissist, protect their safety, and inspire patience within the rest of the team.

When things go awry…

As is normal through working within an organization, micro-blunders happen. While (fortunately) not all places have office politics akin to contact sports, even the tamest environments involve:

    • Inadvertent slights between co-workers;

    • Unequal or inequitable distribution of credit or gratitude for jobs well done; or,

    • Assigning real or perceived blame when outcomes differ from expectations.

Offices are not sanitary lab environments. They are human and thus, messy (some more than others). Real or perceived slights will happen. It is not a question of if but rather, when.

Those prone to narcissistic tendencies, who lack the mindfulness and coping skills required to regulate reactions, will start to run into trouble when these slights occur – even under reasonably healthy workplace conditions. This is when reactions become disproportionate, and it is when work colleagues are more likely to notice disruptions from the individual.

These everyday slights are likely overly felt by the narcissist. As author Kristin Neff explains, “Any threat to [their] mental representation of who [they] are, therefore, feels like an actual, visceral threat, and [they] respond as powerfully as a soldier defending [their] very life.” [xiv]When narcissists receive put-downs from others, their retaliation can be fast and furious, even violent. Narcissistic anger serves an essential function for the narcissist: it deflects negative attention away from the self toward others, who can then be blamed for all the dark emotions being experienced.” [xv] And, as James McDonald Jr (a lawyer) pointed out, “When the narcissist ultimately fails, the fall will be long and hard. Litigation is likely to result, so it is essential that the narcissist’s performance problems, disruptive conduct, and abuse of others be thoroughly documented as they occur.” [xvi]

Organizations and managers will need to adopt thoughtful and deliberate practices when confronted with these situations.

Performance Managing

Managers: Prevent the Narcissist from Hiding Out on Your Blind Side

How the narcissist treats their superiors often differs remarkably from how they treat those lateral to them and also from how they treat their subordinates. Managers must be on-guard for the possibility of one of their direct reports hiding out in their “blindside.”

Suppose an employee always seems to have the correct answers for you but consistently experiences relationship trouble from co-workers and their subordinates. It would be wise to reserve judgment and do a little investigation.

Narcissists are people-pleasers to those in elevated positions, so they will be skilled in sending their manager comforting signals about their performance. There are reasons why organizations promote narcissists before their true character becomes apparent. While it is an overused phrase, “trust but verify” makes sense in this case. It is worth investing effort to understand the perspectives of coworkers or subordinates who may be having a difficult time with your employee. The last thing you want to do is enable a narcissist to sit on your blind side, operating under your authority, while leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

Be wary of requests for special treatment. It is a common sign you are dealing with a narcissist, and giving in will only reinforce the behaviour. Also, conceding will create resentment among other team members.

If performance interventions are required, take a structured approach and determine what performance management or discipline stream you are on. Stick to a linear discipline stream unless new facts come to light that inspires you to change course. A transparent, and frankly boring, performance management approach will be helpful later. If possible, remain on a linear progressive discipline path (Step 1, 2, 3). Take notes and keep a personal file. These files don’t lend themselves well to culminating incident justifications, mainly due to the subjectivity associated with interpersonal strife. If things go sideways, it is likely to get litigious.

We recommend against reinforcing behaviour by succumbing to the narcissists’ desire for special treatment[xvii], maintaining a principle and rules-based approach, and keeping to straightforward performance management messaging.

Failure to do this leaves you vulnerable. When you become a threat to the narcissist, they will retaliate against you and exploit any weaknesses you have revealed to them while handling the file.

Having the Discussion

State the Issue, knowing it will likely be taken very personally (Have an HR staff person Witness the exchange)

When confronting the narcissist, be direct. Take extra effort to separate the behaviour from the person as you explain your concern. Example: “You bring much skill and passion to the team. Reacting versus responding and talking at or about people instead of to them is causing a great deal of friction. That behaviour is creating problems for our department and preventing us from meeting our objectives. Your gossipping and emotional, impulsive responses must stop. We need you to take a moment before responding to gather yourself. We need you to raise concerns directly with your co-workers and avoid gossiping. Can you make these adjustments?”

Describe what you will MONITOR and Book a Follow-Up Meeting

Example: “Unless something comes up from a safety or ethical perspective, I want concerns you have with others to be brought to my attention with the other person present so that we can all talk about it together. That way, you can also see how I communicate while we get out of the practice of talking about,  rather than to our colleagues. I will try to provide a good example for you. Also, I will drop in to observe a few of your team meetings over the next couple of months. Let’s get together in May to check in and review where we are at with this. If you have questions, want coaching or support in making this behavioural change, please drop in.”

Continue to check in, and offer positive feedback whenever the manager sees authentic effort on the part of the employee to change. Remember, people usually exhibit and cement narcissistic tendencies by thirteen years of age. It will take effort and focus for the employee to adjust their responses and communication style. For instances where behaviour is not changing and is causing safety concerns or psychological harm to work colleagues, escalate dispassionately using sound progressive discipline practices. Managers need to protect themselves by keeping good records and having witnesses available for critical discussions where possible.

Try Not to Further Oppress the Oppressed

Lateral Violence and its Coexistence with Maladaptive Narcissistic Behaviour

We recommend that companies and managers consider the broader issue of lateral violence. This type of violence may be suppressed through preventative measures and talking spaces. If unmanaged, it may have to be addressed as an after-the-fact mitigating factor weighed against Occupational Health and Safety obligations to ensure employees are free from physical and psychological harm.

There is no doubt a significant overlap between the maladaptive narcissistic behaviour and “Lateral violence [which] is a term that describes the way people in positions of powerlessness…direct their dissatisfaction inward toward each other, toward themselves, and those less powerful than themselves…Lateral violence is believed to occur worldwide in minorities and particularly Aboriginal peoples…” [xviii] “Lateral violence is the expression of rage and anger, fear and terror that can only be safely vented upon those closest to us when we are being oppressed.” In other words, victims of a situation of dominance turn on each other instead of confronting the system that oppresses them. The oppressed become the oppressors. [xix] It is also “a form of bullying that includes gossip, shaming and blaming others, backstabbing and attempts to socially isolate others.” [xx]

 This is particularly accurate in instances of colonialism, trauma, and intergenerational trauma; these must be addressed and recognized as complex issues. “Research suggests that as many as 95% of bullying [experienced by Aboriginal People] occurs amongst Aboriginal people themselves.” [xxi] This should not be surprising as, “[t]he roots of lateral violence lie in colonization, oppression, intergenerational trauma, powerlessness and ongoing experiences of racism and discrimination, factors mainstream bullying programs do not take into account.[xxii]…[Society]…can (inadvertently or deliberately) create the environment for lateral violence through a lack of recognition and engagement and by pitting groups against each other.[xxiii]

Employers need to look inward to check their organizational health. Have an honest look to see if factors at work inflame or exacerbate the issue. While employers must address bullying and psychological harm individually, the systemic aspects will only improve through holistic organizational, community and individual approaches.

Getting a handle on Lateral Violence

Within the organization, and preferably before and separate from specific occurrences, “[n]aming lateral violence is the first step towards exerting control over it, and [is in itself] an act of prevention.[xxiv] Therefore, awareness campaigns, communications, sharing circles, and peer discussions can significantly improve and de-risk this issue. “To tackle lateral violence, Richard J. Frankland suggests that you “out it. Name it for what it is, a destroyer of Indigenous culture and life. Publicly admit it is happening and then take steps and measures to deal with it… Find ways to deal with it, end it, eradicate it from our lives and communities.” [xxv]. “Others suggest to apply traditional ways of resolving disputes, such as learning and healing circles and shared care.” [xxvi]

More companies are “being made aware of lateral violence and the effects it can have on their staff, as well as the overall performances of employees. Businesses are taking this problem seriously, and people who are caught engaging in acts of lateral violence could find themselves being reprimanded or dismissed from their positions.” [xxvii] “Awareness of the problem is the first step in resolving it and, like sexual harassment, lateral violence should be discussed with employees so that they are aware of what it is and how to report it if they are victims of it or see it happening. Preventing lateral violence will help create a more harmonious atmosphere on the job.” [xxviii]


Narcissism is prevalent in today’s workplace, with an estimated 65% of the general population estimated to possess narcissistic traits to varying degrees. It is almost the case that if you can’t spot the narcissist in the room, you’re probably it.

Promoting and allowing space for healthy discussions within your workplace, ensuring all employees’ safety, including psychological safety, assists managers and companies in meeting this issue with maturity and compassion.

Workforce Delivery Inc. thanks you for your time today and wishes you all the best on your journey.


[ii] Self-Compassion, pg. 147



[v] Self-Compassion, pg. 140




[ix]Millon, T. and Davis, R. (2000), Personality Disorders in Modern Life, Wiley, New York, p. 294. In





[xiv] Neff, Kristin. Self-Compassion (p. 151). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

[xv] Neff, Kristin. Self-Compassion (pp. 143-144). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

[xvi] McDonald, J. J. (2005), The Narcissistic Plaintiff, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 4, p. 97 in













Unusual Suspects Commodify Labour Due to Talent Supply Shortages

Reactions to Talent Supply Shortages

I often interact with labour leaders regarding talent supply. Recently I noticed a pattern among specific labour leaders and progressive commentators that concerns me.

Many notice a shortage of talent supply. That is a fact, and paying heed to that is necessary.

What gives rise to concern is some leaders’ reaction to it. Two often-heard reactions are:

  1. Union bargaining power has increased due to the shortage, so employers must simply pay more, and
  2. How dare you think about supplementing the supply with temporary foreign workers.

Labour Is Not a Commodity

Talent supply is not a commodity because:

  1. Labour ought not to be a commodity, and
  2. Labour is not a commodity!

Since 1948, the International Labour Organization’s fundamental principle has been that labour is not a commodity, which is in clause I(a) of the ILO Constitution.

It seems strange for some progressives to treat talent supply like a commodity. There is a fundamental and widely held principle among progressives and the population not to do so. Society should not treat people as though they are commodities or widgets. Yet many union leaders and progressive pundits declare that wages need to increase simply because of a shortage, as though wage rates should fluctuate as oil prices do.

Now to our second point. People are not commodities. Increasing wages does not increase the talent supply. People are not “produced,” and talent supply is not increased by simply adding a third line at the factory. It is not the same as supply-chain shortages resulting from a lack of microchips for the sale of automobiles. You can up the production on microchips, but that is not the case for increasing the supply of people. Yet, some labour leaders and employers behave as though that is the case.

Talent supply is increased in the short term by increasing productivity, adding hours, or immigration (permanent and temporary). Economies increase talent capacity over the medium and long term by increasing productivity, innovation and, through technological advances, increasing the population, training and aligning a proportion of education systems towards supporting talent needs.

Solution-based Responses, Not Reactions

The country needs thoughtful, grounded solutions. These include, yes, in some cases, labour market (wage) adjustments but also:

  • Immigration;
  • Access to temporary talent supply from out of the country;
  • Innovation;
  • Task-shifting;
  • Task-sharing;
  • Leveraging the gig-economy; and,
  • Leveraging alternative talent supply sources.

Human Resources, Unions, and Many Employers React Instead of Respond

For years we have seen the demographic crisis coming, and it is now upon us. The talent supply situation is a function of many factors. Our inadequate response and surprise to this foreseen event mark an epic failure for labour organizations and employers alike in many industries and occupations.

Some unions kept membership intake low to ensure their stagnant and aging members were in short supply. In construction, we should note that 7-8% unemployment is needed simply to accommodate the movement between jobs. Some hiring halls have been planning to fail by default for a long time. Plant, transportation, warehousing, manufacturing, facility, and public sector unions push back on equity, diversity and inclusion efforts out of a protectionist stance.

Employers have relied too heavily on recruiters to drive their talent supply strategy. Comparing a recruiter and a well-rounded, degreed HR professional is akin to comparing a doorbell installer to an electrician. A doorbell installer can install doorbells faster than anyone. However, you would not ask a doorbell installer to diagnose and repair a problem with your electrical panel. Employers have been asking recruiters to diagnose their talent supply woes. Recruiters are capable of identifying and describing symptoms but are not usually capable of getting to root causes and developing solutions.

Employers, unions, and human resource professionals must act more carefully and professionally.

See Adverse Reactions to Temporary Workers for What They Are

Adverse reactions to responsibly designed temporary foreign worker programs are attempts to exacerbate talent supply concerns and create a crisis for self-serving ends. The same groups who push back against temporary foreign worker programs also push back against diversity, inclusion and equity programs to push themselves up by pushing others down.

Respectfully submitted,

Sam Kemble

Executive Operations Officer

With People, Inc.

April Alberta Labour Market Update

April Alberta Labour Market Update

April Alberta Labour market update:

Private Sector Surges, but Jobs in Goods Continues to Fall

Private, service-sector jobs continue to surge with 17,500 additional jobs in April. Employment in goods sectors declines for the third month, losing 1400 more jobs in April.

Jobs in trades, healthcare, mining and oil and gas, professional, scientific and technical, finance, and education remain significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, services and manufacturing jobs have increased to levels greater than that experience pre-pandemic. 

The Alberta economy is transitioning towards being more service-based. We expect mismatches of skill sets and drastic swings in displaced workers moving from industrial to service work in the coming months and years.  

Unemployment and Labour Participation Rates

Alberta’s labour market unemployment rate declined to 5.9%, and the labour market participation also declined, dropping to 69.2%.

Average Wage Rates and Earnings

Average wages ($33.25) are up 1.8% year over year, recovering slightly from the significant drop in 2020-2021. On the other hand, average earnings are up by 1% from last year. 

Collective bargained/negotiated wage settlements trend at 0.9% for 2021, 0.9% for 2022, 1.9% for 2023 and 1.7% for 2024. 

Increased operational costs leave less room for wage increases, and employers navigate tremendous uncertainty in today’s market. This reality creates the need for nuanced communications between employers and employees as each experienced increased costs to run their lives and operations. 

 Canada Benchmarks

Meanwhile, Canada’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2%, and average wages increased 3.3% yearly.

 Job Vacancies

Job vacancy rates are at 4.5%. Focused areas such as services and IT and general labour associated with civil work suffer staff shortages. 


Alberta’s population growth is at 1.4% year to date. Increased immigration and access to temporary foreign workers are required to meet Alberta’s labour market demands. 

 The shortage of civil trades will eventually be the bottleneck for work opportunities for those involved in other industrial work. It is no longer good enough to look at a project from the standpoint of it being shovel-ready as a whole. Due to the uneven distribution of vacancies and unemployment rates across trades, it is necessary to determine what phase of a project will be shovel-ready. 

Decoupled: Wages and CPI are on a break from one another.

CPI and Wages: With CPI trending between 3.1% and 3.7%, are wages following suit? The answer is no. 

CPI is inflated due to:

  • disruption in energy transition, 
  • increased government spending,
  • cash injections from the Bank of Canada, and 
  • pandemic shifts, 

all of which increase the risk for employers and do not translate to job creators being able to afford increased wages for their employees.

The increased business risk driving increased CPI has significant implications for wage adjustment considerations and collective agreement negotiations.

The path of least resistance, and at times lazy approach labour relations and human resources practitioners take when considering wage adjustment, is blindly following CPI increases. That is precisely the type of thinking that reduces the confidence executive leadership has in labour relations and human resources personnel and reduces their usefulness and effectiveness to the organization.

Wages and collective agreement targets must be driven by fulsome reviews of such adjustments’ affordability, sustainability, and prudence. This analysis and determination must ensure that operations and employment continues to be a going concern, presently and into the future.

CPI and wages are not automatically linked, nor should they be. Human resources and labour relations practitioners would be wise to test the business fundamentals before making promises they can’t keep with their union counterparts. Granting unsustainable wags increases helps no one if it results in shrinking operations and layoffs.

Please visit our home page or our news and knowledge centre for more information.

Respectfully submitted,

Sam Kemble

Executive Operating Officer

With People Inc.

(780) 886-1679

[email protected]

Alberta Labour Wage Settlements and Negotiations Update -Q1 2022

Alberta Labour Wage Settlements and Negotiations Update -Q1 2022

The Current Economic Environment Introduces Head-Scratcher Interactions at Collective Bargaining Tables

Several economic pushes and pulls create head-scratcher moments at collective bargaining tables as negotiators assess:
  • where the fair deal resides, and
  • how best to communicate that to rank and file members.
This phenomenon presents unique challenges for negotiations conducted by human resources and labour relations practitioners, and union leadership.

Oil’s Influence on Negotiations

Oil prices soften to $100.28, and the WCS price differential increases to $11.90/barrel. Alberta’s overall economic activity is up 4.5% year over year, bouncing somewhat from 2019 and 2020 depressed levels. Overall, these factors send positive messages to negotiators currently in collective bargaining.

Employment Impact on Collective Bargaining

Unemployment decreased to 6.8%, with a 69.4% labour market participation rate and 1.1% population growth yearly. While, on the surface, negotiators view this as a positive trend in collective bargaining, they need to realize there is significant displacement within the labour market. 

Inflation and Negotiations

Those engaged in collective bargaining must realize that inflation pressures are not the result of a growing, healthy economy. Instead, it is the result of commodity pressures, supply chain issues, government policy, regulation, taxes and spending. All of which increase the risk profile for employers.

Earnings, Average Wages and Collective Bargaining

Average weekly earnings are up 3%. A significant portion of that increase results from overtime and not hourly wage increases. Average hourly wages remain unchanged (0% increase) year over year.
The split between earnings, CPI/inflation, and wage rates present an inconvenient truth for negotiators currently engaged in collective bargaining. Now is not the time for a significant wage increase, except for perhaps the lowest earners – to offset growing costs of essential expenses.

Collective Agreement Negotiations

So how have negotiators at collective bargaining tables responded? Alberta’s February Bargaining Update shows 2022 settlements averaging 0.91%, 2023 settlements averaging 1.87%, and 2024 settlements averaging 1.70%.

The gap between inflation and wages is symptomatic of a great deal of increased risk, unfriendly business policy and environment, and policies with the stated goal to make certain activities more expensive for Canadians in support of greening the economy. These upward pressures are not the result of a confidence-inspiring, predictable and healthy growing economy, so employers are appropriately cautious and reluctant to lock into structural operational cost increases.
Respectfully submitted,
Sam Kemble
Executive Operations Officer,
With People Inc.
(780) 886-1679

Canada Labour Market and Employment Update, March 11, 2022

Canada Labour Market

The Canadian labour market increased jobs to pre-pandemic levels in February. Employers did this by adding 337,000 jobs across the country. Factors contributing to the economic surge in jobs recovery included Health authorities relaxed Omicron restrictions based on case count and hospitalization trends. This relaxation enabled employers to open more services and increase operating levels, permitting them to hire and rehire workers on layoffs. 
Public places and spaces open up. Services sectors surged, accounting for much of the gains. This trend is clearly reflected in a 12.6% month-over-month employment increase in the following sectors: 

The private Sector Leads the way in the Canadian Labour Market

Private sector-led growth accounted for 347,000 jobs added in the Canadian labour market. These gains were not evenly distributed, with a high proportion of growth experienced in Ontario and Quebec and prairie provinces lagging in recovery with higher unemployment rates.
Meanwhile, public sector employment levels remain flat. This trend makes sense as public sector employment remained steady during the pandemic and did not experience the layoffs many in the private sector experienced.

Self-Employment Cools

After an initial surge of increased self-employment, many Canadians realize the self-employment life is not for them or as fruitful as imagined. They revert to seeking more traditional employment opportunities.

Canada Labour Market Equity  Improves but Gaps Remain.

Canada’s labour market achieved record-high employment participation rates for core working-age women, and Indigenous and BIPOC populations, but equity gaps remain.
However, older workers are not experiencing the jobs gain recovery and risk being left behind as the employment market transitions, changing skill requirements, and ageism takes a toll on opportunities for this demographic.

No Great Resignation in Canada

Unlike in the United States, mass resignations are not expected in Canada’s labour market, as employees and employers return to work in on-premise, remote or hybrid formats. Employers take a thoughtful approach, offering options and time to adjust to proposed changes.

The Implications

These factors impact the Canada Labour Market in many ways, including adding uncertainty among employees, confusion among recruiters, frustration among hiring managers, and increased risk for employers.

Employees notice their purchasing power shrink and consume news with mixed or nuanced messages about inflation. Messages surrounding the causes of inflation are politically torqued with a spin—objective and unbiased information on the topic is challenging to find. Anxiety is created not only by actual and perceived loss but also by a fear of missing out as news of a tight-labour market comes from loud and vocal stakeholders. Employees agonize over whether they have pressed hard enough to get more favourable terms with their employer and in the labour market. Speculation over the expected length and extent of current inflation levels creates more uncertainty about what people should pursue and how they should position themselves to navigate these conditions.

Recruiters receive cold responses and combative candidates with aggressive positions regarding salary expectations. There is movement in the market, and a mismatch of skills, uncertainty, and physical isolation create communication challenges during the exchanges. As recruiters fall short of meeting fill rates, they seek to increase terms and conditions. Increased rates do not create more candidates when looking in the wrong places. Increased rates do create structural cost increases for businesses.

Hiring managers are frustrated by difficulty managing budgets and risk and delays in recruiting, and employees with demands at times with overtures to leave.

Employers face increased input costs, downward price pressure, uncertain financials, and rough market conditions. The Canada Labour Market, if approached without foresight and sophistication by employers, recruiters and hiring managers, has the potential to exacerbate inflationary pressures as what occurred in the United States.

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