Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their futures that they would be willing to change companies just to get into a work pension plan, new survey’s show.

A survey by Robert Half found that 47 per cent of Canadians in the accounting and finance, technology, legal, creative and administrative fields feel they are underpaid. This feeling is fuelled be the inability of companies to benchmark salaries and understand local pay rates and from word of mouth when employees speak with recruiters about new career opportunities or with friends who have changed roles and may hear about better pay and perks offered elsewhere.

“To engage top talent, it is imperative that employers stay in touch with local salary and workplace trends,” says Greg Scileppi, president of Robert Half international staffing operations. “Flexible compensation packages that incorporate the benefits, perks and incentives that professionals value most are key to attracting highly-capable workers and building the strong teams companies need to support evolving business needs.”

Another report by investment technology company, Nest Wealth, has found that 69 per cent of Canadian employees are prepared to leave their current job with a company that does not have a savings plan to go to one with a group registered retirement savings plan.

The study shows that 42 per cent of Canadian employees rank money as their greatest stress in life ahead of work, personal health and relationships. This stress is making them lose sleep, reconsider past financial decisions and argue with partners.

Sixty five per cent of men and 75 per cent of women also said they are afraid they aren’t saving enough for retirement. In the survey 82 per cent of Canadians said they believe it is important to have access to a group savings plan at work to build a more secure future and 79 per cent of those who do contribute to a plan feel better informed and know how much they need to save for retirement, helping to alleviate their level of stress.

“The typical notion in North America is that people are not saving enough for their retirement,” Randy Cass, founder and CEO of Nest Wealth said in an interview. “The reality, however, is that with increases in inflation and the cost of living many people just don’t have anything left over at the end of the month. In many cases it’s not really their fault because they’re not able to keep up. It’s a cost of living issue.”

The impact of financial stress Canadians are experiencing actually extends beyond their personal lives. Industry statistics show that unhappy workers cost North American businesses more than $350 billion a year in lost productivity.

Millions of Canadians who work for small and medium-sized (SME) businesses lack access to a group RRSP.

Historically many SMEs have not been able to offer group savings plans because of the complexity and costs of administering them. Eighty-three per cent of SMEs have cited administrative simplicity as a critical factor when deciding to offer a retirement plan for their employees.

Nest Wealth has developed a fully-digital platform for SMEs to offer RRSPs to employees simply and cost-effectively.

“Our study found that the simple act of offering a group RRSP plan can significantly increase employee’s confidence and sense of security both in the workplace and at home,” Cass says. “We know that happy employees collaborate better, make stronger leaders, think more creatively, are willing to take on new challenges and are less absent. By helping to alleviate the stress related to financial security, Canadian companies can have a greater chance to attract and retain talented employees, play a positive role in their employee’s lives, create a healthier company culture and a stronger Canadian workforce.”

Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.

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