Career Champions: Helping employees and job seekers reflect on their career plan (Host: BC)
In normal circumstances, after a milestone, challenge, or success, we often find ourselves thinking back and wondering what we could have done better, what went well, and what different decisions could have been made. In the wake of COVID-19, or any large-scale event of this nature where people have had time to reflect, it is then no surprise to see data pointing to “mass resignations”. For example, a survey by Lighthouse Labs found that 57% of Canadians would change careers if given the opportunity, which for many is the pandemic.
Employees’ expectations have shifted as a result of the pandemic. IBM’s global survey shows that employees prioritize work-life balance (51%), career advancement opportunities (43%), compensation and benefits (41%), employer ethics and values (41%) and continuous learning opportunities (36%). Similarly, the pandemic has impacted student and prospective employee expectations, increasing demand for career-oriented programs, internship and post-graduate work opportunities, career counseling resources, and upskilling courses. A survey of 6,500 students and graduates found that the pandemic has caused about 30% to change their career plans, while just under 40% stated that they are still uncertain.
These changing expectations and increasing self-reflection are not a bad omen however. Reflection helps us gain insight from past experiences and better understand our own strengths, skills gaps, passions, and aspirations. Reflecting as a group or organization also enhances the lessons learned by exploring additional perspectives which can often reveal new insights and innovative solutions.
Introduced by Florence Rousseau, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications, Magnet and moderated by Chantal Brine, CEO, EnPoint, the event featured panelists:
We encourage you to check out the organizations listed above and watch the recording of the session to form your own opinion on what stands out for you.
Here is our summary of key takeaways from the session:
1. What comes to mind when you think about ‘building future ready communities’?
As we think about our futures, we need to have a more collectivist lens and recognize that we’re all part of something bigger. The pandemic has shown us that we’re not just individuals, we live within a community and we have responsibility to one another.
We need to all be builders and have that building mentality and mindset; we need to co-create and build together for our communities.
CERIC recognizes that collaboration across the career and workforce ecosystem is critically important. They engage and connect employers, educators, government, career and employment providers, and others in the programs, research and work that they do.
Manulife takes great pride in being an employer of choice; they dedicate time and resources into identifying their employee’s needs and improving the employee experience. With access to 33 million customers and over 13,000 employees in Canada alone, Manulife has a great opportunity to make an impact. Despite being a large organization, when the pandemic started, Manulife moved quickly to have 98% of their 33,000 people globally working remotely.
With everything moving to a virtual environment, there’s more need for community.
In-person conferences, events and activities bring people together for a period of time before they go apart; but with virtual gathering you may not be physically together, but you are not apart. With the sight of community becoming more continuous, so do our relationships with others.
Community doesn’t just happen; you have to support, direct and create ‘rules’ so that people understand how they can contribute and gain support from others.
Brainstorm Strategy Group recognizes the importance of being resilient and adaptable; they work with post-secondary institutes and have seen first hand the amazing change in the classroom, as well as in student services/programs that had to transition to a virtual delivery.
The efforts put in by these institutes were recognized by the students as many students reported feeling more cared for than ever before. Student relationships with organizations also improved as they felt a more authentic and personal connection interacting with people whose kids were running around in the background, or who were in their kitchen or living room.
2. What is the most memorable “success story” or “lesson learned” you’ve experienced when you think about how your organization/group has contributed to ‘building future ready communities’?
Manulife switched to a digital work model during the pandemic to better serve their customers. To achieve a successful transition to ‘work-from-home’, they recognized that they needed to ensure that their employees were willing to go with them on that journey and be a part of the change.
Manulife coaches leaders to be their authentic self, to be real and create trust and understanding with employees so that they feel psychological safety at work.
Virtual video meetings where senior leaders had their kids running around, or were sitting with their dogs on their lap, or had their cat crawl all over their keyboard, helped do just that as Manulife saw a shocking boost in employee engagement throughout the pandemic.
CERIC has seen success in being able to help Canadians navigate the pandemic from a career to work perspective. In 2020, CERIC started conducting Pulse Surveys that asked stakeholders questions such as: “How are you being impacted by the pandemic? How has this impacted the deliver of your services? Are you working remotely? What kind of technology supports are you using and have found helpful?”
Conversations about building future ready communities and the future of work are not just happening in Canada, they are happening internationally. CERIC saw opportunity in the disruption brought on by the pandemic; they used digitalization to intentionally make their virtual learning (such as through Cannexus) more internationally accessible.
CERIC also celebrates career development professionals that had to quickly pivot, some with minimal required infrastructure, to deliver their services online. These career professionals work with communities and help ensure that our labor force is healthy, connected, fulfilled, and going in the right direction. They played a very critical role in mitigating the sense of uncertainty and disconnect brought on by the pandemic by creating a connection back into the workforce.
Brainstorm Strategy Group has seen a theme in people adopting a “giving mindset” and embracing their role in sharing personal and professional learnings by speaking at panels/events, teaching a course, etc.
The virtual environment has helped reduce costs, while increasing the access to a large number of individuals with different ideas, perspectives and expertise.
The pandemic has allowed organizations to better understand and appreciate the value of their people.
Pre-pandemic, unemployment was record high; during the pandemic, we saw the loss of jobs, before it picked up; now, demographics show that we’re going to be short on talent for the long term. Immigration has slowed down in Canada, and the competition for talent is on a global scale. Employers need to be adaptable and improve the employee experience to attract talent.
The pandemic has also helped shed light on the importance of understanding the diverse voices of Canada. Brainstorm’s Research and Insights look into various workplace topics such as: How do we understand the needs of different individuals? How do we work better with and support these individuals? How do we make our workplace more attractive? How do we make our workplace more inclusive?
3. In your view, what do you see as the primary role that each of us has to play in building future ready communities?
Be active and connected; we need to recognize the communities that we operate in are bigger than just ourselves and our organizations.
This idea of building future ready communities is reflected in CERIC’s two strategic mandates:
(1) Promoting career development as a priority for public good: CERIC improves public understanding of the importance of career development, i.e, why it matters, what are the benefits, and what are the possibilities. They do this through conducting research and then communicating this research and the value of career development. They also mobilize advocates throughout the whole career development ecosystem.
(2) Building career development mindsets: CERIC aims to expand the body of knowledge that supports lifelong learning, professional development, career professionals, and people that are connecting to career conversations. They build skills, knowledge and mindsets by counseling and coaching people around career issues, and by developing training and resources that better equip career professionals for the future of work.
Move from a competition mindset to a collaborative mindset; the sharing of knowledge and resources is critical.
The problems that we’re talking about today are universal problems. While organizations may compete for talent, the ones who are most successful are the ones who share the most.
From a corporate perspective, we [employers] have a responsibility because we impact employees, customers and communities. Manulife has launched a new Impact Agendafocusing on three major pillars of: Empowering health and well-being to support the journey towards a better life, driving inclusive economic opportunities to create a more even playing field for all, and accelerating a sustainable future to preserve the planet we all share.
From an employee or talent perspective, we have a responsibility to accept that the way we have done things is not always the way we’re going to do things moving forward.
Change isn’t always easy, but we need to be prepared to continuously unlearn and relearn to make a shift toward a better future of work.
From a learning and talent journey perspective, historically we have primarily followed linear career progression – the corporate ladder – but today’s environment is more complex.
To navigate today’s world of work, we must be willing to learn and do things differently than we ever have before.
Take action; it’s a different world and dynamic in the market and labor force. Invest in people, invest in the structures, and invest in the programs. Think about how you make the workplace enticing? What non-financial incentives are you offering that helps your employees grow as individuals?
CERIC’s 2021 National Business Survey found that while 72% of employers agreed that they had a responsibility to provide career management programs to their employees, only 27% were actually doing it.
To employers, instead of taking a competitive approach, take a community development approach. Sometimes employers are hesitant to provide training because they are worried that their employees may get poached. However, when employees get trained, it’s good for the community and the knowledge stays within the community.
From an employee perspective, carefully evaluate the organization you’re working for, consider the direction the organization is moving, and see if your values align.
4. What are your thoughts and perspectives on helping organizations reflect and move forward post-pandemic in service of the organization’s objectives and employees? How do we prevent falling back into pre-pandemic attitudes? (Audience Question)
Like an elastic band, a lot of organizations will snap back to the way things were unless the lessons learned are retained and applied.
We need to be careful that we don’t forget where we were and what we were doing. We only move forward by recognizing what’s working and what isn’t, and learning from past experiences.
While organizational goals may look the same or similar (to pre-pandemic times), the road to get there may look different post-pandemic. Reiterate your goals and what you are trying to achieve, then invite employees to voice their perspective on how they want to get there.
Many organizations are shutting down services due to labor-shortages; we need to recognize that this is a long-term issue. We need to invest in the employee experience; we need to understand what motivates employees and job seekers, and support them throughout their journey.
We need to guide and support employees and leaders in the transition from where we are today to where we want to go in the future. We need to help them be comfortable in being a little uncomfortable, and encourage them to think about the “why”.
All employers are not built equally and so ‘going back’ means different things to different employers. A lot of times “going back” is about working remotely but only 30-35% of employers were able to make this transition.
5. What are some resources, books, Ted Talks, or podcasts, that have been instrumental in shaping your view on the future of work?
One of the main take-aways from the panel discussion is the importance of individuals being able to see themselves within an organization and within communities. The pandemic has created an opportunity to grow and create a more inclusive workforce. Communities need to be built in a collaborative effort rather than a competitive one. Supporting employees and job seekers in their career development and progression not only helps the individual but also the community as a whole. We need to grow together by adopting a “giving mindset” and sharing our personal and professional learnings and experiences with others in the community.
Guiding discussion questions:
What steps has your organization taken to help employees and job seekers in the community reflect on and build their career plan? What’s worked? What’s failed horribly?
What benchmarks, success stories and/or resources discussed by the panelists can you adapt/apply to your organization and/or community?
Have you found a particularly helpful resource related to the theme of helping organizations, employees and job seekers reflect on the future of work that we can share?
Graham Donald is one of North America’s leading experts on attracting, recruiting, and engaging students and graduates. He founded Brainstorm Strategy Group in 2003 where he supports major employers and post-secondary institutions’ success through research, training, and strategic consulting. His clients include KPMG, PwC, University of Toronto, Deloitte, GE, McGill University, HSBC, UBC, George Brown College, and many others.
He was Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) and the founder of Canada’s first job board for students, Campus WorkLink. He has also held leadership roles at Workopolis, Simply Hired, and Day Communications. He received both his BA and MBA from the University of Toronto.
Brainstorm Strategy Group Inc.
Brainstorm envisions a time when all students will confidently pursue their best-fit educational opportunities, access the career exploration and development support they need, and easily transition into the right opportunity to launch their careers. Brainstorms mission, therefore, is to eliminate friction, inefficiencies, and misinformation from the student recruitment, career development, and hiring processes. They do this by providing strategic consulting, actionable research and information, and effective training to the employers that hire students and the institutions that educate them and support their development.
Founded in 2003 by Graham Donald, Brainstorm has advised many of the country’s largest employers, universities, and colleges. These include KPMG, TD Bank, McGill University, Wilfrid Laurier University, Bell, PwC, University of British Columbia, Wilfrid Laurier University, Bank of Canada, Kraft, University of Toronto, Rutgers University, RBC, IBM, George Brown College, Carleton University, RCMP, CIBC, and many others. Brainstorm has organized and led well over sixty conferences and training programs, and conducted quantitative and qualitative research with more than 100,000 post-secondary students and recent grads.
Riz Ibrahim is the Executive Director of CERIC. Riz works with CERIC’s cross-sectoral Board and Advisory Committees to develop strategic and functional partnerships that enhance the body of knowledge for Canada’s career professional communities. Additionally, Riz oversees all areas within CERIC’s mandate including the Cannexus National Career Development Conference, the CareerWise and OrientAction content websites, the peer-reviewed Canadian Journal of Career Development (CJCD), and a host of internal and external projects including national surveys of Canadians’ perceptions about career planning and about career development and the workplace.
CERIC is a charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and career development, in order to increase the economic and social well-being of Canadians. It funds projects to develop innovative resources that build the knowledge and skills of diverse career and employment professionals. CERIC also annually hosts Cannexus, Canada’s largest bilingual career development conference, publishes the country’s only peer-reviewed journal, Canadian Journal of Career Development, and runs the CareerWise / OrientAction websites, providing the top career development news and views.
CERIC’s activities are funded in large part by The Counselling Foundation of Canada, a family foundation that has actively supported career projects for 60 years. The origin of the CERIC name is as an acronym for Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling. However, recognizing that the scope of career development encompasses counselling and more, the organization has adopted CERIC as its name and added the descriptor “Advancing Career Development in Canada” to communicate its purpose and impact.
As the HR Partner for Manulife Financial, Jill Haigh supports the Canada Segment and Halifax Region. Jill has worked in Manulife for nineteen years, where she shifted roles approximately every three years. She initially started her career in Manulife as an Analyst, and then moved on to hold varying leadership roles across the different departments of the business.
Jill has worked in Human Resource for three years and focuses on supporting the business with Talent Management, Performance Management, Operational Effectiveness, Engagement and creating High Performing Teams as a whole.
Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. With their global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, they provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for their global wealth and asset management segment, they serve individuals, institutions and retirement plan members worldwide. At the end of 2020, Manulife had more than 37,000 employees, over 118,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 30 million customers.
Manulife believes that their greatest contribution to society is the products they provide, which help people make their decisions easier and lives better. They also strive to make meaningful impacts in other ways: by adhering to the strongest standards of conduct, through environmental responsibility, philanthropy, employee volunteerism, promoting health and wellness, and much more.