In the News: Nearly Half of Canadian Working Women Would Rather Quit Than Return to the Office Full-Time, Survey Finds

June 17, 2022 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by Joshua Chong, Toronto Star

As businesses across the country issue back-to-office notices to employees, nearly half of Canadian working women say they may quit their jobs if working from home at least part of the time is not an option, a report from The Prosperity Project found.

The project, founded to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian women, surveyed 800 women across the country. It found that nearly half of those who responded transitioned to working from home during the pandemic. Of those, more than nine out of 10 said they would prefer that most or at least part of their work to be done remotely moving forward.

About 45 per cent, or approximately 360 respondents, said they would go so far as to quit if forced to work from the office full-time, while nearly two-thirds indicated they would turn down a promotion to keep working from home.

“This is very alarming data,” said Andrea Spender, CEO of The Prosperity Project, a registered charity launched in May 2020 that aims to link women and prosperity, and underscore the economic importance of gender equality.

While more than seven in 10 of those surveyed said employers were more accommodating during the pandemic, a similar proportion anticipates bosses will put the priority on in-person office work going forward. Nearly six in 10 surveyed feel they will soon have to choose between their family and their career.

“Women don’t want to choose between work and family. But this poll is showing that they may have to if at least some of this flexibility does not continue,” said Spender.

While progressive organizations are offering flexible work options, others are not, opting instead to “pull the switch” and turn things back to how they were before the pandemic, said Catherine Connelly, a Canada Research Chair and human resources and management professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business.

“That’s very unrealistic,” she said. “These flexible or hybrid work arrangements have become common enough that it’s almost a routine thing for employees to expect these days.”

Connelly believes organizations that do not offer flexible work arrangements will see employees quit and move to other jobs that offer those accommodations.

“We’ve already seen a fairly significant cultural shift in terms of what employees will accept,” she said, noting that with low unemployment rates, it’s an employee’s market. “They know that if they would like a certain arrangement, and their employer is not ready to provide that, then they can find somebody else who will.”

Read the full article in the Toronto Star.

Catherine Connelly headshot

Catherine Connelly

Professor, Human Resources & Management

Dr. Catherine Connelly holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Organizational Behaviour, and is a Member Emeritus of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). She is a former associate editor for Human Relations and currently serves on several editorial boards including the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management Review, the Academy of Management Discoveries journal, and Human Resource Management. Her research focuses on the attitudes, behaviours, and experiences of non-standard workers (e.g., temporary agency workers, contractors, temporary foreign workers), the effects of leadership styles on leader well-being, and knowledge hiding in organizations. Catherine also conducts applied research with several Canadian organizations in both the private and non-profit sector. In addition to her research success, Catherine is a past winner and frequent teaching award nominee for her teaching in the MBA and PhD programs. She has made presentations about her research to industry and academic groups across Canada and the US, and in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Her research has been featured in the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and on CTV and CBC radio and TV.

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