HR Market Update – April

The latest economic news remains unsettled, and the economic outlook remains mixed. Consumer confidence remains negative but has improved in recent months. The seemingly continuous interest rate hikes have paused as inflation has started to slow down. Through all of this turmoil, unemployment rates remain at historic lows.  We have never experienced economic contraction with low unemployment, so we are in need of new solutions and approaches.


As we take our first timid steps into Spring after an unstable Winter, one is left to wonder if the economic storm has passed or are we in the eye of the hurricane? And if the latter, those that have lived through a hurricane will know the back side is often worse. One only has to look at the media and tech sectors that continue to experience significant contraction and the instability in US banks has put the world’s financial markets on notice.


The current situation conjures up the tagline from the movie JAWS 2 – “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”. Not surprisingly, we are seeing interesting trends continuing to unfold in the world of talent and human resources.


Leadership is critical to the success of every organization and is even more relevant during economic turmoil. Clients continue to reach out for input and advice on how to strengthen their leadership bench.  One way is to try to recruit leaders, but often that means poaching from someone else  or holding out for a unicorn candidate – neither of which are sustainable in the long run. Developing leaders (and leadership capability) internally is a viable option but as Jeffrey Pfeffer pointed out in his book Leadership BS, there is a lot of money spent every year on leadership development with no real discernable difference made. We suspect this is a result, in part, of “one-and-done” solutions that simply do not work. Development is a journey, not an event. Reach out to Ahria’s leadership development lead, Kristy McQueen, to learn more about best practices in growing leaders.


Looking for funding support?  It was recently announced that the Canada – Ontario Job Grant (COJG) was renewed.  This program provides employers with financial support for training initiatives…and our team is ready to help.  Reach out to us at [email protected] and we can walk you through the process of tapping into these funds.


The talent crunch continues to thwart many organizations’ efforts to attain good talent. In many instances, managers are hiring folks with little to no review, akin to how people were buying houses in the summer of 2022. Keeping with the housing analogy, aside from a thorough review of the property, a good home inspection can help uncover hidden issues. The same holds true for those hiring. Candidates today are more sophisticated than ever before and are presenting to organizations in more sophisticated ways. Coupled with a shrunken talent pool, organizations are finding hiring more difficult than ever before. Not surprisingly, we have seen an increase in requests for sophisticated, reliable and valid assessment tools to help gain better insight into candidates. While there are thousands of tools available on-line, one has to be very cautious about the tools used. For those wanting to learn more, reach out to Terry Gillis, Ahria’s Assessment practice lead for a free resource on how to determine what assessment tools to use in hiring. (Hint: DiSC Profile is not on the list!)


Southwestern Ontario is not immune to the uptick in downsizings and layoffs. We have seen a significant increase in the number of organizations in need of support with offboarding employees. While this support was less during the pandemic, we believe the uptick is driven by a greater focus on maintaining the organization’s brand. Layoffs may be necessary for the short term and maintaining a culture of caring for all employees is critical. Good Career Transition support is not limited to the employee impacted but also should support the manager during the termination process. And the trend towards layoff by text or by zoom should never be adopted unless you are looking to destroy your employer brand. Want a free copy of our guide to employee dismissals? Reach out to James Coolidge to learn more!


A recent report from Family Enterprise Canada stated Family-Owned Enterprises (FOEs) are a critical component of the Canadian economy,  accounting for over 60% of all private sector organizations in the Canadian economy and generating close to 50% of Canada’s real GDP in the private sector (approx.$574B). These businesses also employ almost 7 million people across the country, or about 47% of private sector employment. There is no question that family businesses are a huge contributor to the Canadian economy, yet the future is not so bright. Over half of these businesses will change ownership (usually one generation to the next) in the next ten years. However, like many other organizations, there is little planning in place beyond the traditional legal and financial pieces. Recognizing the risk to successful succession, Ahria’s own Kelly Gillis recently completed the requirements for obtaining her Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA) designation through Family Enterprise Canada. As a result, Ahria has a thorough toolkit to help organizations navigate the complexities of ensuring a positive transition of the business from one generation or one owner to the next.


Quick Takes

  • Executive Lunch and Learn with Stephen Bolton at The Grand Theatre – Drewlo Lounge, May 31st, 12pm-1pm – For more information and tickets, click here
  • Calling all HR Professionals – Sign up here for our weekly HR job postings
  • DisruptHR is coming back in the Fall of 2023. – interested in speaking? – reach out to us today!
  • Our Learning and Development Series continues – To register or  learn more, click here
  • Our job search group is back and OPEN TO ALL! We have rebranded it as “The ONE Group” (Opportunities to Network for Employment Group) – Send us an email to join [email protected]


Is your organization finding its way in this unique economic environment? Has the talent crunch got you baffled? 

Looking for unique approaches to your talent issues? Looking to up your leadership game? Have leaders who need to reach the next level? Are you working to ensure you are engaging and retaining the best people? Concerned about future business success? We’re here to help. I invite you to book a quick 15-minute chat, and let’s have a sounding-board conversation.



Terry Gillis 

President & CEO