4 in 10 Canadians are willing to take a pay cut at work for this reason

People living in Ontario and British Columbia are more willing to slash their pay if it means better career development opportunities, a new survey says. Getty Images

Canadian employees are willing to sacrifice a pay cut if it means getting the professional support they say they aren’t getting from their employers, a new survey shows.

According to human resources company ADP Canada, four in 10 working Canadians say their company rarely or never provides them with career development support — a feat which has become increasingly important to employees over the years.

“What surprised me the most I think is that paradox between all of these people who are looking for career development and the fact that so many employers don’t seem to be providing it,” says Sooky Lee, general manager of human resources business process outsourcing at ADP Canada.

Out of the surveyed regions in Canada, Atlantic Canadians were among those who reported the most issues with lack of access to career development (49 per cent). This was followed by Quebecers and Ontarians at 41 per cent.

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Canadians across the country, however, are willing to do whatever it takes to get that missing professional support — even to the point where they’re willing to take a pay cut.

Almost one-quarter of Canadians say they would take five per cent less while about one in 10 say they would take a 10-per-cent hit to their pay.

But it’s Ontarians and British Columbians who are more willing to take such drastic action (43 and 42 per cent, respectively). This is followed by 41 per cent of Atlantic Canadians.

Lee believes that this issue is important to Canadian workers because the workforce is always changing, especially around technology and the fact that employees rarely stay with one employer for their entire careers like before.

“Individuals want to stay competitive and have the most current skill sets needed,” she says. “They’re looking to their employer to provide that, which is a natural expectation I think.”

Among those who say they receive little or no training, 33 per cent of them say their company doesn’t offer this type of support to their employees. However, 19 per cent say they haven’t actually tried to ask for such support, while 14 per cent say they feel they aren’t senior enough to receive this kind of support. Lastly, nine per cent say their boss doesn’t have time to address their needs.

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This growth gap between companies and their workers can even push their employees to seek jobs that are more fulfilling elsewhere.  By allowing this gap to persist, companies are risking more money than they would if they provided that support, Lee says.

“From a company perspective, this is clearly an area worth investing in or doing something about,” Lee says. “There are a lot of different approaches to help address it that can be low-cost. An example is online training. It costs very little or can even be free. I think if it’s made a priority in organizations, then it can help them retain talent and ultimately achieve their business goals.”

And if not with their employer, where are bosses and managers expecting their employees to get such career development support? Well, Lee says, employers may not be consciously thinking about it.

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So instead of waiting to be approached, Lee encouraged employees to take initiative. This could either be by approaching your superior to make your goals known, or by taking outside courses — online or through avenues.

For Sheryl Boswell, director of marketing at, the results of the survey aren’t surprising.

“More and more Canadians are turning to precarious employment opportunities, and not at all by choice, which may not offer much support for career development,” she says. “And even so, if employees are also on contract work, they may not always feel comfortable broaching the topic with their employer right away.”

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Boswell says it’s also smart for employers to really take note of these numbers and understand what they mean.

“It’s a motivating statistic for employers that four out of 10 workers would take a pay cut in exchange for better career development support,” says Boswell. “This shows that Canadians want more fulfilment and reward out of their job than just a reliable paycheque — and it’s up to the employer to offer that.”

As for what type of development employees are looking for, Boswell says they’re opportunities that will help them grow professionally while tapping in to their interests — both of which will help them grow within their current company (or not).

Those often include courses outside of regular work hours, attending networking events and learning more about the industry they work in.

“I think the effect of not having support for career development really depends on the employer and the business that they provide,” Boswell says. “In an age of startups, not all companies may focus on long-term goals like career development and may look to more short-term rewards like flexible work hours. Employers should keep in mind that this may signal to potential candidates that the company is not willing to invest in their growth.”


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