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From a Careers and working life perspective, 2023 has to be seen as the year where the balance of power began to move from employees to employers. The Bank of Canada began aggressively hiking the interest rate in the spring of 2022 and by the beginning of this year, we were already talking about a looming recession. Since December of last year, the unemployment rate has risen to 5.8 per cent from 5 per cent while banks and tech companies were laying off employees. For job seekers, this means far fewer interviews and offers and many workers looking to switch companies are now more hesitant to quit without already securing a new job first.

At the same time, workers from many sectors began to see the capabilities of artificial intelligence, particularly generative chatbots such as ChatGPT, and began to think about how it can change how they work. In a year of so much change in the workplace, here are the top five most-read stories:

1. How to deal with quiet hiring, seen as a top trend in 2023

In August, reporter Deja Leonard wrote about the trend of quiet hiring, where firms either expand the role of a worker or hire internally. It can help businesses meet acute needs and help workers because they don’t face competition, but there are downsides for both and experts say it has to come with commensurate compensation or other incentives such as time off, flexible hours or one-time bonuses.

2. If I accept a job offer, must I legally take it even if I receive a better offer a few days later?

Every week, reporter Andrea Yu works to answer workplace questions, mostly around legal or HR issues. In one question from August, a worker wanted to know if they have an obligation to the first company they accepted an offer from or if they can renege that acceptance and take the second offer. For this question, one employment lawyer and one HR expert weighed in, both suggesting clear communication with the first company as soon as possible.

3. More sleep or a vacation aren’t enough: The seven types of rest you need to avoid burnout

Burnout has been a hot topic this year. In October, Ms. Leonard wrote about a Toronto business owner who talked about how even after returning from a two-week vacation in Banff, Alta. she was still exhausted. More than three quarters of Canadian workers say they have felt burnt out in their careers at some point.

Burnout is a complex issue and getting more sleep or taking a vacation often isn’t enough. There are seven different types of rest everyone needs, according to internal medicine physician and author Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: physical, mental, emotional, sensory, creative, social and spiritual.

4. The fifth industrial revolution is coming. Other countries are embracing it as Canada falls behind

It is impossible to ignore the impact AI has had on the working world this year. In October, economist and columnist Linda Nazareth wrote about the coming fifth industrial revolution, which will be about using technology to meet societal goals and fashion a human-centric future of work. It is a future where automation and cobots (collaborative robots) will have to be managed along with human workers. She says other parts of the world have already embraced the idea and Canada needs a strategy around harnessing the changes.

5. High-paying STEM jobs are becoming more attainable for those without a degree

With so many jobs these days requiring some sort of science, technology, engineering or math education and comparatively few workers with that education there has been a rise of alternative training programs – such as online education and crash courses. And that is creating more opportunities for Canadians without formal or relevant post-secondary education to enter the field. In March, reporter Jared Lindzon wrote about these programs and the jobs (and their salaries) that don’t require a degree.

“Having a college degree is not the only golden ticket to a high paying job,” Roman Peskin, chief executive officer of online learning platform ELVTR, said in the article. “That doesn’t mean education is not important – education is more essential than ever – but the ways people can educate themselves have changed dramatically.”

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