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The weekly Careers newsletter will take a break during the holidays and will return January 8.

Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

What’s at the top of your work wish list this holiday season?

According to a recent poll by recruitment agency Robert Half, the most popular answers were work-life balance, remote-work options and growth opportunities.

The poll, which gathered data from about 800 LinkedIn users, suggests what individuals, managers and companies may expect to focus on in the New Year.

Work-life balance

Almost four in 10 (39 per cent) of people polled had work-life balance at the top of their priorities. Mike Shekhtman, senior regional director at Robert Half, said the past few years may have something to do with that.

During the pandemic, people had fewer social obligations and could focus on work. Now, they need to rebalance their priorities during a busy time of year, he said.

He said employers can encourage employees to take necessary breaks throughout the day and give people permission to create healthy boundaries, like not answering work e-mails after working hours.

As for workers: “This is a great time to start planning ahead and looking into the New Year,” Mr. Shekhtman said.

He advises people to think about key milestones or work-specific dates that will affect your schedule. Then, you can carve out vacation time and other priorities around that.

“Planning ahead helps a lot with logistics and not being reactive,” he said.

Remote work options

It’s no surprise remote work is still on many people’s minds, with 28 per cent putting it at the top of their wish list.

Mr. Shekhtman said that over the past few years, when many were able to work from home or other locations, have changed workers’ expectations.

“People had the opportunity to really arrange their schedules, and in some ways create a bit of flexibility for themselves to meet some of their other priorities,” he said.

For example, more people are embracing “windowed work,” which allows them to break up their day to go to an appointment, exercise or pick up kids from school.

For companies, remote and flexible work can affect employee retention — so your 2023 approach should be well thought out.

Another Robert Half study indicated that more than half of Canadian workers would rather quit their jobs than return to the office full-time.

Growth opportunities

Mr. Shekhtman described the last few years as a transition from “surviving to thriving” for many businesses and employees.

People in some sectors went from worrying about losing their jobs, to seeing their companies book record revenue.

As we settle into new ways of working, Mr. Shekhtman said people may feel stuck or not see a path forward.

“There’s an opportunity to create and ensure a little bit more transparency in terms of where companies are going and what individuals can do in terms of their path within those companies,” he said.

Employees also need to take accountability for their growth by finding answers to questions like: Where do I want to grow in the next year? Am I looking for a change? If so, what type?

“Professional development should be an ongoing topic of conversation,” Mr. Shekhtman said.

Looking forward to 2023

Mr. Shekhtman said it’s a great time of year for organizations to think about these wish list items, and consider how they can take an individualistic approach.

Work-life balance, remote work and career growth won’t look the same to everyone.

“It’s really important to check in with every individual on your team and create a solution for everybody to make sure that you retain people in this market,” he said.

What I’m reading around the web

  • After a 25-day test flight around the moon, NASA’s Orion capsule has returned to Earth. NASA plans to send astronauts, including one Canadian, back to the moon as early as 2025.
  • More leaders are facing public criticism as employee and customer activism reach new heights. As expectations continue to rise, it’s wise to prepare yourself before critique comes your way. Here’s what to do if you’ve been publicly called out.
  • Canadian wealth is taking a hit — households now owe $1.83 for every dollar of disposable income they have. We have $2-trillion in mortgage debt, $722-billion in other types of debt and the value of our assets have declined.
  • Have you heard of a thriving company that doesn’t have a CEO? Co-ops, which don’t have a single person with top-down authority, employ 10 per cent of the world’s work force and bring in more than $2-trillion a year. Watch this TED-Ed video, or read the transcript, to learn how they do it.

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