As the country enters a recession, Canadian businesses with high employee engagement have a competitive advantage in their ability to weather the storm, according to the results of Hewitt Associates' tenth annual Best Employers in Canada study.
"The average employee engagement score at this year's 50 Best Employers is 76 per cent, 22 percentage points higher than the average at other participants in the study," said Neil Crawford, leader of the Best Employers in Canada study.
"While an engaged workforce alone doesn't make an organization recession-proof, it can provide a level of resilience that other employers do not enjoy. These employees are highly productive and motivated. They are more likely do what is necessary to help their employer succeed."
The results from this year's study were based on survey responses from more than 115,000 Canadian employees in 145 organizations, with additional input from more than 1,200 leaders and human resources professionals.
No organization has appeared on the list every year for the past decade. However, several organizations have been recognized annually over extended periods since the study's inception.
"Many of these employers have experienced significant business challenges and have survived and thrived, in large part due to a solid foundation of high employee engagement," stated senior consultant Ted Emond.
While the specific HR practices used to engage employees vary, there are some common qualities shared by all those recognized on the 50 Best Employers list.
One of the primary differentiators is the behaviour demonstrated by senior leaders.
"Leaders at these organizations are absolutely clear that employees are critical to their success. They foster frequent two-way communication to ensure employees feel 'part of the team' and understand the part they play in achieving corporate objectives," said Crawford.
"In addition, Best Employers place more emphasis than other organizations on providing learning and development opportunities, strong performance management, and human resources programs that are not only competitive, but really meet the needs of each employee."
In its 10th year, 10 new organizations have made Hewitt's Best Employers in Canada list. The list includes 25 organizations from Ontario, eight from British Columbia, eight from Quebec, five from Alberta, three from Saskatchewan and one from Manitoba.
50 Best Employers 2009
PCL Constructors Inc.
Bennett Jones LLP
Wellington West Holdings Inc.
G&K Services Canada Inc.
Farm Credit Canada
B.C. Biomedical Laboratories Ltd.
Aecon Group Inc.
Flight Centre North America
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (Canada)
Earl's Restaurants Ltd.
Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc.
Amex Canada Inc.
AstraZeneca Canada Inc.
Marriott Hotels and Resorts Canada
McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Ltd.
Chubb Insurance Company of Canada
TD Bank Financial Group
OpenRoad Auto Group
Federal Express Canada Limited
Keg Restaurants Ltd.
Canadian Western Bank
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP
Novartis Pharma Canada Inc.
Deloitte & Touche LLP
SAP Canada Inc.
Co-operators Life Insurance Company
Golder Associates Ltd.
British Columbia Automobile Association
Meyers Norris Penny
R.C. Purdy Chocolates Ltd.
Procter & Gamble
National Bank of Canada