Top employer lists may be losing their allure: Survey

45 per cent of Canadian HR professionals say lists less important
||Last Updated: 04/04/2011

An annual tradition that continues to expand, top employer lists may be losing their allure, according to a survey of 434 Canadian HR professionals. Almost one-half (45 per cent) of Canadian HR Reporter readers and members of the Human Resources Professionals Association said top employer lists are less important than they were a few years ago, while 38.5 per cent said they are as important and 16.5 per cent said they are more important.

As further evidence of declining enthusiasm, 34.9 per cent of the respondents said they are currently participating in a top employer list, compared to 49.3 per cent who participated in the past. And while 24 per cent of the respondents to the Pulse Survey said they definitely pay attention to the lists, 39.2 per cent said they pay some attention, 24.2 per cent pay “a bit” of attention and 12.7 per cent pay no attention.

“Many of these competitions really serve to allow a sponsoring consulting agency to gain access to ‘top’ targets or clients,” said one respondent. “One should not ignore the marketing aspect of these lists — not for the employers but the sponsoring agency. It is notable that top-notch universities and members of the greater public sector seem to be totally ignored in these lists and competitions, largely because they are not viewed as a source of consulting business and not worth targeting.”

More than one-quarter (28.3 per cent) said the top employer lists have little or no validity, compared to 31.5 per cent of the respondents who said these lists are very or mostly valid and 31.3 per cent who said they are somewhat valid.

However, there are too many top employer lists, which discredits their validity, said another respondent.

“By having a good five lists out there every year lends more value to the organizations/employers who ‘make it.’ I think if there is a good competition out there, it can be good for employees (increased pride and prestige), excellent for the brand and visibility of the employer and good to recognize good practice out there.”

A further 29 per cent said the concept of “top employer” is a “dangerous simplification,” while 31 per cent said the concept is valid and 40 per cent had mixed feelings on the subject.

There are many components involved, said one respondent.

“Too often the most recognized and published lists have a heavy weighting on pay and benefits. In recent economic times, it would be tough for a lot of worthwhile and top employers to make it onto these lists. I feel that capturing engagement and connecting it to business results is a much better indicator of measuring a successful employer and co-relating the employee and customer satisfaction/experience/engagement linkage.”

How an organization does in the competition can make a difference: Even if they don’t make the list, 27.4 per cent of respondents said participating is “very much” worthwhile while 31.1 per cent said it is somewhat worthwhile, 18 per cent said it is a bit worthwhile and 18.7 per cent said it is not worth their time.

Participating in the lists is more about the feedback received from employees, said another respondent.

“We uncovered some very interesting insight that has helped us understand how our employees perceive our company that would be difficult to obtain otherwise. Luckily we have made the list every year we have participated.”

For more information on this survey, including complete results and analysis, see the April 11 issue of Canadian HR Reporter.

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