The 50 best employers in Canada for 2008

Employee engagement still lowest in Alberta

While the labour market in Canada, particularly in the West, may be tighter than it was a year ago, some organizations are managing to achieve high engagement levels and hang on to their employees, according to Hewitt Associates’ 50 Best Employers in Canada survey.

The survey found the average employee engagement score for employers on the list remained unchanged from last year at 77 per cent, significantly higher than the 58 per cent for participants that didn't make the list.

“Employee engagement, which measures an employee’s degree of emotional and intellectual commitment to the organization, might have been expected to decrease as the demand for labour begins to exceed supply,” said Neil Crawford, Hewitt’s leader of the Best Employers in Canada survey.

“However, that hasn’t happened. What we are seeing is that many employers are increasingly focused on how to sustain and increase the engagement of their employees.”

However, employee engagement is again the lowest in Alberta, which is currently hardest hit by the labour shortage. Average engagement for all organizations that participated in the 2008 studies was 64 per cent, while it was 63 per cent for those in Alberta.

“To retain employees, the immediate reaction of some employers, particularly in Alberta, was to offer higher salaries,” said Ted Emond, a senior consultant with Hewitt Associates. “However, in a tight labour market, provided pay is competitive, other aspects of the job become more important in an employee’s decision to join or stay with an organization.”

For many employees, the key is flexibility: They want flexible work arrangements to accommodate other aspects of their lives, as well as a level of work-life balance that best meets their needs.

The highest ranking employers are generally more successful at offering the appropriate flexibility and balance than other organizations. Eighty-seven per cent of employees at the top 10 employers indicated they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “The flexibility I have in my work schedule is appropriate for the work that I do,” compared to 64 per cent at the bottom 10 employers.

Employees in organizations at the top of the list were also more likely to report their organizations' values were in line with their own and that their co-workers and managers behaved ethically and with integrity.

Eighty-three per cent of employees at the top 10 organizations agreed or strongly agreed that their personal values were the same as those of the organization, while only 36 per cent at the bottom 10 did.

Eighty-eight per cent of employees at the top 10 best employers agreed or strongly agreed that co-workers displayed integrity and ethical conduct at all times, while only 60 per cent felt that way at the bottom 10 organizations.

More than 100,000 employees from 115 organizations participated in the ninth edition of the Best 50 Employers in Canada survey, which is open to organizations with 400 employees or more. Most of the scoring is based on employee opinion surveys, and interviews with business leaders account for the rest of the scores.

50 Best Employers in Canada 2008

1. EllisDon Corporation, London, Ont.

2. Wellington West Holdings Inc., Winnipeg

3. PCL Constructors Inc., Edmonton

4. Bennett Jones LLP, Calgary

5. Edward Jones Canada, Mississauga, Ont.

6. JTI-Macdonald Corp., Mississauga, Ont.

7. Farm Credit Canada, Regina

8. Envision Financial, Langley, B.C.

9. Intuit Canada, Edmonton

10. GlaxoSmithKline Inc., Mississauga, Ont.

11. G & K Services Canada Inc., Mississauga, Ont.

12. Starwood Hotels & Resorts (Canada), Toronto

13. The Co-operators, Guelph, Ont.

14. Ceridian Canada Limited, Markham, Ont.

15. Flight Centre North America, Vancouver

16. CIMA+, Montreal

17. Earls Restaurants Ltd., North Vancouver

18. Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc., Montreal

19. Scotiabank Group, Toronto

20. Marriott Lodging Canada, Mississauga, Ont.

21. B.C. Biomedical Laboratories Ltd., Surrey, B.C.

22. AstraZeneca Canada Inc., Mississauga, Ont.

23. Sleep Country Canada, Toronto

24. Business Objects, Vancouver

25. Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, Vancouver

26. British Columbia Automobile Association, Burnaby, B.C.

27. Delta Hotels, Toronto

28. Groupe Robert Inc., Boucherville, Que.

29. Hoffmann-La Roche Limited, Mississauga, Ont.

30. Cintas Canada Ltd., Toronto

31. Deloitte & Touche LLP, Toronto

32. Keg Restaurants Ltd., Toronto

33. Ultramar Ltée., Montreal

34. Abbott Canada, St.-Laurent, Que.

35. Novartis Pharma Canada Inc., Dorval, Que.

36. McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited, Toronto

37. Midwest Surveys Inc., Calgary

38. Bell Nordiq, Montreal

39. L’Union Canadienne, Quebec

40. Bentall Capital LP, Toronto

41. National Bank of Canada, Montreal

42. Corporate Express Canada, Mississauga, Ont.

43. R. C. Purdy Chocolates Ltd., Vancouver

44. Canadian Western Bank, Edmonton

45. Aecon Group Inc., Toronto

46. COnt.EXUS, Regina

47. Golder Associates Ltd., Burnaby, B.C.

48. Chubb Insurance Company of Canada, Toronto

49. Marcil centre de rénovation, Saint-Sauveur, Que.

50. Nexen Inc., Calgary

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