The end of last year’s economic downturn appears to have brought employee engagement back to the forefront for many Canadian organizations, according to the 2011 Best Employers studies, conducted by Aon Hewitt, the human capital consulting and outsourcing solutions business of Aon Corporation (NYSE: AON), in conjunction with the Queen’s University School of Business. As a result, participation in the annual Best Employers studies increased by 20 per cent over last year.
The 2011 lists of the
Best Employers in Canada
and the Best Small & Medium Employers in Canada appear in the November 8 issue of Maclean’s magazine, available now on newsstands, and in the November 4 edition of La Presse.
“Even though participation in the studies increased this year, a number of the organizations that appear on the 2011 Best Employers lists have achieved this status before,” says Neil Crawford, Aon Hewitt’s national Best Employers studies leader. “These employers didn’t waiver in their commitment to sustaining and improving high employee engagement, even during tough economic times. They weathered the recession thanks in large part to a highly productive workforce focused on organizational success. The fact that these employers appear again on the 2011 lists indicates that their employees are still very committed to the organization, despite having more options available to them in a post-recession economy.”
There are also close to 20 organizations that have been named Best Employers this year for the first time. “Some of these employers have participated in prior years and have been on the journey to high employee engagement,” states Crawford. “By using the study results to pinpoint exactly where they needed to make changes to their human resources policies, programs and practices, these organizations have been able to boost their employees’ engagement. They’re now enjoying the benefits of high engagement, including lower turnover, less absenteeism, greater employee productivity, and higher customer satisfaction.”
Defining employee engagement
Two hundred and fifty-one Canadian employers took part in the 2011 Best Employers studies. Organizations are selected as Best Employers based primarily on survey responses from more than 134,000 Canadian employees at these organizations that gauge their level of engagement.
According to Aon Hewitt’s definition, employees are engaged when they “say, stay and strive”: they speak positively about the organization to others, are committed to remaining with their current employer, and are motivated by their organizations’ leaders, managers, culture and values to go “above and beyond” to contribute to business success. The average engagement score for Best Employer organizations of all sizes was 80 per cent; the average for other organizations participating in the two studies was 59 per cent.
Size, industry, location no barrier to best employer status
Those organizations that appear on the two 2011 Best Employers lists represent a wide range of employers. They come from software, banking, hospitality, retail, pharmaceutical and 25 other industries. They are headquartered across the country, from Charlottetown to Nanaimo. They range in size from as few as 50 employees to more than 50,000.
“Even though the two studies are geared towards larger and small/medium organizations, our research has determined that size really isn’t a factor when it comes to employee engagement,” says survey co-ordinator Einar Westerlund, director of project development at the Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing. “It’s as much a challenge for small organizations to engage their employees as it is for large ones. The approach may vary by company size, but driving employee engagement is still very much related to factors such as frequent, two-way communication with leaders, learning, development and career opportunities, strong performance management, and human resources programs that are not only competitive, but also meet the needs of individual employees and align with the organization’s values.”
To learn more about the Best Employers studies and register online to participate, please visit the Best Employers Web site at
Based at Queen’s School of Business, Canada’s leading business school, QCBV's mandate is to become the leading and definitive source of knowledge and expertise in the creation, leadership and management of new ventures. It will accomplish this by developing innovative curriculum, providing access to pools of capital to fund new ventures, conducting applied research, brokering and being a hub of SME and new venture knowledge, and by playing a key role with decision-making bodies. Its focus is to increase the odds of success for Canadian new ventures.
Aon Hewitt is the global leader in human capital consulting and outsourcing solutions. The company partners with organizations to solve their most complex benefits, talent and related financial challenges, and improve business performance. Aon Hewitt designs, implements, communicates and administers a wide range of human capital, retirement, investment management, health care, compensation and talent management strategies. With more than 29,000 professionals in 90 countries, Aon Hewitt makes the world a better place to work for clients and their employees. For more information on Aon Hewitt, please visit
Aon Corporation is the leading global provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human capital consulting and outsourcing. Visit
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