One in two Canadian employees looking to leave or checked out on the job, says new What's Working™ research by Mercer

Ability to do a quality job, reputation of company are key to gaining commitment, says Mercer

TORONTO, June 20, 2011 /CNW/ -

Half of all Canadian employees are disengaged

That message comes through loud and clear in Mercer's new What's Working™ survey, conducted over the past two quarters among nearly 30,000 workers in 17 countries, including more than 2,000 workers in Canada.*

Slightly more than one in three (36 per cent) Canadian workers are seriously considering leaving their organization at the present time, up sharply from 26 per cent in 2006. Meanwhile, another 22 per cent are indifferent about leaving but are increasingly dissatisfied with their employers and yield the lowest scores on key measures of engagement, a term that describes a combination of an employee's loyalty, commitment and motivation (see Figure 1).

"This erosion in employee sentiment has business consequences that reach well beyond the direct costs of employee turnover," said Madeline Avedon, Principal, Mercer's Human Capital business. "Canadian employees, in particular, are more engaged when they can deliver quality service and have a positive view of their company." Of the top six survey questions that employees most correlated to their engagement, four focus on commitment to quality and future success of the organization. "Diminished respect for and lack of confidence in an organization can undermine the innovation and productivity gains businesses rely on from their workforces," she said.

Scores for career development and performance management remain low, however employees credit their employers for improvements in these areas, including higher scores in implementing formal feedback programs (54 per cent said they had a formal performance appraisal or review in the past 12 months compared to 46 per cent in 2006).

"These data also confirm the correlation between performance management and a highly engaged workforce. Employees who received performance reviews in the last year are significantly more positive about their organization and its ability to manage talent," said Ms. Avedon. For example, among those who received a performance review in the last year, 62 per cent believe there is opportunity for growth and development with their company, compared to 42 per cent among those who did not receive a performance review.

"A formal feedback program is important, but it's the manager's ability to meet the employee's need for feedback, encourage discussion and drive performance that form the critical links to employee engagement and desired improvements in productivity," said Ms. Avedon.

Other key data highlight employees' concerns about work and reflect an evolving employment relationship - one generally characterized as a series of takeaways and a tightening of any "extras" in response to today's struggling economy:

  • Employees regard base pay as the most important element of the employment deal by a wide margin, yet only a little more than half (53 per cent) say they are satisfied with their base pay, and only slightly more (58 per cent) feel they are paid fairly given their performance and contributions.

  • Only 43 per cent of Canadian employees believe they are doing enough to financially prepare for retirement, and just 40 per cent believe their employers are doing enough to help them prepare.

  • Sixty-six per cent rate their overall benefits program as good or very good, while 58 per cent say they are satisfied with their health care benefits. However, only 53 per cent say their benefits are as good as, or better, than those of others in their industry, down from 65 per cent.

As a result, overall scores are down consistently across key engagement measures while intention to leave is up across all employee segments, with the youngest workers most likely to be eyeing a departure - 43 per cent of employees age 25-34 and 45 per cent of employees 24 and younger (see Figures 2 and 3 at

Mercer's survey reinforces the importance of knowing what is going on inside employee minds, which changes over time and evolves as new generations join the workforce. "To better understand what drives engagement on a broader scale, employers must periodically take the pulse of their own employees to identify specific areas of concern and link employee opinion to outcomes such as productivity and retention," said Pete Foley, PhD, a Principal at Mercer and employee research consultant. "Only then can informed decisions be made regarding trade-offs and investments in the employment relationship, developing specific leadership skills and enhancing managerial effectiveness on the front line."

The findings from Mercer's What's Working survey are part of a 2011 explorative series entitled "Inside Employees' Minds: Navigating the New Rules of Engagement." A dedicated website ( will feature videos, podcasts and other intellectual capital to help employers better understand and create ways to increase employee engagement.

Note to editors: Mercer defines engagement as a psychological state in which employees feel a vested interest in the company's success and are both willing and motivated to perform to levels that exceed the stated job requirements. It reflects how employees feel about the overall work experience - the organization, its leaders, the work environment, and the recognition and rewards they receive for their efforts.

About Mercer's What's Working Survey™
Mercer's proprietary What's Working™ survey, which examines employee views on work, was conducted among more than 2,000 Canadian workers in late 2010. The survey, results from which were last released in Canada in 2006, includes more than 100 questions on a range of work-related topics and reflects the overall demographics of the Canadian workforce in terms of age, gender, job level and industry.* This research also is being conducted in 16 other countries worldwide.

About Mercer
Mercer is a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services. Mercer works with clients to solve their most complex benefit and human capital issues, designing and helping manage health, retirement and other benefits. It is a leader in benefit outsourcing. Mercer's investment services include investment consulting and multi-manager investment management. Mercer's 20,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., which lists its stock (ticker symbol: MMC) on the New York and Chicago stock exchanges. For more information, visit

* The survey sample does not include workers from the public sector.

Figure 1 - Disaffected workers post lowest engagement scores, views of employers

  Percentage who agree
Among those
not seriously
(42% of all
Among those
(36% of all
those who
(22% of all
Personally feel treated fairly by organization 79% 61% 55%
Proud to work for organization 82% 59% 53%
Get feeling of personal accomplishment from work 79% 65% 52%
Willing to go beyond job requirements to help organization succeed 75% 69% 53%
Would recommend my organization to others as a good place to work 83% 59% 49%
Feel strong sense of commitment to organization 76% 55% 36%
See a long-term future with organization 78% 52% 44%
Believe organization as a whole is well-managed 66% 52% 28%

Source - Mercer's What's Working ™ survey





For further information:

Lindsay Mack
416 413 4771

Nancy Altilia
416 868 2364

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