50 Best Employers in Canada Offer Flexibility, Demonstrate Integrity, According to Hewitt Associates

    Rich Data from Annual Best Employers Study Provides Insight into how
    Canadian Organizations Can Deal with Changing Labour Market

    TORONTO, Jan. 3 /CNW/ - 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. The
results of the annual Best Employers in Canada study, conducted by Hewitt
Associates, a global human resources services company, shows that average
employee engagement for those organizations identified as the year's 50 Best
Employers in Canada remains unchanged from last year at 77 per cent. It is at
58 per cent for other participants in the 2008 study.
    "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 study. "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. They are committing significant resources and time to listen
carefully to all segments of their workforce-and adjust the work environment,
their expectations of managers and leaders, and their human resources programs
in response to what employees are saying."
    The list of the 50 Best Employers in Canada for 2008 (attached) appears
in the January issue of The Globe and Mail's Report on Business magazine and
in La Presse. Survey responses from more than 100,000 Canadian employees at
115 organizations determined this year's ranking, with additional input from
over 1,400 leaders and human resources professionals.

    Flexibility and Balance

    Employee engagement is again lowest in Alberta, which is currently
hardest hit by the labour shortage. Average engagement for all organizations
that participated in the 2008 study was 64 per cent, while it was 63 per cent
for those who said they work in Alberta. This is an increase of two percentage
points over last year, when average employee engagement in Alberta was 61 per
cent. Six organizations from Alberta appear amongst the 50 Best Employers in
Canada this year, the same as in 2007.
    "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 the level
of work/life balance that best meets their needs.
    The study results reveal that offering more flexibility does lead to
higher engagement. Depending on the specific program, the improvement in
employee engagement can range from two percentage points to seven percentage
    The 50 Best Employers are generally more successful at offering the
appropriate flexibility and balance than other organizations, especially those
at the top of the list. Eighty-seven per cent of employees at the top ten Best
Employer organizations indicated that they agreed or strongly agreed with the
statement, "The flexibility I have in my work schedule is appropriate for the
work that I do," while only 64 per cent at the bottom ten participants did so.
Similarly, 54 per cent of employees at the bottom ten companies agreed or
strongly agreed that they had the right balance between work and personal
commitments; that figure was 77 per cent at the top ten Best Employers.
    "Providing as much flexibility as possible can certainly help to increase
engagement," stated Emond. "With an increasingly diverse workforce, employers
need to constantly look for ways to meet various needs for flexibility. Best
Employers have been leaders in this area for many years."

    Values and Integrity

    Another area that distinguishes Best Employers from the rest of the pack
is their focus on values and integrity. In today's corporate world, boards and
regulators are increasingly concerned about what is driving day-to-day
employee behaviour. Employees were asked several questions about values and
integrity in their organizations.

    -   Values-the degree to which employees' personal values are aligned
        with organizational values and accountability for upholding values.
        The contrast between the top ten Best Employers and the bottom ten
        organizations was striking: 83 per cent of employees at the top ten
        organizations agreed or strongly agreed that their personal values
        were the same as those of the organization, while only 36 per cent
        did so at the bottom ten. When asked about accountability, 84 per
        cent of employees at the top ten agreed/strongly agreed that
        employees held each other accountable for living by the
        organization's values. That figure was 38 per cent at the bottom ten.

    -   Integrity/Ethics-the degree to which co-workers, managers and senior
        leaders display integrity and ethical conduct. Eighty-eight per cent
        of employees at the top ten 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 ten organizations.
        With respect to managers, the numbers were 90 per cent at the top ten
        and 63 per cent at the bottom ten. There was a bigger difference with
        respect to leaders: 89 per cent of employees at the top ten Best
        Employers agreed or strongly agreed that senior leadership displayed
        integrity and ethical conduct at all times, while less than half- 48
        per cent-felt that way at the bottom ten employers.

    "It's not surprising that engagement is higher at organizations where
employees feel they share the same values as their employer. That sense of
'common purpose' can increase employee commitment, especially amongst older
workers," explained Crawford. "On the other hand, a perceived lack of
integrity on the part of co-workers, managers and leaders has, as expected, a
detrimental effect on engagement. What was perhaps unanticipated in the study
findings, however, was the really negative opinion of the ethics of senior
leadership at low-engagement organizations."

    The New Work Environment

    "Changing demographics are having a tremendous impact on the value
organizations place on their people and the strategies developed to attract
and retain employees," stated Emond. "Achieving high engagement is challenging
in these circumstances, but it can be done. This year's Best Employers clearly
demonstrate that this is possible."
    By participating in the Best Employers in Canada study, organizations
have online access to a tremendous database of information about their own
employees, the 50 Best Employers and their competitors. "Our comparative data
is very extensive. We can help organizations understand how they compare to
other organizations across a range of industries, levels of engagement and
demographic factors, including job roles, generations, years of service,
gender, etc.," said Crawford. "That kind of information can provide a real
edge when competing for scarce talent."

    To find out more about Hewitt's Best Employers in Canada study, please
visit the Best Employers Web site at www.hewitt.com/bestemployerscanada. For
additional data from the Best Employers in Canada 2008 study, or to speak with
one of the year's Best Employers or a consultant from Hewitt Associates,
please contact Marcia McDougall, (416) 225-5001, marcia.mcdougall@hewitt.com

    About Hewitt Associates. With more than 65 years of experience, Hewitt
Associates (NYSE:   HEW) is the world's foremost provider of human resources
outsourcing and consulting services. The firm consults with more than 2,300
companies and administers human resources, health care, payroll, and
retirement programs on behalf of more than 340 companies to millions of
employees and retirees worldwide. Located in 35 countries, including Canadian
offices in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Regina, Hewitt employs
approximately 24,000 associates. For more information, please visit

    The 50 Best Employers in Canada 2008

    1    EllisDon Corporation                         London ON
    2    Wellington West Holdings Inc.                Winnipeg MB
    3    PCL Constructors Inc.                        Edmonton AB
    4    Bennett Jones LLP                            Calgary AB
    5    Edward Jones Canada                          Mississauga ON
    6    JTI-Macdonald Corp.                          Mississauga ON
    7    Farm Credit Canada                           Regina SK
    8    Envision Financial                           Langley BC
    9    Intuit Canada                                Edmonton AB
    10   GlaxoSmithKline Inc.                         Mississauga ON
    11   G & K Services Canada Inc.                   Mississauga ON
    12   Starwood Hotels & Resorts (Canada)           Toronto ON
    13   The Co-operators                             Guelph ON
    14   Ceridian Canada Limited                      Markham ON
    15   Flight Centre North America                  Vancouver BC
    16   CIMA+                                        Montréal QC
    17   Earls Restaurants Ltd.                       North Vancouver BC
    18   Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc.                       Montréal QC
    19   Scotiabank Group                             Toronto ON
    20   Marriott Lodging Canada                      Mississauga ON
    21   BC Biomedical Laboratories Ltd.              Surrey BC
    22   AstraZeneca Canada Inc.                      Mississauga ON
    23   Sleep Country Canada                         Toronto ON
    24   Business Objects                             Vancouver BC
    25   Rocky Mountaineer Vacations                  Vancouver BC
    26   British Columbia Automobile Association      Burnaby BC
    27   Delta Hotels                                 Toronto ON
    28   Groupe Robert Inc.                           Boucherville QC
    29   Hoffmann-La Roche Limited                    Mississauga ON
    30   Cintas Canada Ltd.                           Toronto ON
    31   Deloitte & Touche LLP                        Toronto ON
    32   Keg Restaurants Ltd.                         Toronto ON
    33   Ultramar Ltée                                Montréal QC
    34   Abbott Canada                                St.-Laurent QC
    35   Novartis Pharma Canada Inc.                  Dorval QC
    36   McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited     Toronto ON
    37   Midwest Surveys Inc.                         Calgary AB
    38   Bell Nordiq                                  Montréal QC
    39   L'Union Canadienne                           Québec QC
    40   Bentall Capital LP                           Toronto ON
    41   National Bank of Canada                      Montréal QC
    42   Corporate Express Canada                     Mississauga ON
    43   R. C. Purdy Chocolates Ltd.                  Vancouver BC
    44   Canadian Western Bank                        Edmonton AB
    45   Aecon Group Inc.                             Toronto ON
    46   CONEXUS                                      Regina SK
    47   Golder Associates Ltd.                       Burnaby BC
    48   Chubb Insurance Company of Canada            Toronto ON
    49   Marcil centre de rénovation                  Saint-Sauveur QC
    50   Nexen Inc.                                   Calgary AB


For further information:

For further information: Marcia McDougall, Hewitt Associates, (416)
225-5001, marcia.mcdougall@hewitt.com

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