Hewitt's Best Employers in Canada Study Finds Link Between High Engagement and Employee Health and Well-Being

    Data Strengthens Business Case for Increasing Employee Engagement

    TORONTO, Feb. 18 /CNW/ - Research carried out in conjunction with the
2009 Best Employers in Canada study has established that highly engaged
employees experience better health and overall well-being. This finding
reinforces the benefits for both employers and employees of increasing
employee engagement, according to Hewitt Associates, the global human
resources consulting and outsourcing company that conducts the annual study.
    "The 115,000 employees surveyed as part of the 2009 study clearly
revealed that high engagement goes hand-in-hand with better health and
well-being," said Neil Crawford, leader of Hewitt's Best Employers in Canada
study. "Employees at organizations with high engagement reported better
physical health, lower job stress and work overload, and greater financial
security. In addition, they also believe that their employer's benefits plan
contributes to their overall well-being, although there is room for
improvement with respect to retirement savings programs."

    Engaged and Healthy

    Highly-engaged employees speak positively of their employer, want to
remain with the organization, and are willing to do all they can to help
achieve corporate success. To analyze the data from the Best Employers study,
Hewitt divided participating organizations into three groups - high, moderate
and low - according to their employee engagement scores.
    Fifty-six per cent of employees at high-engagement organizations reported
being in good physical health. That figure dropped to 47 per cent at
moderate-engagement employers and 41 per cent at those with low employee
engagement. With respect to job stress, 28 per cent of employees at
high-engagement employers stated they experienced high stress, while 33 per
cent and 39 per cent did so, respectively, at organizations with moderate and
low engagement. While 15 per cent of employees at high-engagement employers
indicated they had a high degree of work overload, the comparable statistics
were 19 per cent for those with moderate engagement and 22 per cent at
low-engagement organizations
    "Better health, lower job stress and a manageable workload translate into
tangible benefits for employers, particularly in terms of lower absenteeism,"
stated Rochelle Morandini, a senior organizational health consultant at
Hewitt. "When employees were asked about the number of days they'd taken off
from work in the last six months due to emotional, physical or mental fatigue,
low-engagement organizations experienced more than twice as many mean days off
than high-engagement employers (2.17 days versus 1.03 days). This difference
can cost an organization with 1,000 employees upwards of a million dollars a
year in disability costs and lost productivity. While higher engagement
doesn't guarantee better health, a focus on increasing employee engagement may
support health and thus, reduce absenteeism."

    Concern Over Retirement and Other Savings

    In addition to good health, highly engaged employees enjoy a greater
sense of financial well-being in terms of debt management. Almost
three-quarters of those working at high-engagement employers stated they were
comfortable with how they were managing their debt; that figure dropped by 10
per cent at low-engagement organizations to 64 per cent. When asked whether
they were able to pay off their debts over a time that was acceptable to them,
70 per cent of employees at high-engagement employers answered affirmatively.
In contrast, 63 per cent shared that sentiment at moderate-engagement
organizations and 58 per cent at those with low engagement.
    That same sense of security does not extend to the adequacy of retirement
and other savings, even though employees were surveyed prior to the current
economic downturn. Less than half of employees, regardless of engagement
level, believed that they were saving enough today to get the things they want
within the next five years, or that they were currently saving enough for
retirement. "This data suggests that organizations may want to beef up
employee education efforts around retirement income adequacy, particularly
given current market volatility," stated Crawford.
    Employee concern over retirement savings is also reflected in feedback
related to their employer-provided retirement savings programs. Barely half of
employees that work for organizations with high engagement felt they were
taking full advantage of their employer's retirement/savings plan, although
that was 10 per cent higher than at moderate and low-engagement organizations.
When asked whether they were comfortable with the level of investment risk
they were assuming in their organization's retirement/savings plan, 56 per
cent of employees at high-engagement employers answered yes, considerably more
than those working for other organizations. However, 22 per cent of employees
at high-engagement organizations stated that they did not know whether they
were comfortable with that risk.
    "Whenever employees respond that they're not sure whether they're making
the most of their retirement/savings programs, they're giving their employer a
strong signal that more work is needed on communication and education. Given
the significant ongoing cost of these programs, and the message they send
regarding the employer's support for employee financial well-being, more focus
    on communication and education will be well rewarded," said Crawford.

    Taking Advantage of Benefit and Health Plans

    With respect to employee health care benefits, workers at 65 per cent of
high-engagement employers stated they were taking full advantage of their
organization's plan, as compared to 53 per cent at low-engagement employers.
High-engagement employers are more likely to offer employees incentives to
encourage them to improve their health, as well as tools and resources to help
them manage their health.
    A case in point is pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline Inc., which
ranked number 14 on the list of the 50 Best Employers in Canada for 2009, and
has been one of the 50 Best Employers for the last eight years, thanks to its
high employee engagement.
    "As a leading Canadian health care organization, we always strive to
offer a positive work environment by providing programs that encourage a
healthy lifestyle. We want our employees to know their health and well-being
is important to us," said Sandy Fallon, Vice-President of Human Resources for
GlaxoSmithKline Inc. "That focus on healthy employees has helped us to
maintain high employee engagement - a significant contributor to our strong
business results. We integrate health into our culture and provide a variety
of health program options to meet different needs, such as on-site fitness
facilities and trainers, yoga, healthy choices in our cafeteria, resources to
support recovery for employees coping with illness, and resilience training to
managers. Our employees access and use these resources to not only maintain
good health, but to support them in quickly addressing any health concerns
that arise."

    About Hewitt Associates. Hewitt Associates (NYSE:   HEW) provides leading
organizations around the world with expert human resources consulting and
outsourcing solutions to help them anticipate and solve their most complex
benefits, talent, and related financial challenges. Hewitt consults with
companies to design and implement a wide range of human resources, retirement,
investment management, health management, compensation, and talent management
strategies. As a leading outsourcing provider, Hewitt administers health care,
retirement, payroll, and other HR programs to millions of employees, their
families, and retirees. With a history of exceptional client service since
1940, Hewitt has offices in 33 countries, including Canadian offices in
Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Regina, and employs approximately
23,000 associates who are helping make the world a better place to work. For
more information, please visit www.hewitt.com/canada.

    About GlaxoSmithKline Inc. GlaxoSmithKline-one of the world's leading
research-based pharmaceutical and health-care companies - is committed to
improving the quality of life by enabling people to do more, feel better and
live longer. GSK is an Imagine Caring Company and is among the top 15
investors in Canadian research and development, investing more than $178
million in 2007 alone. For company information, please visit www.gsk.ca.

For further information:

For further information: Marcia McDougall, Hewitt Associates, (416)
227-5713, marcia.mcdougall@hewitt.com

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