Successful Diverse Workplaces Focus on Employee Engagement, According to Hewitt Associates

    Best Employers in Canada Study Provides Insight into Creating Inclusive
    Work Environment

    TORONTO, Jan. 9 /CNW/ - As the demand for skilled labour in Canada begins
to exceed supply, employers will look to previously untapped sources of talent
to fill employee ranks. However, research conducted by Hewitt Associates, a
global human resources services company, as part of the 2008 Best Employers in
Canada and Best Small & Medium Employers in Canada studies indicates that
organizations are not likely to retain diverse employees if they do not
recognize their unique needs and adapt their work environment accordingly.
    "The Canadian workforce is becoming more diverse by necessity as the
traditional labour force shrinks," said Neil Crawford, leader of Hewitt's Best
Employers in Canada study. "Organizations are looking in every corner of the
country - and other parts of the world - to identify and attract potential
employees. The result will be a vastly diverse workforce across a range of
dimensions including age, gender, ethnicity, language, religion, sexual
orientation, physical and mental ability. Human resources programs designed by
Baby Boomers for Baby Boomers aren't going to cut it for this new wave of
    Many of the almost 200 organizations that participated in the 2008 Best
Employers studies already have diverse workforces. Employee engagement - the
degree of emotional and intellectual commitment employees have for their
employer - is high at many of these organizations in spite of the complexity
of managing a diverse workforce. Feedback from the employees themselves as
well as an examination of how these organizations are changing their
workplaces provides guidance for other employers.

    More Work Required to Create Inclusive Workplaces

    Over 100,000 workers responded to the employee opinion survey, one of the
instruments used in the annual Best Employers studies. Questions were asked to
determine each employee's level of engagement - how likely they are to speak
positively about their employer, stay with an organization and be inspired to
go "above and beyond" in the work they do. On average, 64 per cent of
employees were considered engaged at participating organizations.

    Employees were given the option of identifying their individual
demographic characteristics in the anonymous survey. There was sufficient
representation from a number of employee groups to be able to reach
statistically relevant conclusions regarding employee engagement among
different demographic groups. Key findings include the following:

    -   On average, 63 per cent of Canadian workers born in Canada are
        engaged. The average for Canadian workers born outside of Canada is
        68 per cent.

    -   The average engagement score for employees whose first language is
        English is 63 per cent. For those whose first language is French, it
        is 68 per cent. And for those whose first language is something other
        than English or French, their engagement score is, on average, 70 per

    -   For those who identify themselves as Aboriginal (North American
        Indian, Métis or Inuit), the average engagement score is 64 per cent.
        It is 65 per cent for respondents who do not identify themselves as

    -   Employees who are members of a visible minority (persons other than
        Aboriginal peoples who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in
        colour) have an average engagement score of 65 per cent, the same as
        those who do not belong to this demographic group.

    -   Persons who consider themselves to be, or believe that an employer
        might consider them to be, a person with a disability (e.g., long-
        term or recurring physical, mental or learning impairment) have an
        average engagement score of 55 per cent, a full 10 percentage points
        below the average score of those who do not have a disability.

    -   Average engagement scores increase with age. Seventy-eight percent of
        the oldest employees are engaged, while only 63 per cent of the
        youngest are.

    -   Sixty-four per cent of men are engaged versus 66 per cent of women.

    -   While engagement is high for recently hired employees - 75 per cent
        for those who have less than a year's service - it drops dramatically
        after that to 65 per cent for those who have between one and two
        years' service. Engagement doesn't begin to pick up until employees
        have more than 10 years' service, reaching an average of 72 per cent
        when they have been with a company for more than 25 years.

    "Hewitt's research indicates that Canadian organizations are having
significant success in assimilating many demographic segments," stated
Crawford. "Of the four groups designated under the federal Employment Equity
Act, women and visible minorities have engagement scores that are at least on
par with other employees, with Aboriginal employees vary close to par. There
is clearly more work to be done to fully engage disabled employees. This is
particularly important with the increasing acknowledgement and acceptance of a
much broader definition of physical and mental conditions that impact an
individual's ability to perform their job."
    The statistics related to age and length of service are of real concern,
however, regardless of other demographics. "When engagement scores suffer such
a significant drop after the first year on the job, it's clear that employees
don't feel like they're getting what they were promised or they are not a good
fit for the organization that hired them," said Crawford. "Once the
honeymoon's over, they'll start to look for another position, particularly if
they are younger employees."

    Inclusion: Engaging a Diverse Mix of Employees

    What can employers do to create a more inclusive work environment and
drive employee engagement higher? The following practices are used by
organizations that have high engagement scores for diverse members of their
employee population.

    1.  Establish a business case for diversity. It's essential that all
        employees - front-line workers right through to leaders - understand
        the organization's need to build a highly diverse workforce in order
        to get their support.

    2.  Increase awareness and knowledge. Employees, particularly managers,
        may need some education to make them more aware of cultural or other
        differences. Managers need the training, coaching and support so that
        they can confidently manage a diverse team on a day-to-day basis

    3.  Use targeted communication to get the message across to different
        groups. Without targeted communication focused on specific groups,
        many employees may not understand the value of their current
        employment deal. For example, younger employees may not recognize the
        value of a retirement savings plan.

    4.  Understand what various employees want from their employment
        experience. Hewitt's Best Employer research has looked at what
        factors attract and retain different demographic segments of the
        labour market. Some factors are common to all employee groups-doing
        interesting work, having a supportive supervisor, work/life balance
        and a sense of achievement. However, other factors, like salary, are
        more important for some groups than others.

    5.  Build a flexible employment deal that can meet a broad range of
        needs. Increasing workforce diversity means that employee needs will
        be more diverse. The best response is to make the employment "deal"
        or arrangement more flexible. Regardless of demographics, Best
        Employers data shows that employees who say they have flexibility in
        their work arrangements are more engaged. Such arrangements can
        include working from home at least part of the time, adjustable work
        hours, the flexibility to leave work for short periods to deal with
        personal commitments or to adjust duties/responsibilities to meet
        personal commitments.

    "Creating an inclusive workplace that retains and engages a diverse
workforce is complex," stated Crawford. "However, increasing diversity needs
to be an integral part of every organization's business strategy. Some
employers have done a great job of attracting a diverse workforce-their
challenge is take action to fully engage these employees to ensure they stay
with the organization and strive to make it a success."

    To see the 2008 list of the 50 Best Employers in Canada, please visit the
Best Employers Web site at For additional
information about the Best Employers in Canada 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,

    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

For further information:

For further information: Marcia McDougall, Hewitt Associates, (416)

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