Wanted: Career monogamy - Employees seek long-term relationships with
employers, according to new Towers Watson study

Canadian employees rethink priorities and focus on longer-term commitment to employers in return for real career development and security

TORONTO, March 16 /CNW/ - The 'Great Recession' may have ended, but its impact on the views of the Canadian workforce may, quite literally, be life-long, according to the results of new research from global professional services company Towers Watson. The Global Workforce Study - a biennial survey of employee attitudes and workplace trends - confirms that the recession has altered the way employees view their work today. In contrast to earlier studies, the 2010 results indicate that Canadians have moved away from the employment notion of being a 'free agent' to become the 'marrying kind' - seeking lifetime careers with just one or two employers.

Employees looking for job security and career development opportunities

A surprising 8 out of 10 employees now want to 'go steady' for the long-term with their employer, with 43% saying they want to work for a single company for their entire career, and 34% wanting to work for no more than two to three companies over their career span. While the move toward workplace loyalty will no doubt be welcomed by employers as the economic recovery takes hold, organizations should note that employees don't perceive the relationship as a one-sided courtship. Instead, they are looking to their employers for a reciprocal investment in the form of learning and development opportunities in particular.

"The recession has prompted many employees to rethink their priorities and focus on a longer-term commitment to their employer in return for security and real career development," said Ofelia Isabel, a Towers Watson leader in Canada with expertise in rewards and talent management. "The survey results tell us that what Canadians really want from their employers is the opportunity to learn and advance in their chosen professions along well-understood career paths."

The study shows that employees see career opportunity as the top reason to stay with an employer. It is also the second most important factor influencing engagement on the job, following inspirational leadership. In addition, survey respondents said that the potential to grow with a company is among the top four most important reasons to join an organization, along with pay, vacation and health benefits.

Retaining top talent: employers must listen to employee concerns

The recession has helped employees focus on what they want and need from their employers - with 60% asking for more mentoring and 59% for more clarity on defined career paths. Unfortunately, it appears that organizations are failing to listen or tap into their employees' interests and needs. The study found that:

    -   Only 39% of employees think that their leaders are committed to
        developing employees and the talent critical to their organization's
    -   Forty-nine percent believe there are no career advancement
        opportunities in their current roles and another 39% believe they
        must leave their organization and join another in order to advance to
        a higher level job
    -   Over half of Canadians (55%) say they are often frustrated in their
        current roles

"These numbers should raise significant flags for employers who are looking to get the most from their workforce coming out of the recession," said Keri Alletson, a Consultant and member of the Canadian research team at Towers Watson. "There is willingness on the part of employees to make a personal investment in skills, knowledge and commitment, but it's up to employers to equip them to act by giving them the tools and training they need to be confident and successful."

Growing old together: Retirement security a new focus

Respondents' attitudes about retirement add another new element to the employment deal. The study reveals that competitive retirement benefits are now one of the top five attraction drivers for prospective recruits. In fact, the lure of a better pension elsewhere is cited by employees as the second most important factor influencing their decision to leave an organization, after higher pay.

However, while the overwhelming majority of respondents (83%) agreed that providing for their financial future is their responsibility, more than half (57%) don't feel well equipped to manage their retirement income needs.

Alletson noted that, "while employees 'get' that they're primarily responsible for their financial security in retirement, they don't feel they have the understanding, education or tools to make the right decisions. Certainly, the stock market's recent impact on RRSPs and personal savings has underscored the validity of their concerns."

Canadians are clearly looking for more support from their employers when it comes to retirement planning. Sixty-five percent are asking for more regular communications on rewards and benefit programs, and 62% are asking for greater simplicity on how programs are designed and administered.

"As our research shows, employees are looking to partner with their employers in fostering within each person the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to effectively manage their careers and financial futures," said Isabel. "The big question is, are employers ready and willing to accept the proposal?"

About the Study

These findings are part of the Towers Watson Global Workforce Study 2010, a survey of more than 20,000 employees in 22 markets around the world to gauge employee views on the changing nature of the employment deal. With its worldwide scope and reach, the Global Workforce Study is the most comprehensive analysis of the post-recession employee mindset available today. In Canada, employees were surveyed online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Towers Watson between November and December 2009. The margin of error for the Canadian results is 3.07%. The research builds upon several previous Global Workforce Studies to provide companies with actionable insights around employee behaviours, opinions and engagement levels.

About Towers Watson

Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of employee benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at www.towerswatson.com.

SOURCE Towers Watson

For further information: For further information: Laura Snell, (416) 355-7406, Laura.Snell@ketchum.com

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