Aon's Best Employers in Canada Study has been the country's most comprehensive and widely recognized assessment of workplace excellence. The methodology reflects 20 years of learnings and best practices from Aon Best Employer and employee engagement studies conducted all over the world. Over the last five years alone, data was collected in more than 150 markets from over 5,000 organizations in 68 industries, including over 625,000 employees and more than 600 companies of all sizes in Canada.
This year’s recognized companies include 39 large organizations with more than 400 employees and 41 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs.)
Research shows some compelling benefits of being recognized as a Best Employer. Globally, Aon has found that Best Employers drive four percentage points higher operating profit than the average organization and six percentage points higher sales growth. They also have one-third less staff turnover than their counterparts.
“In an increasingly international business landscape, more and more Canadian companies have been looking for a consistent global standard to assess their work environment and identify ways to improve,” said Neil Crawford, partner and Canada talent practice leader at Aon Hewitt. “The 2016 Best Employers Study provides that standard, while providing a much more comprehensive picture of the qualities that define employer excellence.”
Where previous studies focused on employee engagement as the primary requirement for Best Employer status, this year's study is based on four indices of workplace effectiveness:
- Engagement: Employees speak positively about their employer (say), intend to stay (stay) and are motivated to exert extra effort at work (strive).
- Leadership: Leaders treat employees as valued contributors, engage employees in the vision and lead the organization to success.
- Performance culture: Employees are aligned to organizational goals and are rewarded and recognized for their contribution.
- Employer brand: Employees are proud of being part of the organization and can clearly explain what makes their employer different from others.
The challenge of change
The business environment since the global recession has, arguably, been marked by an unprecedented degree of change. Faced with generally slower economic growth and heightened regulation, while seeking to respond to accommodative monetary policies, companies in Canada and around the world have undertaken new strategies, implemented staff restructuring, or participated in mergers and acquisitions. All of these developments can place enormous stress on the employer-employee dynamic and on organizational leaders.
Aon's global research on Best Employers has found that the factors driving workplace success change in periods of change. For instance, during periods of no change, the visibility of senior leadership is a relatively small contributor to employee engagement. However, during a merger or acquisition – which causes the number of highly engaged employees to dip more than 10 per cent below the global baseline for an average period of two to three years – senior leadership's visibility becomes a top engagement driver. Aon's Best Employers understand the need for best practices in times of change, and respond accordingly.
A Canadian example of how Best Employers successfully navigate change is Intact Financial Corporation, an insurance company with 11,000 employees across the country. Intact began surveying employee engagement with Aon in 2009. During its first year of independence from its previous majority owner, the company was facing the fresh challenge of establishing a new consumer and employer brand. As well, the company undertook a major acquisition in 2011, and consistent with Aon's research, this significant change did disrupt some of the initial momentum Intact had experienced in improving their overall level of employee engagement. Intact continued applying a very disciplined focus on key drivers of engagement, and by 2014 its performance in the Best Employers Study had risen well above the industry average. The key to that success: commitment at all levels of the organization, driven by placing senior leadership and management front and centre – and holding them accountable – to drive employee engagement.
“What we have seen, year in and year out, is that Best Employers are not just good at maintaining best practices, but are also smart and responsive when faced with the challenge of change,” Crawford said. “All companies undergo change, sometimes negative, sometimes positive, but either can have important impacts on employee engagement and performance. Responding effectively begins with a commitment to understanding exactly how effective your employment practices are and, as with Intact, being open to adopting new ways of doing things and getting their leadership team involved ensured that employees stay engaged."
Best Employers in Canada
To be designated a Best Employer using the global standard, each participant's employee survey scores on engagement, leadership, performance culture, and employment brand were assessed against Aon Hewitt's Canadian Survey Database. Organizations who scored in the top 25 per cent of the Canadian database achieved the Platinum Level, while those scoring in the top third achieved Gold level.
This year's Best Employers in Canada study identified 29 large organizations that achieved Platinum status; as well, 12 large organizations qualified for Gold Best Employer status. On average, 80 per cent of employees were engaged at Platinum Level Best Employers this year. At the Gold Level, 72 percent of employees were engaged.
Among small and mid-sized companies (less than 400 employees), 28 qualified as Platinum Best Employers, while 11 achieved Gold status.
Platinum Best Employers:
- Aecon Group Inc.
- Allstate Insurance Company of Canada
- ATB Financial
- Bennett Jones LLP
- Birchwood Automotive Group
- Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust
- Chubb Insurance Company of Canada
- CIMA+ Partenaire de genie
- Clark Builders
- Davis Automotive Group
- Delta Hotels and Resorts
- Edward Jones
- EllisDon Corporation
- Farm Credit Canada
- Federal Express Canada Ltd.
- Intact Financial Corporation
- Keg Restaurants Ltd.
- Keyera Corp.
- Libro Credit Union
- LoyaltyOne, Co
- Maritime Travel
- Marriott International
- MNP LLP
- OpenRoad Auto Group Ltd.
- PCL Constructors Inc.
- Purdys' Chocolatier
- Stikeman Elliott LLP
- The Co-operators Group Ltd.
- The Dilawri Group
Gold Best Employers:
- Banque Nationale
- Cintas Canada Limited
- Cossette Communication Inc.
- Equitable Bank
- Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP
- La Coop fédérée
- Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
- Mouvement Desjardins
- Pembina Pipeline Corporation
- Pomeroy Lodging
- Skyline Group of Companies
Best Small and Medium-size Employers in Canada
Platinum Best Employers:
- Assumption Life
- Back in Motion Rehab Inc.
- BlueShore Financial
- Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA)
- Cybertech Group of Companies
- DLGL Technologies Corporation
- DevFacto Technologies Inc.
- Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network
- GEF Seniors Housing
- Gibraltar Solutions Inc.
- Grantek Systems Integration
- Intelex Technologies Inc.
- Jayman BUILT Group of Companies
- Klick Health
- LGM Financial Services Inc.
- National Leasing
- PGL Environmental Consultants
- Réal Huot Inc.
- RLB LLP
- Ryan, ULC
- Solutions 2 GO Inc.
- Solvera Solutions
- The Berkeley Retirement Residences
- Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company
- Vigilant Global
Gold Best Employers:
- Addenda Capital Inc. (The Co-operators Group Ltd.)
- Boa-Franc S.E.N.C.
- Boone Plumbing and Heating Supply Inc.
- Groupe financier PEAK Inc.
- Kawartha Credit Union Limited
- Kingston Ross Pasnak LLP
- Lakeside Process Controls Ltd.
- Medgate Inc.
- Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, Inc.
- OPTIMUS - SBR Inc.
- The Sovereign General Insurance Company (The Co-operators Group Ltd.)
A total of 236 Canadian employers were assessed this year as part of Aon's Best Employers studies. Aon's methodology reflects 20 years of learnings and best practices from Aon Best Employer and employee engagement studies conducted all over the world.