Sunday, December 07, 2008

So What Else Is New?

At some point last year I saw a report on a study that was conducted by Towers Perrin and which was reported by a Canadian newspaper. I thought it was pretty interesting despite the paper's understandable focus on the the study's stats as they related to Canada.

As I sometimes do, I saved the article and put it in what my wife likes to call "a nice safe place" which translated means I forgot about it and when I remembered it, I couldn't find it or remember where I put it.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I stumbled across it again, and while the world economy today is vastly different than when this study was done (over a year ago) the basic "learnings" as they relate to employee retention still I think remain on very solid ground. Indeed, with the layoffs, etc., that we are seeing in the current environment, the retention of "A" players is even more important.

No matter what the environment, there is great truth to the notion that people (read employers) will always be willing to pay a premium for quality.

Here are some headlines in terms of what the study had to say:

Despite people's strong desire to become 'engaged' in their work, meaning they're willing to go the extra mile to help their company succeed, only 23% in Canada (vs 21% globally) are currently engaged at work. Of serious concern for management and investors, 32% of Canadian employees are partly to fully 'disengaged'. This highlights a significant gap - which Towers Perrin has dubbed the "engagement gap" - between the discretionary effort that people actually want to invest and companies' effectiveness at tapping into this effort to enhance business performance.

The study found that companies with the highest levels of employee engagement achieve better financial results and are more successful in retaining their most valued employees than companies with lower levels of engagement.

The study clearly demonstrates that the engagement gap poses an array of business risks. For instance, more than 80% of engaged employees believe they can and do contribute to the quality of products and services and to customer satisfaction. But only half as many of the disengaged share that view. Interestingly, the study reveals that Canadians embrace a more optimistic approach to their working life, with a slightly higher learning orientation compared to the global norms. For instance, 69% (versus 58% globally) stated they tend to invest time and effort beyond what is required, and 90% (versus 84% globally) said they enjoy challenging work that allows them to learn new skills.

"You can't hire or buy an engaged workforce - only leadership can build it," concludes Aselstine. "While employees want to invest more of themselves to help their employers, our study clearly concludes the onus to tap into this productivity reservoir lies with management's ability to cultivate an engaged and fully productive workforce. However, there is no 'one size fits all' solution.

So what else is new?

Additional detail about the Towers Perrin Global Workforce Study is available at

1 comment:

Martin Buckland said...


Great article. I must have missed the report!

As you stated, a lot has changed in the world since the report was published. Canada is feeling the pinch of the global economic slowdown, however not as much as other G8 countries.