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Careers Canadians report far higher job satisfaction and engagement than global averages

Canada is home to some of the most satisfied and engaged workers in the world.

In numerous studies, Canadians report higher levels of workplace satisfaction and engagement than global averages, even when compared with similar economies and cultures. High job satisfaction and engagement is associated with better employee mental health, lower turnover rates and better business results overall.

A 2018 international survey of 8,000 workers by Monster Canada, for example, found that nearly two-thirds of Canadian employees are content with their jobs and approximately one quarter love them so much they would work for free; more than any other country in the survey. The next most satisfied country was the Netherlands, where 57 per cent either like or love their jobs, followed by 55 per cent in India, 53 per cent in the United States, 46 per cent in Britain and 43 per cent in France.

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A recent survey by Canadian office supply provider Hamster also found that 83 per cent of Canadians are satisfied with their job, 90 per cent are engaged in their work and 81 per cent are motivated by their work. By comparison, a recent study by Aon found that only 65 per cent of employees are engaged in their work around the world.

In 2019, Canada was ranked 9th overall in the World Happiness Report, down from 7th the previous year out of a total of 156. The country’s overall well-being only trails behind a handful of Nordic and Northern-European nations such as Finland, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, as well as New Zealand.

While there is a distinction between workplace satisfaction and overall happiness, Monster Canada’s senior vice-president and general manager Angela Payne says the two are inextricably linked.

“Happiness at work is not just about the job necessarily, it’s about your standard of living, what resources you have accessible to you,” she said. “The environment of the country and its social policies and everything else helps encourage employers to be an employer of choice, and that is creating happier people.”

In 2018, John Helliwell, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics and co-editor of the 2019 World Happiness Report, published a study on the social contexts that promote happiness. In it he discovered that those who regard their employer as a partner rather than a boss see significantly smaller disparities in overall happiness and satisfaction between weekends and weekdays.

“That gap [in overall well-being] between weekday and weekend is less than half as big as it is for somebody who regards them as a boss,” explained Mr. Helliwell. “That tells you once again that if you enjoy your workplace and think of yourself as working together with the people around you, there’s less of a weekend effect in happiness.”

In fact, Mr. Helliwell categorizes the association between workplace satisfaction and overall satisfaction as “very large and statistically significant.”

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The primary factors that contribute to workplace engagement and satisfaction are relatively few and quite straightforward, according to Ceridian chief people and culture officer Lisa Sterling.

“If people love what they do, and they find their work to be compelling and meaningful, and they really enjoy the people they do their work with, there is a higher level of discretionary effort, a high level of loyalty, motivation, engagement and satisfaction,” she said.

Ms. Sterling emphasizes that workplace satisfaction and engagement goes well beyond free lunches, ping-pong tables and other superficial perks. She explains that employees are more likely to be satisfied with their work if they are able to pursue projects they find meaningful, feel close to their colleagues and feel that their employer is making an effort to advance their career.

Ms. Payne adds that improving employee engagement has a high return on investment for employers that commit themselves to providing a better working environment.

In today’s competitive talent market, employers are under increased pressure to keep their employees happy, or they may risk losing them, Ms. Payne says.

“It’s a circle, in my opinion,” she adds. “Happy workers make productive work environments, which make good businesses, and good businesses have happy workers.”

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