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Some of the most prevalent relationships in a working adult’s life are with their colleagues and employer. According to the World Health Organization, more than half of the global population (58 per cent) spends one-third of their adult life at work – a number that is often staggering when compared to how much time individuals spend with family and friends. Whether positioned in a traditional work setting or working remotely, each day employees are called upon to be their most productive selves for at least eight hours and required to put their best foot forward to contribute to growth for their organization.

Spending this much time in a workplace setting has the potential to impact an employees’ health in a positive or negative way. For employers, fostering a culture that contributes to the success of employees is as important as creating an environment that makes employees feel valued and heard. Attracting and retaining top talent depends on an organization’s ability to inspire its employees, keep them motivated and ensure that they are excited to come to work each day.

For companies at the forefront of employee well-being, this has been done by establishing a holistic approach to well-being. Total health – providing support across mental, physical, financial and social well-being – has been proven to boost productivity, engagement and employee satisfaction, while subsequently resulting in an overall improvement on organizations’ bottom lines. Over the last four years, this is a trend that Morneau Shepell has monitored in the companies that we work with – and one that we have seen a number of organizations succeed in to improve employee wellness in their respective workplaces.

Our 2019 study on total health, developed alongside our Employee Recommended Workplace Award program, found that employee recognition, creating a respectful workplace and effective communication from senior leadership are the key differences that set companies with the highest total health scores apart. Of the top scoring workplaces, 88 per cent of employees reported that senior leadership is committed to ensuring employee psychological safety, 68 per cent reported their companies foster a culture of respect and 67 per cent reported that recognition and rewards are directly related to their success.

When we looked at the impact of total health on employees, we found that almost all employees (92 per cent) at high performing organizations recommend their organization as a great place to work, while only seven in 10 (69 per cent) in low performing workplaces felt the same. This is compelling information that demonstrates there is an evident need for organizations to begin looking at the impact of their well-being offering on employees’ view of the company.

To create a place that employees are excited about, employers need to communicate with their workers to see what would be most beneficial to them. We’ve seen organizations implement a number of effective initiatives, including formal career planning, flexible work hours, respectful workplace policies and mental health initiatives.

Since its inception, the Employee Recommended Workplace Award, co-created with The Globe and Mail in 2016, has successfully seen a growing number of organizations committed to providing healthier work environments, demonstrating interest of some of Canada’s top leaders in taking action to improve their employees’ total health. In its fourth annual iteration, we announced 63 Employee Recommended Workplaces for 2020 and the winning organizations in 12 business categories will be named at The Globe and Mail Solving Workplace Challenges Conference on March 24.

While it’s always encouraging to see the outstanding initiatives implemented by these organizations to create a healthy environment that supports employee well-being, we believe there is still significant room for improvement. We continue to encourage Canadian organizations to elevate their benefits and well-being programs, while also reviewing physical, mental, work and life health policies more holistically to ensure employees are receiving the support they need to continue growing their individual careers, while also contributing to their organization’s bottom line.

Congratulations to all of our Employee Recommended Workplaces for 2020. We look forward to seeing the innovation these organizations continue to demonstrate in the near future and for years to come.

Stephen Liptrap, president and chief executive officer at Morneau Shepell. For the full list of winners and to learn more about the Employee Recommended Workplace Award, click here.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at

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