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This article highlights some findings from the total health benchmarks from the 2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award. These benchmarks include aspects of mental health, physical health, workplace experience and life. Readers interested in additional benchmarks can purchase the benchmark report in The Globe and Mail DataStore. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Register your company for 2018 at www.employeerecommended.com.

The 2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award Benchmark report shows that medium-sized companies (100 to 499 employees) have the highest scores for total health, followed by small companies (40 to 99 employees) and then large companies (500 or more employees).

The report, which uses aggregated data from organizations that participated in the 2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award, gives benchmarks for the total health index and each of the four total health pillars (physical health, mental health, workplace experience and life health) that were included in the award employee survey.

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The Employee Recommended Workplace Award was created in a partnership between The Globe and Mail and Moreau Shepell to identify employers across Canada that excel in supporting employee health and wellbeing.

The goal of the report is to provide organizational leaders with a set of benchmark norms that can offer insight on trends across the four pillars, as well as findings as to what is having a positive impact on the total health of their employees. This insight will be helpful for Employee Recommended Workplace Award participants, which can benchmark themselves against peer-size organizations using their scores from their Employer Report, as well as for organizations looking for overall trend insights based on their size.

Awareness

The value of benchmarks is deeply entrenched in awareness. Using aggregated data gathered, we provide a range of values describing what constitutes below-average, average and above-average performers. Organizations can observe how they're doing on different scales against the group norms, or see trends among different groups within work forces.

Accountability

The benchmarks provide employers direction on how they're doing against their peers or point out trends in total health that are impacting employees' mental health. Total health success is dependent on both employees and employers taking accountability for what they can control. Employers can offer programs to their staff, but the success of these programs is dependent on employees' use of the programs and their perceptions of its effectiveness. It's helpful for employers to see what programs are generally impacting positively employees' total health.

Action

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Organizations that participated in the 2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award have access to their own data from their Employer Report and can compare it with the benchmarks in order to see where they fall against their peers. This information can be a motivator to act, with informed insight as to which areas to focus on in order to improve the overall total health of their employees.

Organizations that did not participate in the 2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award can use the benchmark findings to gain insight into emerging trends at comparably-sized organizations as they look at the total health of their organizations. More and more organizations are understanding that what employees think impacts what they do in and out of work, and that the choices they make impact their overall health and wellbeing. We can't separate employees from their day-to-day lives outside of work.

Employers are beginning to understand that employees' choices and perceptions ultimately define their health, engagement and productivity at work. Productivity must go through health; without it, there's no way to guarantee long-term sustainability.

Several interesting trends emerged from the first set of ERWA findings for 2017. Following is a high-level overview.

Risk behaviours – Employees with a greater number of healthy behaviours and fewer at-risk behaviours (such as smoking) reported higher total health index scores. Additionally, large companies reported the greatest number of at-risk behaviours.

Leadership trust – Employees of medium-sized companies have the greatest levels of trust in senior leadership; the lowest levels were observed in large companies.

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Respectful workplace – Around 25 per cent of employees reported that they felt they had been treated unfairly at work.

Programming – Companies offering addiction support programming report significantly higher life pillar scores (due to better relationship and financial health).

As well, companies offering healthy eating programs reported significantly higher physical health pillar scores. Companies that offered addiction support programming (such as smoking cessation) had significantly higher life pillar scores than those that did not.

The Employee Recommended Workplace Award survey asks employees who participated in core company programs what they felt was the impact of the program on them. This measure can help employers evaluate which organizational programs employees are participating in and are positively impacting employee's total health.

The Employee Recommended Workplace Award benchmark report provides various total health benchmarks to understand how small, medium, large, private, public and government organizations across Canada are doing in each of the four pillars (physical, mental, work and life) and overall total health index.

Not only can the benchmarking help an organization drive strategy, it can also be a key piece to retaining and attracting top talent.

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With the growing demand for comprehensive health and wellness strategies, the Employee Recommended Workplace Award has been designed for employers that are supporting employees beyond their basic health needs to foster a respectful, engaging and productive workplace.

To see additional details, you can purchase the 2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award Benchmark Report at The Globe and Mail DataStore.

Bill Howatt is chief of research and development, workforce productivity at Morneau Shepell.

Sean Cianflone is a data scientist at Morneau Shepell.

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