Have engineering companies found a secret for successful employee engagement?

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Mining in Ontario continues to face current and future human resource challenges due to industry growth and pending retirements from the existing workforce.  Attracting and retaining employees for the right jobs in the right locations is a key strategy to be successful. 

The Mining Industry Human Resource Council (MiHR) indicates Ontario’s mining industry will need between 5,578 and 17,000-plus new employees leading up to 2018.  That range is based on different scenarios for global demand of metal and minerals.  Ontario Mining Association President Chris Hodgson is a Director on the MiHR Board.

A recently released best employer study rates employee engagement as a key indicator for success in attracting in retaining workers.  Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers in Canada study, which looked at 261 employers with a total of 112,000 employees, said the average engagement score for the top 50 companies was 78% while the average engagement score of the other companies was 58%.

Employees are engaged, according to Aon Hewitt, when they speak positively about their employer to others, are committed to staying with their current employer and are motivated by their company’s leaders, managers, culture and values to go above and beyond normal duties to contribute to their company’s success.  This is the thirteenth year Aon Hewitt has carried out its best employers in Canada study.

Trends identified by the study indicated employee engagement can wane over time without strong employer programs and actions, that engagement levels generally increase with age, that employees with more senior jobs are more engaged and that the size of a company has little to do with engagement levels.

One Ontario Mining Association member – consulting engineering firm Hatch, which is based in Mississauga – seems to have discovered many of the secrets of successful employee engagement and has made this top 50 employers list.  In fact according to this study, engineers are more engaged in their work than any other industry in Canada.

“Engineering firms tend to be well set up for employee ownership,” said Neil Crawford of Aon Hewitt.  “That is certainly true at Hatch, which is now entirely employee owned and that lets the company take the long view,” said John Pearson, Global Managing Director at Hatch.  “Because they’re not focused on quarterly returns, Hatch executives can maintain staffing levels through lean seasons and invest in technology that might not pay immediate dividends.”

“The key to keeping good workers happy is to let them do their work the way they see fit,” said Mr. Pearson.  “We operate in an environment of complete trust and when you take clever people and you unleash them in this environment, you get the absolute best out of them.”  “Engineering in general is about seeing your ideas turned into reality,” said Emily Moore, Director of Technology Development at Hatch.  “The work creates a visible end: It satisfies a human desire to leave a mark on the world.”

Young engineers echo the similar sentiments.  Nickell Aktarian is an engineer-in-training with consulting firm CH2M Hill, which is also an OMA member.  “It is also surprisingly creative work,” she said.  “I get to come to work every day and know that I’m going to do something cool to solve a problem.”   

The list of Canada’s top 50 employers from this study can be found in the October 31 issue of Maclean’s magazine and the November 3 edition of La Presse. Aon Hewitt is a global company involved in human resource consulting and outsourcing.  It has more than 29,000 employees in 90 countries. The OMA congratulates Hatch on achieving this positive recognition.