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Aon Hewitt Survey Indicates Canadian Organizations Lack Confidence in Leaders’ Ability to Drive Success


Despite Increased Demand for New Hires, Leadership Ineffectiveness Threatens Employee Attraction and Retention


TORONTO – The 2011 Canadian Talent Survey released today by Aon Hewitt, the global human resource consulting and outsourcing solutions business of Aon Corporation (NYSE: AON), finds that many organizations doubt their leaders’ ability to meet the challenges of today’s post-recession environment.

Aon Hewitt surveyed 386 organizations nationwide earlier this year, receiving responses from all levels of employees, ranging from top executives to support staff. The majority of respondents were either directors (32 per cent) or managers (30 per cent), primarily in human resources (HR) roles.

The survey results found that leaders play a vital role in delivering desired customer service (53 per cent), meeting business goals (40 per cent) and profitability targets (40 per cent), and retaining talent (35 per cent). However, only 14 per cent believe their leaders are extremely effective at delivering quality service, while their ability to meet business goals and profitability targets is ranked at eight per cent and ten per cent, respectively. As for retaining talent, just five per cent rated their leaders as extremely effective.

“This crisis in confidence regarding leadership effectiveness does not bode well for the future success of some organizations,” said Robert Carlyle, vice president with Aon Hewitt in Toronto. “Now that the Canadian economy is recovering, survey respondents named employee engagement as their primary post-recession business concern, followed by the retention of top talent. If leaders aren’t able to keep pace with shifting demands, they run the risk of losing key employees to competitors.”

According to Aon Hewitt, leaders must be more creative in this post-recession environment. Key capabilities include:
• Focusing on the most valuable talent and pay for performance;
• Demonstrating speed and agility;
• Developing middle management;
• Increasing employee engagement; and
• Developing leadership resiliency.

Results from Aon Hewitt’s annual Best Employers in Canada study revealed that employee engagement increased during the recession, due to the limited employment alternatives. Now that the economic downturn seems to be at an end and more job opportunities exist, employees’ commitment to their employer may be wavering if they’re not fully engaged.

A focus on middle management is also important. “Leaders must invest in developing middle managers – they’re the ones who can bridge the gap between leadership strategy and employee actions and can effect change,” stated Carlyle. (Aon Hewitt will share more insight regarding leadership best practices and how to effectively develop the next generation of leaders when the results of its Top Companies for Leaders study are revealed this fall.)

Hiring Trends
In addition, the Canadian Talent Survey revealed that 39 per cent of respondents are planning to hire more employees in 2011 than they did in 2010, and only 13 per cent expect to hire fewer employees this year than they did last year. However, just 24 per cent of organizations believe they are very or extremely effective at hiring quality employees. Half of the responding organizations say they are effective at securing quality hires and 26 per cent think they are only somewhat effective or not at all effective at hiring quality workers.

According to Aon Hewitt, one of the reasons for this poor perspective on organizations’ ability to effectively hire quality employees is due to the fact that many HR departments lack recruiting resources to process and screen the large number of candidates applying for positions. Forty per cent if respondents state that it is very or extremely important for then to fill positions faster, while only 17 per cent think that they are very or extremely effective in doing so.

“Improving the hiring process is critical if employers are planning to ramp up their number of new hires,” said Carlyle. “We are seeing organizations focus on improving the candidate experience, upgrading selection and assessment approaches that will yield increased performance from new hires, and redesigning the on-boarding process.”

The survey results reveal additional information regarding Canadian employers’ hiring plans:
Just over half (51 per cent) of respondents agree or strongly agree that they have a stated HR strategy and plan.

When recruiting entry-level employees, the three sources that organizations rely on the most are employee referrals, job boards and unsolicited applications received through the company website. For more experienced hires, employers again turn to employee referrals and job boards, but also look to agencies for help in finding candidates.

According to 28 per cent of respondents, it is not important for their organization to leverage social media for recruitment. That’s just as well, given that 38 per cent believe their employer is ineffective in leveraging social media for this purpose.

About this Survey
Aon Hewitt’s 2011 Canadian Talent Survey examines the talent practices, strategies and challenges employers face as Canada emerges from the recession. Findings show that organizations are optimistic and cautiously beginning to change their focus from reducing costs to growth strategies. To receive a copy of the survey highlights report, please contact us at

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About Aon Hewitt
Aon Hewitt is the global leader in human resource consulting and outsourcing solutions. The company partners with organizations to solve their most complex benefits, talent and related financial challenges, and improve business performance. Aon Hewitt designs, implements, communicates and administers a wide range of human capital, retirement, investment management, health care, compensation and talent management strategies. With more than 29,000 professionals in 90 countries, Aon Hewitt makes the world a better place to work for clients and their employees. For more information on Aon Hewitt, please visit

About Aon
Aon Corporation (NYSE: AON) is the leading global provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing. Through its more than 59,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to deliver distinctive client value via innovative and effective risk management and workforce productivity solutions. Aon’s industry-leading global resources and technical expertise are delivered locally in over 120 countries. Named the world’s best broker by Euromoney magazine’s 2008, 2009 and 2010 Insurance Survey, Aon also ranked highest on Business Insurance’s listing of the world’s insurance brokers based on commercial retail, wholesale, reinsurance and personal lines brokerage revenues in 2008 and 2009. A.M. Best deemed Aon the number one insurance broker based on revenues in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and Aon was voted best insurance intermediary 2007-2010, best reinsurance intermediary 2006-2010, best captives manager 2009-2010, and best employee benefits consulting firm 2007-2009 by the readers of Business Insurance. Visit for more information on Aon and to learn about Aon’s global partnership and shirt sponsorship with Manchester United.


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