Canadian Labour and Business Centre Leadership Survey

Management and labour leaders in the public and private sectors, asked what they

considered were the most important indicators of a healthy workplace, identified the

following top five indicators:

Business/Management Labour

Good Working Relationships (70%) Good Working Relationships (75%)

High Morale (69%) High Morale (70%)

Ability to Attract & Retain Employees


Balance of Work & Family Pressures


Low Absenteeism (59%) Safe/Secure Workplaces (51%)

High Motivation (56%) Manageable Stress (46%)

There was clear agreement among management and labour in both the private and public

sectors that the two most important indicators of a healthy workplace were good working

relationships and high morale. Seventy percent, or more, of management and labour

leaders cited both of these. The figures were generally higher in the public sector: good

working relationships were identified by 76 percent of managers and 79 percent of union

leaders compared to 67 percent and 70 percent respectively in the private sector. High

morale was identified by 68 percent of managers and 75 percent of union leaders in the

public sector. The comparable private sector figures were 70 percent and 65 percent

respectively (Charts 1, 2, 3).

The third and fourth ranked choices differed distinctly between management and labour.

Among management, 60 percent indicated that the ability to attract and retain employees

was an important indicator of a healthy workplace and 59 percent indicated that low

absenteeism was a similar indicator. By contrast, labour leaders indicated that balancing

work and family pressures (52 percent) and a safe and secure workplace (51 percent)

were signs of a healthy workplace (Chart 1). The latter was more important in the private

sector, reflecting the differing nature of production.

Generally, these secondary choices were similar in both the private and public sectors,

with the exception that the fourth ranked choices were different in the public sector

(Charts 2 and 3). Public sector management identified high motivation as an important

indicator, whereas public sector labour leaders cited manageable stress as an important

sign of a healthy workplace.

The differences between management and labour may not be as great as these results

suggest. With their traditional perspectives on the workplace the two parties will attach

importance to different measures. Management may tend to focus on performance

measures (absenteeism, recruitment, retention) whereas labour leaders are more

concerned with the impact on the people who are inputs into the production process

(work and family pressures, stress, and safety). Furthermore, different measures may be

linked (e.g., motivation and stress). Highly motivated individuals tend to be able to

manage the demands of their work; being able to manage stress can in turn promote high

motivation. The two perspectives of management and labour may therefore reflect

similar concerns; but each focuses on a different symptom. Consequently, the reported

results for management and labour may overstate their differences in their overall

concerns at the workplace.