A recent study conducted by Forum Research and ResearchNow on behalf of Meredith Page & Associates (mp2strategic.com), shows striking new evidence that Canadians feel less able to contribute new and useful ideas in the workplace than are American workers. The study’s results - released today - show that 64% of American workers agree that leaders in their organizations value people and processes that create useful change. This stands in contrast to Canadian workers, of whom only 58% agree.
Worryingly, the gap between American and Canadian respondents grows even larger for younger workers (at 70% and 58% for Americans and Canadians under 45 respectively).
This new evidence is of concern for Canadian firms, governments and policy shapers who are interested in maintaining and improving Canada’s competitive position in the global economy. With Canada recently slipping to 25th most innovation-friendly nation according to the World Economic Forum, and with the Canada-U.S. innovation gap slowly growing, it is clear that Canadian firms will need to address issues related to the organizational culture of innovation in order to effectively compete.
A Gender Gap in Canadian Attitudes toward Leaders’ Acceptance of Change
Gender differences were also seen in Canada. Among Canadian men 61% agreed that leaders value people and processes that create useful change compared to just 54% of women (and only 26% who strongly agreed).
Few gender differences were seen among U.S. workers where 63% of men and 64% of women agreed that leaders where they worked valued people and processes that created useful change.
U.S. Organisations Lead in Encouraging Creativity among Younger Workers
When asked, a full 70% of American workers under the age of 45 agreed that innovation and creativity were encouraged in their workplace compared to just 61% of Canadian workers in the same age group. Clearly, Canadian employers need to do a better job of listening to creative and innovative ideas from their base of younger employees of both genders.
Effective teams from different backgrounds- A slight edge for Canadian workers
Workers in both countries agree that people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together in effective teams with 72% of Americans and 74% of Canadians agreeing with this statement. The results were similar for those under the age of 45 where three quarters agreed with this statement.
Among those who strongly agreed, the difference was greater. Younger Canadian workers are more likely to strongly agree, with 44% indicating that they strongly agreed compared to just 34% of Americans who did. Canadian women were also more likely to strongly agree (44%) compared to 39% of Canadian men and compared to just 31% of both American men and women.
In both countries leaders’ acceptance of change confirms technology investment; high in manufacturing, low in the public sector
A key finding is that organizations seen as having the technology necessary to succeed also have leaders who are open to change. Combined results for both countries show that in manufacturing 67% of employees agreed that leaders valued useful change and 58% agree that their employers made the investments in technology necessary to succeed. In the public sector only 47% agreed that leaders accepted change and just 36% agreed that employers made the investments necessary to succeed.
Commenting on the results Doug Meredith of Meredith Page and Associates (mp2strategic.com) said “the results are consistent with 2014 economic research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) showing that Canada’s competitiveness lags that of other OECD countries. Innovation especially is an area of concern. Organizations need to be agile to face increasing global competition which requires constant innovation and leadership. These results show that a key obstacle is that Canadian organizations are not encouraging creativity and innovation as much as those in the U.S. Our business leaders need to put the tools in place to track their performance in these areas. They also need to create cultures and provide the training and resources necessary to encourage innovation and sustainable competitiveness, especially among younger workers and both genders. This can mean both disruptive innovation as well as incremental progress. A strength to build on is the finding that people from different backgrounds and disciplines are viewed as more likely to work effectively in teams by Canadian workers.”
Meredith Page & Associates (mp2strategic.com) is a consulting firm specializing in business consulting and research.
About the Agile & Innovative Organizational Cultures Initiative
This survey is part of the Agile Organizations initiative which is designed to help organizations to become more agile, innovative and competitive. The questions asked are a small sub-set of the Agile and Innovative Organizational Cultures Questionnaire which includes more detailed questions to identify strengths and weaknesses in areas such as the use of collaboration tools, internal entrepreneurship and employee engagement. The objective is to achieve a large sample using the full questionnaire so that benchmarking will enable organizations, industries, geographies and even individuals to identify ways to develop more agile, innovative and successful work environments. The study has been designed over the past year. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available for the implementation of the full research program. The questionnaire and benchmarking data will be made available to other consultants or researchers who wish to contribute to the project.
For more information please contact Doug Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be reached by phone at 514-605-4357
A total of 1,683 people in Canada and the U.S. participated in the study. The Canadian survey was carried out by Forum Research of Toronto. ResearchNow of Toronto conducted the survey in the United States. Both were conducted on behalf of Meredith Page & Associates (mp2strategic.com). All three firms carried out the study as a joint venture and as a public service. The sample consisted of 763 working Canadians and was conducted using IVR. A sample of this size is considered to be accurate to within +/- 3.5% 19 times out of 20. In the U.S. the sample consisted of 920 working Americans and was conducted using an online panel. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.2%, 19 times out of 20. Where appropriate, the data have been weighted by age, gender, region and other variables to ensure that the sample reflects the actual population according to the latest census data. To assess methodological differences, one question was replicated using an internet survey in both countries which confirmed the findings.