Canada’s Best 50 Employers

Some of the perks, programs and policies that help to make the 50 organizations on this year’s list so engaging

Photograph by Andrew Tolson/ Shannon Fagan/CP

At the core of the Best Employers list compiled by Aon Hewitt, a global HR consulting and outsourcing firm, is employee engagement, which is driven by leadership, rewards, workplace culture and values, productivity and the support of performance and development. The list is determined, in large part, by surveying employees. So Maclean’s asked all 50 organizations (listed alphabetically) what it is specifically that earned them such high marks from their staff.


METHODOLOGY:
Two hundred and fifty-one Canadian employers took part in the 2011 Best Employers studies. Aon Hewitt identified the Best Employers and Best Small & Medium Employers based primarily on survey responses from more than 134,000 Canadian employees at these organizations that gauge employee engagement levels. Participating employers were also required to survey their executive teams and provide background information on their people policies and practices. According to Aon Hewitt’s definition, employees are engaged when they “say, stay and strive”: they speak positively about their employer to others, are committed to remaining with their current employer, and are motivated by their organizations’ leaders, managers, culture and values to go “above and beyond” to contribute to business success. On average, 78 per cent of employees were engaged at Best Employers this year. For Best Small & Medium Employers, the average was 81 per cent.

Here are some of the highlights:

A – D
Aecon Group Inc.
Amex Canada Inc./ Amex Bank of Canada
ATB Financial
BBA Inc.
BC Biomedical Laboratories Ltd.
Bennett Jones LLP
Bentall LP
Canadian Western Bank
Chubb Insurance Company of Canada
CIMA + Partner in Excellence
Cintas Canada Limited
Cisco Canada
Clark Builders
Coastal Community Credit Union
Conexus
Co-operators Life Insurance Company
Delta Hotels & Resorts
Dillon Consulting

E – H

Earl’s Restaurants Ltd.
Edward Jones
EllisDon Corporation
Farm Credit Canada
Federal Express Canada Ltd.
Flight Centre
G&K Services Canada Inc.
GlaxoSmithKline Inc.
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.
Graham Group Ltd.
HATCH

I – N

ING Direct
Island Savings Credit Union
Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc.
Keg Restaurants Ltd.
LoyaltyOne
Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Marriott Hotels of Canada Ltd.
McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited
Meyers Norris Penny
National Bank Financial Group
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
Novotel Canada

O – Z
OMERS Administration Corporation
OpenRoad Auto Group Ltd.
PCL Constructors Inc.
Scotiabank Group
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.
Stikeman Elliott LLP
TD Bank Financial Group
The Co-operators
Wellington West Holdings Inc.

A – B

Aecon Group Inc.
Construction & engineering, Toronto

• The president attends more than 20 employee-feedback sessions a year to find out what the staff would like improved, as well as to get their input on where the company is headed strategically
• Above and Beyond program encourages staff members to recognize other employees’ work. As many as 140 people a month are nominated
• Employee’s Choice charitable giving program allows the staff to pick the community organizations the company supports

Back to the full list

Amex Canada Inc. / Amex Bank of Canada
Diversified financial services, Markham, ON

• Retirement savings, travel discounts and a stock-option plan for employees
• The company works to help employees build their careers though training and education programs that are aimed at fostering leadership; employee accomplishments are recognized through the celebration of milestones and the direct rewarding of results
• On-site gym, chiropractor, massage therapist, and emergency child-care facility

Back to the full list

ATB Financial
Commercial banks, Edmonton

• All permanent associates get $200 to spend on wellness activities, or to cover healthy living and personal growth expenses
• Employees are given certificates of recognition and the chance to attend the company’s annual networking event when they complete post-secondary and certificate programs
• Community efforts, including the YES program, which awards a bursary for four years of university or a two-year diploma program to six students raised in foster care

Back to the full list

BBA Inc.
Construction and engineering, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, QE

• Employees go through a formal introductory program that is aimed at engaging employees in the company’s culture and teaching them its business practices
• A commitment to assigning tasks and responsibilities that help foster personal development
• Encourages co-operation with technical experts for mentorship and to foster teamwork

Back to the full list

BC Biomedical Laboratories Ltd.
Health care providers & services, Surrey, BC

• A What’s on Your Mind online forum for employees to post suggestions
• Mental health training for supervisors, and an annual six-week wellness program
• Go Green team, made up of employees, educates fellow staff members on green initiatives; the Giving Back committee holds fundraisers for local charities

Back to the full list

Bennett Jones LLP
Professional services, Calgary

• Extensive health, vision and drug coverage combined with life insurance and a fitness subsidy
• Employee and family assistance program augmented by backup daycare
• Training and development programs online, as well as conferences and in-house courses and seminars

Back to the full list

Bentall LP
Real estate management and development, Toronto

• Employees are actively involved in the company’s CSR efforts
• The staff is engaged in the community through fundraising events, community outreach and education programs
• A donation matching program, and two paid volunteer days a year per employee

Back to the full list

Canadian Western Bank
Commercial banks, Edmonton

• Employees are involved in decisions that impact the way business is done
• Training programs is aimed at helping employees build a “lifetime career” at CWB
• Comprehensive benefits programs; an employee-share purchase plan

Back to the full list

Chubb Insurance Company of Canada
Insurance, Toronto

• Wide-ranging benefit and program offerings, including some involving employees’ health and well-being, as well as volunteerism and corporate social responsibility
• Attention to the development of staff members at all levels
• A “highly collaborative and communicative culture”

Back to the full list

CIMA+ Partners in excellence
Construction and engineering, Laval, QE

• Emphasis on “transparency and open communication”
• Good growth potential in terms of access to partnership; promotions are not based on tenure, but on merit
• Employees are able to work on a range of projects in Canada and around the world

Back to the full list

Cintas Canada Limited
Commercial services and supplies, Mississauga, ON

• Teamwork and trust is the “cornerstone” of the office culture
• An open-door policy with management. Any unanswered issues are promptly escalated to head office
• Employees are recognized for their contributions through both organized programs and informal means

Back to the full list

Cisco Canada
Communications equipment, Toronto

• A “culture of empowerment”
• Because of the need for quick and effective decision making, employees are able to see the impact of their work quickly
• There is flexibility in terms of work hours, as well as opportunities to work remotely

Back to the full list

Clark Builders
Construction and engineering, Edmonton

• The company is 100-per-cent employee owned
• A strong corporate culture in which every team member is treated with respect and trust
• A “challenging work environment” and “significant career advancement opportunities”

Back to the full list

Coastal Community Credit Union
Commercial banks, Nanaimo, BC

• Consistent and transparent internal communication system
• Employee feedback collected through focus groups, committees and surveys are used to prioritize key initiatives
• An Employee Volunteer Day

Back to the full list

Conexus
Diversified financial services, Regina

• On top of regular vacation time, employees are given an extra 72 hours off a year
• Up to 22.5 work hours a year can be used to volunteer
• The company covers full tuition for approved graduate degrees

Back to the full list

Co-operators Life Insurance Company
Insurance, Regina

• Financial assistance for career-related educational programs
• Health benefits range from subsidized yoga classes to free flu shots
• Two paid days a year for volunteer work

Back to the full list

Delta Hotels and Resorts
Hotels, restaurants & leisure, Toronto

• Visible, approachable leadership
• Four stages of training and orientation for everyone who joins the company
• Employees receive regular feedback on their performance

Back to the full list

Dillon Consulting
Professional services, Toronto

• Flexibility to change career paths within the company
• A formal mentoring program; online training courses for all employees
• Challenging projects, many of which are on the leading edge of technology

Back to the full list

Earl’s Restaurants Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants & leisure, North Vancouver

• Opportunity to climb the ladder from dishwasher to manager
• A willingness to invest in training for those who lack experience, but are the right fit in terms of “attitude”
• Leadership selection favours managers who are “simpatico”

Back to the full list

Edward Jones
Diversified financial services, Mississauga, ON

• Profit-sharing with associates
• Senior leaders regularly see advisers and associates face to face
• Firm’s structure as a partnership fosters teamwork and the rewarding of achievement

Back to the full list

EllisDon Corporation
Construction and engineering, London, ON

• The company’s “flat organization” model allows any staff member direct access to executives
• Employees are encouraged to generate ideas on “new services and markets”
• When managers are considering a policy change, like the recent switch from a traditional vacation model to one based on trust and need, input from all staff members is encouraged

Back to the full list

Farm Credit Canada
Diversified financial services, Regina

• A “high-performance workplace,” led by managers who “challenge employees”
• Employees “believes that FCC makes a difference in the agriculture industry, our customers and rural communities”
• Training on how to “constructively challenge” colleagues—including senior executives

Back to the full list

Federal Express Canada Ltd.
Air freight & logistics, Mississauga, ON

• Purple Promise Awards are given annually to star employees
• Global employee survey measures feedback on existing employee programs
• Regular updates on company business thanks to a video magazine, a blog and a newsletter. Employees can also attend the biannual Town Hall meetings—the executive team visits every location in Canada to discuss how the business is doing and to answer questions in person

Back to the full list

Flight Centre
Hotels, restaurants and leisure, Vancouver

• On everything from benefits to day-to-day operations, the company regularly requests and acts upon feedback provided by employees
• Not even senior management have offices or assistants
• Full disclosure with regard to the targets, salaries and results

Back to the full list

G&K Services Canada Inc.
Commercial services and supplies, Mississauga, ON

• A stated target of filling 85 per cent of management positions from within
• A culture of “openness and communication”
• Leadership team “creates an environment of trust and respect”

Back to the full list

GlaxoSmithKline Inc.
Pharmaceuticals, Mississauga, ON

• The GSK Foundation matches employees’ charitable donations and offers grants to organizations where employees volunteer
• Reimbursement of tuition and training up to $2,500 a year; on-site leadership development programs
• The Applause program rewards those exhibiting exceptional leadership with points redeemable for merchandise

Back to the full list

Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP
Professional services, Toronto

• A “caring, supportive, respectful culture”
• Commitment to the community and to charity
• Programs have been implemented to recognize employees who help each other and the firm

Back to the full list

Graham Group Ltd.
Construction and engineering, Calgary

• 100 per cent employee-owned
• Graham University program offers personal and professional development
• “Approachable, straightforward, honest and transparent” leadership

Back to the full list

HATCH
Construction and engineering, Mississauga, ON

• Global career opportunities at more than 65 offices around the world
• Corporate social responsibility, both environmentally and socially; the company and its employees support a range of initiatives (helped develop a reconstruction plan for southern Chile after the earthquake)
• Comprehensive and flexible employee group insurance benefits and retirement savings; free advice from a financial adviser

Back to the full list

ING Direct
Commercial banks, Toronto

• “Meaningful development opportunities” for all employees
• “Open and transparent communication”
• Work-life balance is encouraged by offering flexible workplace initiatives

Back to the full list

Island Savings Credit Union
Diversified financial services, Duncan, BC

• A highly personal employment experience in which co-workers feel like “family”
• Challenging work; opportunities and support for career advancement
• Generous benefits programs, people practices

Back to the full list

Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc.
Real estate management and development, Montreal

• Training and development programs and a competitive compensation package
• An online performance management system, a flexible benefits program, and the Harvard ManageMentor program have been recently launched or will be soon
• The company is one of its industry’s top purchasers of green energy in North America

Back to the full list

Keg Restaurants Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants & leisure, Richmond, BC

• Employee contributions are recognized by management; Bar Oscars and Kitchen Emmys nights honour staff that have excelled over the year
• A work-hard, play-hard culture that includes events like the Keg Cup (a two-day ski challenge), softball tournaments, summer parties
• Twice-a-year quality-of-workplace surveys that ask employees to rate their training, teamwork and managers

Back to the full list

LoyaltyOne
Diversified consumer services, Toronto

• Mentoring and coaching by managers assists in the ongoing development of associates
• Environmental sustainability programs, including a waste-reduction program and a SMART car fleet
• Associates are provided with a “clear sense of direction on where the company is and where it’s going”

Back to the full list

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Personal products, Vancouver

• Morale boost from company’s charitable giving and ethical approach to manufacturing
• Opportunity to grow within the company thanks to a commitment to internal promotions
• An open-door policy for staff suggestions

Back to the full list

Marriott Hotels of Canada Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants & leisure, Mississauga, ON

• A focus on leadership development that includes regular performance reviews “that support, develop and grow our management talent”
• Training and development includes full orientation after first joining the company; ongoing training occurs both online and through classroom-style learning
• There’s an “equal focus on management engagement as there is on employee (non-management) engagement”

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McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants & leisure, Toronto

• Up to $1,500 in education reimbursements annually; fitness and health club reimbursement
• Deferred profit sharing to all employees after two years of service
• All full-time office staff and restaurant management employees are eligible for an eight-week sabbatical for every 10 years of full-time continuous service

Back to the full list

Meyers Norris Penny
Professional Services, Calgary

• Expansion has provided employees with a “variety of career opportunities”
• Investment in professional development; regular feedback
• Employees see a “connection between their career plans and results they achieve”

Back to the full list

National Bank Financial Group
Commercial Banks, Montreal

• The My Health: My Wealth program provides healthy living activities and information and a toll-free health line staffed by nurses
• Employee recognition programs reward performance through prizes such as trips, financial bonuses, breakfasts with executives, and a formal recognition gala
• Staff participate in the Ride for Diabetes Research, the Relay for Life, and fundraising for Centraide, and the company donates to Vancouver Easter Seals House, Foundation Québec Jeunes and other charities

Back to the full list

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
Pharmaceuticals, Dorval, QE

• A focus on life-work balance and flexible working arrangements
• Opportunity to contribute to global health partnerships in the developing world by volunteering vacation time (the travel costs are covered by the company)
• A health and wellness program that includes gym classes and healthy cafeteria meals

Back to the full list

Novotel Canada
Hotels, restaurants & leisure, Mississauga

• Employees are autonomous and “encouraged to take risks” to “get the job done well”
• There’s “an open-door policy” at all levels of the organization
• Unlimited access to the Novotel Online University to obtain certificates for language, business and professional development courses

Back to the full list

OMERS Administration Corporation
Diversified financial services, Mississauga

• In-house mentoring program; comprehensive education program with time off for study
• Peer-based employee recognition opportunities
• Emphasis on wellness and preventative care includes on-site yoga and coverage for naturopaths, acupuncture and dietitians

Back to the full list

OpenRoad Auto Group Ltd.
Specialty retail, Richmond, BC

• Employees are encouraged to share ideas
• The staff is recognized for their contributions, personal development and years of service
• A commitment to finding “productive solutions that enhance current operations”

Back to the full list

PCL Constructors Inc.
Construction & engineering, Edmonton

• 100-per-cent employee-owned; an “entrepreneurial spirit and family atmosphere”
• The PCL College of Construction offers industry-leading professional development programs
• Comprehensive compensation and benefit packages, including annual profit sharing

Back to the full list

Scotiabank Group
Diversified financial services, Toronto

• The Applause Program, an award-winning peer-to-peer recognition program
• Employee development, including a learning management system with thousands of free offerings
• A commitment to corporate social responsibility, including the support of the arts (Scotiabank Nuit Blanche), the environment (EcoLiving public website), and charity (United Way annual campaign)

Back to the full list

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. (Canada)
Hotels, restaurants & leisure, Toronto

• A commitment to training and development for employees at every level and department
• The team culture extends to charity outreach initiatives and fun sporting and social networking events
• Associates have a “keen awareness of corporate social responsibility”

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Stikeman Elliott LLP
Professional services, N/A

• Provides challenging work and “seeks to attract and retain the top talent in our market”
• Corporate social responsibility: “environmental sustainability, community involvement and pro-bono initiatives”
• Continuous learning, development and mentorship

Back to the full list

TD Bank Financial Group
Diversified Financial Services, Toronto

• Listening and responding to what employees say matters to them
• Flexible work options to support employees in balancing their work and personal life through different stages of their careers
• A promote-from-within philosophy

Back to the full list

The Co-operators
Insurance, Guelph, ON

• Each year, action plans that address staff feedback are developed and delivered across the organization
• Many internal programs for career

Back to the full list

Wellington West Holdings Inc.
Diversified financial services, Winnipeg

• Seeking input from partners and acting on their ideas
• Caring about employees, clients and communities
• The firm is majority owned by its employees

Back to the full list




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Canada’s Best 50 Employers

  1. they do ask! im an employee and i am so happy to hear this news! make sence that we are on this list because it truly is an amazing place to work!

  2. Well Said Kelly, only two of these surveys are employee driven:

    Hewitt's and
    Great Place to Work's

    Top Employers is not employee driven!

  3. I wonder if Chubb will keep its place after all the laid offs that have happened in IT. A true shameful experience if you worked on that department.

  4. Dear Sir/Meddam,

    (My English Language is not good Basic language URDU & PASHTO)
    I hope you will be OK My Name is MUHAMMAD SAQIB and i’m “Muslim” 27 year old from Pakistan. And i got B.COM and then MBA (HR) fresh 2011. (HR related / trainee job / office job /NGOs etc..) please please help me here NO future in PAKISTAN.
    ____ I’ve Knowledge and Certified of IT Hardware, networking, MS-Office etc..

    Your Sincere,
    Muhammad Saqib.
    Followers.rules@gmail.com

  5. I have been working there for a while, did not know anyone when I started, but I tell you that if you work your ass off there are limitless opportunities. For example superintendents get unmarked new truck of your choosing, gas cards w/ car wash, and benefits are awesome they match 5% of your salary for the pension plan, and pay for all your meds, 90% dentists and so on…. and people are truly great.