Canada’s best employers

The perks, programs and policies that make these the country’s 50 top employers

The best employers

PCL Constructors Inc.

At the core of the Best Employers list compiled by Aon Hewitt, a global HR consulting and outsourcing firm, is high employee engagement, which is driven by leadership quality, effective rewards, strong workplace culture and values, enabling 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 they think earned them such high marks from their staff. Here are some of the highlights:

AECON GROUP INC., TORONTO

Construction & engineering

•“Above and Beyond” recognizes employees’ work

•The president attends more than 20 employee-feedback sessions every year

•“Employees Choice” program allows employees to choose which charities the company supports

ATB FINANCIAL, EDMONTON

Commercial banks

•All permanent associates get $200 to spend on wellness, be it running shoes, yoga classes or lift tickets

•Fun employee events, like the company’s own “Rock Band” and “So You Think You Can Dance” competitions

•When employees complete post-secondary or certificate programs, they are invited to the company’s annual networking event

BBA INC., MONT-SAINT-HILAIRE, QUE.

Construction and engineering

•Wide range of career roles and opportunities

•Fun employee events, like golf tournaments, cooking classes and a cruise along the St. Lawrence River

•Encourages a collaborative, team-oriented work environment with mentorship, coaching and lunch-and-learn programs

BC BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES LTD., SURREY, B.C.

Health care providers & services

•Health perks include on-site boot camps, yoga classes, a mammogram clinic and smoking-cessation assistance

•“Go Green” team educates staff on green initiatives; the “Giving Back” committee holds fundraisers for local charities

•Consistent focus on quality patient health creates sense of accomplishment among employees

BENNETT JONES LLP, CALGARY

Professional services

•“Backup Childcare” program: if an employee’s child care is unavailable, the firm can make back-up arrangements at the firm’s expense

•Excellent benefits, including paramedical coverage, vision and dental, as well as life insurance and an employee and family assistance program

•Great staff lounges promote a collegial work environment; frequent “lunch-and-learns” on topics like personal finance, health, nutrition

BIRCHWOOD AUTOMOTIVE GROUP, WINNIPEG

Automotive

•Promotes from within, for everything from car jockeys to general manager; over 150 staff have moved up in the past four years

•In-house management training, “Birchwood U” and “Management Essentials” foster leadership

•“90-Day Lunch”: a senior executive takes a staffer to lunch on their 90th day of employment

BRITISH COLUMBIA AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, BURNABY, B.C.

Automotive services, plus home, auto and personal insurance services

•BCAA’s people and HR practices support employees

•Employees take pride in the organization’s efforts to be socially and environmentally responsible

•Employees are supported by, and enjoy working with, teammates and supervisors

LA CAPITALE FINANCIAL GROUP, QUEBEC CITY

Insurance and financial services

•Prides itself on its social and environmental responsibility

•Offers a reliable retirement savings plan and competitive benefits

•Has created a working environment that is open and receptive to workers’ thoughts and feelings

CANADIAN WESTERN BANK, EDMONTON

Commercial banks

•“CWBalance day”: grants employees an extra day off to encourage healthy living and a good work-life balance

•Commitment to corporate social responsibility through initiatives including the “Green Team” and the “Employee Volunteer Grant Program”

•A focus on personal development and career progression; employees have access to three in-house learning centres

CHUBB INSURANCE COMPANY OF CANADA, TORONTO

Insurance

•High-performance culture with linkage to pay

•Focus on career development and internal promotion

•Highly effective and accessible senior leadership team with an emphasis on strong communication

CIMA+ PARTNERS IN EXCELLENCE, LAVAL, QC.

Construction & engineering

•Global employment opportunities

•Partnership is open to “all key employees”

•Employees are given autonomy and responsibility, allowing them to perform at their best

CISCO CANADA, TORONTO

Technology

•Flex-time and opportunities to work remotely

•Culture of “empowerment” encourages employees to work for positive change, and take leadership roles on boards, business councils

•Strong focus on collaboration

CLARK BUILDERS, EDMONTON

Construction & engineering

•The company is 100 per cent employee-owned

•A dynamic and inclusive environment

•A “challenging work environment” with “significant career advancement opportunities”

COASTAL COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION, NANAIMO, B.C.

Diversified financial services

•An inclusive, open and transparent communication style

•Engages and inspires employees to act on their leadership potential, both at work and in their communities

•An “Employee Volunteer Day”

CONEXUS, REGINA

Diversified financial services

•The company covers full tuition for approved graduate degrees; 22 hours a year can be used to volunteer on designated projects

•Talent management programs like the “Leadership Development” program engages employees and minimizes turnover

•Competitive rewards package with monetary compensation, benefits and perks

CO-OPERATORS LIFE INSURANCE CO., REGINA

Insurance

•“Leave for Change” allows staff to transform part of their annual vacation time into a three-week volunteer assignment in a developing nation

•Provides two paid days per year for volunteer work; every year, staff can direct $75 of company funds to a charity of their choice

•Financial assistance for career- related educational programs

DELTA HOTELS AND RESORTS, TORONTO

Hotels, restaurants & leisure

•Leadership is informal, approachable and less hierarchical than other firms

•Five levels of training, and numerous educational courses and seminars are offered

•Visible, approachable leadership

EARL’S RESTAURANTS LTD., NORTH VANCOUVER

Hotels, restaurants & leisure

•Leadership talent promoted almost exclusively from within—virtually all restaurant leaders and chefs started as servers, hosts, dishwashers and cooks

•Last year, spent $2.4 million on a 32-hour, four-week program for servers; curricula for its “Leadership U” covers everything from finance to executive coaching skills, with salary increases upon course completions

•Company pays for tuition, books and knives for chefs receiving outside training

EDWARD JONES, MISSISSAUGA, ONT.

Diversified financial services

•Profit-sharing with associates; partnerships available to those who demonstrate significant contributions

•New financial advisers get industry-leading training designed to allow individuals from different backgrounds—from corporate executives to salespeople and IT professionals—to thrive in their new careers

•Senior leaders regularly see associates and advisers face to face

ELLISDON CORP., LONDON, ONT.

Construction & engineering

•Competitive compensation includes profit-sharing

•Employees are offered “career growth work” on high-profile signature jobs, and can relocate nationally and internationally

•In-house development programs; tuition reimbursement for outside education opportunities

FARM CREDIT CANADA, REGINA

Diversified financial services

•Internal organizational culture based on trust, respect and personal accountability

•Training on how to “constructively challenge” and effectively coach colleagues

•High-performance workplace encourages employees to realize their full potential

FEDERAL EXPRESS CANADA LTD., MISSISSAUGA, ONT.

Air freight & logistics

•“Purple Promise Awards” are given annually to star employees

•“Drive Your Career” provides employees with the tools and assistance, as well as mentoring, skills development and workshop opportunities, to ensure career progress

•Direct change comes from an annual survey and feedback session on leadership, now in its 29th year

FLIGHT CENTRE, VANCOUVER

Hotels, restaurants & leisure

•95 per cent of all head office staff were consultants in a Flight Centre shop

•Rewards and recognition programs range from monthly “Buzz Nites” to a global ball—this year, it was a Cyndi Lauper show in Paris, with Michael J. Fox as speaker

•While on company time, workers can meet with an internal personal financial consultant, personal health & wellness consultant and personal career counsellor

G&K SERVICES CANADA INC., MISSISSAUGA, ONT.

Uniform rentals and facility services

•Target to fill 85 per cent of management positions from within

•A culture of “openness and communication”

•A “fun” workplace, and a leadership team that “creates an environment of trust and respect”

GLAXOSMITHKLINE INC., MISSISSAUGA, ONT.

Pharmaceuticals

•Reimbursement of tuition and training up to $2,500 a year; extensive on-site leadership training

•On-site fitness centre, and healthy cafeteria menus

•“Applause” program rewards exceptional leadership with points redeemable for merchandise

GOWLING LAFLEUR HENDERSON LLP, TORONTO

N/A

•A “caring, supportive, respectful” culture

•Good work is recognized; feedback is encouraged and delivered constructively

•“Interesting, challenging work”

GRAHAM GROUP LTD., CALGARY

Construction & engineering

•100 per cent employee-owned, with deep family roots

•“Graham University” offers professional and personal development

•Leadership team is passionate about construction, and firmly stands by employees

HATCH, MISSISSAUGA, ONT.

Construction & engineering

•Global career opportunities

•Employees can become owners over time

•Mentorship program pairs young designers and engineers with senior staff, allowing for hands-on exposure to advanced projects and technology

ING DIRECT, TORONTO

Commercial banks

•“Meaningful development opportunities” for all employees

•“Open and transparent communication” empowers employees

•Flexible workplace allows employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance

ISLAND SAVINGS CREDIT UNION, DUNCAN, B.C.

Diversified financial services

•Market-leading retirement and benefits programs

•Challenging work with great teammates; co-workers feel like “family”

•Support for career advancement

IVANHOE CAMBRIDGE INC., MONTREAL

Real estate owner, manager and investor in shopping centres

•Montreal head office was designed to maximize translucence and natural light

•In-house management training; an interactive, self-paced program for learning a second language

•Flexibility—“TGIF” program allows employees to take up to five full Fridays off with pay

JTI-MACDONALD CORP., TORONTO

Tobacco products/manufacturer

•Tuition reimbursement for outside education opportunities; internal courses on leadership and management development

•Matches employee donations to charities

•On-site massage therapy, ergonomic assessments and fitness classes

KEG RESTAURANTS, LTD., RICHMOND, B.C.

Hotels, restaurants & leisure

•A work-hard, play-hard culture: the “Keg Cup” (a two-day ski competition), softball tournaments and summer parties

•“Bar Oscars” and “Kitchen Emmys” for hard-working staff

•Twice-yearly quality-of-workplace surveys ask employees to rate their management, who “listen and act accordingly”

LOYALTYONE, TORONTO

Diversified consumer services

•Flexibility—nearly half of all call-centre employees work from home

•Abundant leadership and skills development opportunities, including a “Manager-Once-Removed” mentoring program, and 3,000 online training courses

•Environmental sustainability programs, including a waste-reduction program, and a Smart car fleet

MARRIOTT HOTELS OF CANADA, MISSISSAUGA, ONT.

Hotels, restaurants & leisure

•All employees receive travel discounts, with even greater discounts in the holiday season

•Ongoing training both online and through classroom training

•Focus on leadership development; formal and informal training and regular performance reviews support, develop and “grow” management talent

MCDONALD’S RESTAURANTS OF CANADA, TORONTO

Hotels, restaurants & leisure

•Up to $1,500 in education reimbursements annually; fitness and health club reimbursements

•Up to $3,000 of employees’ charitable donations is matched by the company

•Eight-week sabbaticals granted for every 10 years of full-time service

MNP LLP, CALGARY

Professional services

•Keen focus on in-house professional development; regular feedback

•Strong leaders set the tone and lead by example; employees know promotions are based on merit, not seniority

•Expansion has provided a “variety of career opportunities”

NATIONAL BANK, MONTREAL

Financial services

•Wide choice of work locations

•Flex-time and leave policies include “personal” and “parental” obligations; a daycare near head office accommodates up to 175 children

•“Leaders Institute” for manag erial development

NOVOTEL CANADA, MISSISSAUGA, ONT.

Hotels, restaurants & leisure

•“Open Door” program allows employees to discuss concerns with management at any level; employees can take risks “without having to get permission from a manager first”

•The “At Novotel, you grow faster” program helps employees customize career paths suited to their needs

•Frequent internal promotion

OMERS, TORONTO

Diversified financial services

•In-house mentoring program; education program with time off for study

•Coverage for naturopaths, acupuncture and dieticians

•Strong leadership and consistent management give employees structure and direction

OPENROAD AUTO GROUP, RICHMOND, B.C.

Specialty retail

•Management encourages “kaizen”—practices that seek continuous improvement

• Staff is recognized for their contributions, personal development and years of service

•Extracurricular sports and community-giving committees

PCL CONSTRUCTORS INC., EDMONTON

Construction & engineering

•100 per cent employee-owned; employees benefit from profit-sharing

•“PCL College of Construction” offers industry-leading professional development programs

•Entrepreneurial spirit and family atmosphere

PROCTER & GAMBLE INC., TORONTO

Consumer packaged goods

•Emphasizes teamwork, trust and integrity in the workplace

•Coaching, ongoing training and “challenging assignments” develop employees

•Flexible work environment—supporting employees “throughout life’s changes and challenges”

RÉGIE DES RENTES DU QUÉBEC, QUEBEC CITY

Public administration

•Promotes recognition for jobs well done, work-life balance and quality of life in the workplace

•Innovation and performance have been recognized by industry peers

•Employees work in a co-operative environment

SCOTIABANK GROUP, TORONTO

Diversified financial services

•A commitment to corporate social responsibility, including supporting the arts (Scotiabank Nuit Blanche), the environment and charity

•“Applause” program: an award-winning, peer-to-peer recognition program

•Employees have a clear understanding of what is expected from them, and the wider goals and direction of the bank

STARWOOD HOTELS AND RESORTS INC. (CANADA), TORONTO

Hotels, restaurants & leisure

•Discounted stays at Starwood hotels around the world

•Global career opportunities

•Training and career development programs; a great work atmosphere with recognition for “a job well done”

STIKEMAN ELLIOTT LLP, N/A

Professional services

•Challenging atmosphere that demands “professional excellence” and continuously pushes workers to perform beyond their abilities

•Constant development, learning and mentorship opportunities

•Pro bono initiatives

TD BANK GROUP, TORONTO

Diversified financial services

•Listens and responds to the concerns that employees say matter to them

•A promote-from-within philosophy

•Flexible work option to support employees in balancing their work and personal life throughout different stages of their careers

THE CO-OPERATORS, GUELPH, ONT.

Insurance

•Flexibility—employees are able to work from home, take personal days and work compressed workweeks

•Promotes career development with paid external coursework

•Two paid days off to volunteer

WESTJET, CALGARY

Aviation/transportation

•All employees are owners

•Workplace environment is “fun, friendly and caring”

•Core belief stresses honesty, openness and “a commitment to following through on promises”





Browse

Canada’s best employers

  1. Now I know why everyone at TD is incompetent, it’s their “promote-from-within philosophy”.

  2. This top Canadian job list looks like Baby Boomer’s travel plans, Baby Boomer’s money management, and Baby Boomer’s hotel plans. Notice how all the employment is around that demographic group and their concerns. Wonder what will happen in 30 plus years when the next generations have no savings, trips, or needs that result in industries?

  3. Now, why is it that everyone I know at TD wishes they were working somewhere else

  4. Why don’t you ever list Canada’s worst employers? That would provide some real incentives to change and improve.

  5. Why is G&M asking the *managers* why their employees high-rate their jobs? The answer is always going to be some goofy management program or transparent ruse. Like West Jet and its “All employees are owners”. Every company I’ve worked for has played that ruse. I am one of 100,000+ employees of a company which each of us “owns”.

    Right. Until it’s time for the  managers to boost their bonuses by laying off a few “owners”.  

    Why is it that Big Corp management plays their employees for suckers? The company I “own” recently flexified our health benefits. In the name of giving us greater “choice”, we now select our benefits based on our personal preferences and “lifestyle” (such a warm and fuzzy). The result is that our previously meager but comprehensive benefits package is now full of holes that we get to “choose”. Cool huh? They also reduced a free spending health account. Why? So that we wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it. 

    Really? Really! 

    Brainstorming is a great device, Guys, but really you should wait for the hangover before you pick the winners. 

    These Really Smart Guys have degrees in business admin and marketing (plus many Inspirational Workshops), condescending to people with degrees in computer and information science, people who are actually solving actual problems, and creating actual products. Management doesn’t solve problems. It manufactures objectives and then invents solutions that according to the latest fad will make you look like you’re doing a good job. Who knows if it works? Your job is to come up with the next “solution”. 

    We love our jobs because it is interesting and challenging work and we like working together. Management and HR initiatives, their transparent and insulting attempts to manipulate us? A joke.

  6. well it would be nice if you actually planted someone in these companies to see what it is really like to work for them.  I know for a fact that two of the companies hound the hell out of their employees to fill out the questionnaires.  most of the people answering them are brainwashed into answering falsely.  

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *