Canada’s 50 best employers

The best perks, new initiatives and other opportunities on offer at Canada’s 50 best employers


 
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Flight Centre

Flight Centre

The Best Employers list, compiled by Aon Hewitt, a global HR consulting firm, is determined in large part by surveying employees. Their engagement is measured by their views on areas such as leadership excellence, manager effectiveness, supporting productivity, career development and recognition. Maclean’s asked all 50 organizations (listed alphabetically) what they think earned them such high marks from their staff. In addition, we’ve included the top areas where each company was rated strongest by its employees, as well as the number of years it has been on the list.

Here are the highlights:

Aecon Group Inc.
Construction and engineering
Toronto
Years on list: 8

  • All offices and project sites promote a safety-first culture through the firm’s annual safety week.
  • Employees’ children in post-secondary studies can apply for Aecon’s scholarship program.
  • Renowned speakers headline Aecon’s annual spring conferences, held in Edmonton and Toronto; past speakers include Hayley Wickenheiser and Chris Hadfield.

Allstate Insurance Co. of Canada
Insurance
Markham, Ont.
Years on list: 3

  • Its culture supports a flexible work life—including formalized and ad-hoc work-from-home programs—and the firm doesn’t see such alternatives as career-limiting moves.
  • Short-term developmental opportunities are open to all employees; they typically run 12 to 18 months.
  • Fitness is part of life at the firm; in addition to fitness club discounts, stretch breaks are encouraged and some meetings take place outside during walks.

ATB Financial
Financial services
Edmonton
Years on list: 6

  • Health benefits include a “buy and sell” option on vacations. Employees can swap up to one week of vacation for more benefit credits, or use benefit credits to buy a week of vacation.
  • Workers gave back to their communities through a grant program; they volunteered more than 11,000 hours on company time in the last fiscal year.
  • Programs such as People First Initiative, an online platform for tracking wellness activities and goals, reward healthy behaviour.

Bennett Jones LLP
Legal services
Calgary
Years on list: 14

  • Staff appreciation programs include both after-work social gatherings (covered by the firm) and awards of concert tickets and gift certificates.
  • The firm pays 100 per cent of tuition for job-related courses and offers other professional development support such as internal training programs and conferences.
  • Each year staff pick a charity to be supported through office fundraising; volunteers work at food banks during business hours.

Birchwood Automotive Group
Auto sales
Winnipeg
Years on list: 4

  • In-house programs open to all workers include the firm’s own Management Essentials, an eight-week crash course focusing on the life cycle of an employee.
  • On his or her 90th day at Birchwood, each employee lunches with a senior executive to discuss his or her experience at the automotive group.
  • Workers earn Birchwood Bucks by hitting financial targets and can use them at a live auction to bid on prizes such as Xbox and other gaming systems, as well as travel vouchers and cash.

British Columbia Automobile Association
Insurance
Burnaby, B.C.
Years on list: 6

  • The insurer provides a flexible benefits program and a pension plan, with no contributions required from workers.
  • Internal training programs and defined learning paths aid career opportunities and personal development.
  • The firm and its Road Safety Foundation donated nearly 5,000 car seats to community groups and families in need in the last two years.

Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd.
Real estate management
Toronto
Years on list: 1

  • When employees or a group of workers donate their time to a registered charity, the firm will give up to $5,000.
  • It offers a reward and recognition program, Building Excellence, that is based on the firm’s corporate values.
  • The employer matches up to 150 per cent of worker contributions to the firm’s generous pension plan.

Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust
Real estate investment trust
Toronto
Years on list: 2

  • To help workers achieve their retirement goals, the trust doubled employer matching contributions this year from 10 to 20 per cent of worker retirement contributions.
  • Employees and the firm support a breakfast program in local schools.
  • Employee recognition runs the gamut from birthday cards to peer-nominated excellence awards.

Canadian Western Bank
Financial services
Edmonton
Years on list: 9

  • The education assistance program reimburses up to 100 per cent of tuition; the bank also runs internal training programs.
  • In addition to low-interest loans and preferred mortgage rates, the bank contributes to RSPs and an employee share-purchase plan.
  • By aligning personal goals to those of the bank’s long-term vision and strategies, employees see how their work makes a difference.

Chubb Insurance Co. of Canada
Insurance
Toronto
Years on list: 15

  • Its Care initiative provides workers with up to five paid volunteer days off a year, matches employee donations and runs campaigns for charities such as the United Way and Dress for Success.
  • Worker can tailor to their own needs a modular benefits plan and pension scheme as well as a company RSP program that double-matches employee contributions.
  • Employee work-life balance options include in-house yoga and massage, an annual fitness allowance and subsidized social events.

Cisco Systems Canada Co.
Communications equipment
Toronto
Years on list: 7

  • Younger workers “reverse mentor” Cisco leaders, a practice that drives the firm’s evolution.
  • Employees develop managerial skills through programs focusing on leadership, product sales and technical excellence.
  • Workplace flexibility is promoted—85 per cent of Cisco’s Canadian employees regularly work outside the office.

Clark Builders
Construction and engineering
Edmonton
Years on list: 6

  • Every salaried employee can invest in the firm by owning shares. It is 49 per cent employee-owned.
  • It holds a Community Impact Week of events to focus on the work of five chosen charities and to raise funds; it also auctions local artwork and donates gifts like Easter and Halloween baskets.
  • Executives and senior management encourage an open-door policy through blogging, personal visits and internal social networking.

Concept Group
Energy services
Calgary
Years on list: 2

  • There is no maximum on tuition reimbursements for work-related training.
  • Frequent social gatherings include golf tournaments and the annual Calgary Stampede barbecue for employees and their families, complete with a special kids zone.
  • Workers share opinions during regular town hall meetings and site visits by management.

The Co-operators
Insurance
Guelph, Ont.
Years on list: 12

  • The Better Recognition Program is an online program that workers can use to recognize colleagues.
  • Employees can balance work and life commitments through flex-time options, telework arrangements and by taking personal days.
  • Wellness programs and paid volunteer days are aspects of the firm’s sustainability vision.

Davis Automotive Group
Auto sales
Lethbridge, Alta.
Years on list: 3

  • This year the firm introduced Legend Awards, given to exemplary employees.
  • Employees earn travel rewards based on years of service; this year 13 employees received a tropical getaway to mark 25 years with the Davis organization.
  • All workers throughout Alberta joined an employee conference this year that featured training workshops, a trade show and social activities.
Delta Hotels and Resorts

Delta Hotels and Resorts

Delta Hotels and Resorts
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Toronto
Years on list: 15

  • All leadership team members have individual development plans and 360-degree peer feedback; 65 per cent of leaders were promoted from within.
  • The firm’s peer-to-peer reward and recognition program, Delta Celebrates, generated more than 25,000 recognitions and $3.7 million “Delta dollars,” redeemable for merchandise, last year.
  • In addition to an internal program, Valuing Healthy Minds, the hotel chain partners with outside initiatives such as Olympian Clara Hughes’s Big Ride.

Earls Restaurants Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Vancouver
Years on list: 7

  • Restaurant employees receive at least 24 hours of training each year; its Red Seal apprenticeship program pays the full cost of knives, books and technical culinary training.
  • All workers can participate in leadership or personal development courses.
  • Company awards include food-and-wine tours to destinations such as Japan, Bordeaux in France and California’s Napa Valley.

Edward Jones
Financial services
Mississauga, Ont.
Years on list: 13

  • Profit sharing is open to all associates at the financial firm.
  • Edward Jones’s formal recognition program rewards workers for client service, collaboration with other staff and making that extra effort.
  • Its cross-divisional mentoring program allows employees to learn from associates and leaders in other divisions.

EllisDon Corp.
Construction and engineering
London, Ont.
Years on list: 14

  • The CEO conducts a nationwide listening tour to get employee feedback face-to-face.
  • All full-time employees can enter the share ownership program after one year on the job.
  • Financial information about the privately owned firm is shared with employees.

Farm Credit Canada
Financial services
Regina
Years on list: 12

  • The Crown corporation has a clearly defined internal culture that focuses on partnership and accountability.
  • Employees are given tools to speak responsibly when issues come up.
  • The organization develops leaders who help employees feel valued, supported and inspired.

Federal Express Canada Ltd.
Delivery services
Mississauga, Ont.
Years on list: 11

  • Executives visit each of the firm’s locations twice a year for town hall meetings; employees also interact with management through the Open Door program.
  • The Drive Your Career program provides mentoring and skill development, which gives workers the tools to control their own career progressions.
  • The firm stands by its “people-service-profit” philosophy: If FedEx treats its people correctly, they will provide the best service possible, which results in profits for the firm, which can be reinvested in people-focused programs.

Flight Centre Canada
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Vancouver
Years on list: 14

  • In-house wellness and financial consultants advise on services including yoga and boot-camp classes, health products, the firm’s share plan and even confidential financial meetings.
  • The firm believes in hiring from within—more than 90 per cent of the company’s leaders began as travel consultants.
  • Top individuals and teams are honoured monthly, and the firm offers larger rewards, including attending a global gathering; this year’s event was in Macau and featured singers Will.i.am and Jessie J.

G&K Services Canada Inc.
Commercial services
Mississauga, Ont.
Years on list: 11

  • Leadership programs focusing on women, emerging leaders and accelerated development are helping the firm toward its goal of 85 per cent internal promotions.
  • In addition to discounts on movie passes and Dell computers, employees get special pricing on vehicles from the Big Three automakers: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
  • Top performers and their partners get annual all-expenses-paid trips as rewards.

Gowling, Lafleur, Henderson LLP
Legal services
Toronto
Years on list: 6

  • In addition to generous pro bono legal services, the firm matched staff donations for the ALS Canada ice-bucket challenge this year.
  • Frequent employee recognition events include an annual staff appreciation week and lunch-and-learn events with guest speakers.
  • Gowlings offers regular mentoring and performance feedback as well as training programs.

Hatch Ltd.
Construction and engineering
Mississauga, Ont.
Years on list: 5

  • With more than 65 offices around the world, Hatch offers workers global career opportunities.
  • Employees receive generous, flexible pension and benefits plans.
  • Workers have a vested interest in the firm’s success—they own it.

Island Savings Credit Union
Financial services
Duncan, B.C.
Years on list: 5

  • Through its community investment program, the credit union has provided more than $1 million to family-focused initiatives since 2010; each branch can provide volunteer support to local groups and organizations.
  • The annual staff recognition gala is a themed event, with executives and guests appearing in costume. Two recent themes were Star Wars and Grease.
  • Island Savings offers market-leading benefits, including a compassion fund for workers in need.

Ivanhoé Cambridge Inc.
Real estate management
Montreal
Years on list: 9

  • Its broad array of skills development programs include management coaching, which was attended by 400 managers.
  • To attract and retain talented workers, the firm provides comprehensive employment packages.
  • Workers maintain a healthy work-life balance through the firm’s programs and activities.

JTI-Macdonald Corp.
Tobacco
Mississauga, Ont.
Years on list: 12

  • The firm’s philanthropic endeavours include an annual outreach day, when workers volunteer at local charitable organizations.
  • Professional development and career progression is enhanced by assignments within Canada and abroad.
  • Employees contribute to a collaborative work culture by nominating their peers for rewards.

Keg Restaurants Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Richmond, B.C.
Years on list: 13

  • The firm develops work skills and real-life skills for young and new employees and has a promote-from-within policy.
  • It offers flexible scheduling, “epic” staff events and a 40 per cent discount on food, even for non-work-related visits.
  • The Keg Spirit Foundation has donated close to $7 million in the last decade to youth mentorship groups.
Kelson Co. Ltd.

Kelson Co. Ltd.

Geo. A. Kelson Co. Ltd.
Construction and engineering
Sharon, Ont.
Years on list: 2

  • Kelson matches all charitable donations raised by employees and each employee is eligible for a company donation made on their behalf to a favourite charity.
  • The firm’s annual golf tournament, now in its 20th year, lets all workers, customers and suppliers mix away from offices or project sites.
  • Workers with innovative ideas can receive monthly, quarterly and annual awards.

LoyaltyOne Inc.
Marketing
Toronto
Years on list: 6

  • Employees talk to their bosses’ bosses through a “manager-once-removed” program.
  • The firm offers award-winning workplaces, as well as flexible work arrangements that include half days during the summer.
  • Its learning curriculum includes more than 6,000 online courses, instructor-led classes, and a tuition reimbursement program.

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Retail
Vancouver
Years on list: 4

  • Volunteering with international and local charities is encouraged. This year, workers have racked up at least 4,000 hours.
  • Employees share in the success of the firm through a quarterly rewards program that offers cash bonuses and even international trips.
  • With employee imput, the firm selects ethical causes—including an anti-bullying campaign—to support.

Maritime Travel Inc.
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Halifax
Years on list: 4

  • Branch managers and travel agents can share up to 30 per cent of their branch’s profits.
  • Each year the firm brings all its employees together for a weekend in Halifax where the CEO shares its financial details and goals.
  • Workers enjoy subsidized trips to destinations including the Caribbean, Europe and even Vietnam so they can gain first-hand travel experience of the itineraries their clients enjoy.

Marriott Hotels of Canada Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Mississauga, Ont.
Years on list: 10

  • Each department discusses daily communication packets on each shift; social media and blogs supplement monthly departmental meetings and quarterly all-employee town halls.
  • Already deeply discounted rates for workers and their immediate family—including children, parents and grandparents—are halved during the holiday season, provided the employee is part of the travelling party.
  • Employees average 78 hours of training and 34 hours of professional development a year.

McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Toronto
Years on list: 13

  • A promote-from-within culture means that 90 per cent of restaurant managers, half of franchisees and more than two-thirds of top managers (including the last three Canadian presidents), started their careers behind the counter.
  • For every 10 years of continuous service, employees can take an eight-week paid sabbatical, plus their regular vacation. Employees get an extra week of vacation on their fifth, 15th, 25th and 35th year anniversary.
  • An annual fitness-equipment or health-club allowance of up to $800 aids healthy lifestyles.

MNP LLP
Professional services
Calgary
Years on list: 7

  • As one of Canada’s fastest-growing firms, it is a great place for expedited career opportunities.
  • Its Balance Subsidy program reimburses the costs of activities that promote physical, mental or emotional wellness, including gym memberships, music classes and programs that help workers lose weight or quit smoking.
  • The company gives back to local communities through sponsorships, volunteer efforts and contributions to charities.

Mouvement Desjardins
Financial services
Lévis, Que.
Years on list: 4

  • As a socially responsible and environmentally conscious organization, the financial institution plays an important role in the community.
  • Employees strike a balance between work and personal commitments that means work-related stress is manageable.
  • The benefits package is tailored to meet the needs of its employees and their families.

National Bank of Canada
Financial services
Montreal
Years on list: 10

  • Open and transparent communication with senior management is exemplified by live chat sessions; executives tour the country to meet with employees.
  • In addition to a defined benefit pension plan and group insurance, workers can take advantage of competitive working conditions including flexible work arrangements.
  • Firm offers e-learning as well as in-house and external training.

Novotel Canada
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Mississauga, Ont.
Years on list: 6

  • Specially tailored programs give each employee a clear and progressive career path, including obtaining professional designations.
  • During its employee appreciation week, managers show appreciation for their teams by washing their cars and serving meals.
  • Employees throughout the organization are trained and trusted to resolve customer service complaints.
OMERS

OMERS

OMERS
Financial services
Toronto
Years on list: 7

  • Generous benefits, including an annual wellness allowance and flexible work options, support employee health and well-being.
  • The firm has a variety of awards programs that promote excellence and customer service.
  • Each year employees outline proposed charitable assignments to the Volunteer Sponsorship Program. The company gives selected employees up to 10 days paid time off and pays the majority of costs, such as flights and accomodations. Last year a worker taught hygiene to schoolchildren in Cambodia.

OpenRoad Auto Group Ltd.
Auto sales
Richmond, B.C.
Years on list: 4

  • The firm’s leadership development programs promote growth and advancement within the organization.
  • Staff are recognized both for years of service with the firm and for their personal efforts.
  • All staff are included at monthly and annual events organized by the firm.

PCL Constructors Inc.
Construction and engineering
Edmonton
Years on list: 15

  • Since the firm’s employees own 100 per cent of the firm, the workers have a very real motivation to make the firm succeed.
  • Donations at the firm, which focuses its charitable giving on the United Way, Red Cross and local community initiatives, top more than $10 million annually.
  • The PCL College of Construction, more than 20 years old, offers employees comprehensive, custom-designed, -developed and -delivered programs.

Purdys Chocolatier
Retail
Vancouver
Years on list: 6

  • Production and warehouse employees are awarded points based on the impact of ideas they submit to improve processes and programs; the points can be used for rewards varying from a coffee card to paid days off.
  • The firm provides on-site massage therapy sessions for all office and factory employees, at a cost of just $20 per hour.
  • All retail employees are given a “chocolate diary” with information about the products and the firm, and information on the proper way to evaluate chocolate.

SAP Canada Inc.
Information technology
Toronto
Years on list: 9

  • Its enhanced benefits program includes maternity leave top-up, tuition subsidies and share matching.
  • Corporate social responsibility includes an initiative to foster a love of technology among high school students.
  • The firm’s Autism at Work program is designed to foster the special talents of autistic individuals, with the aim of having persons with autism comprise one per cent of SAP’s global workforce.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Canada
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Toronto
Years on list: 13

  • To help employees build their own career paths, online training programs are accessible to all.
  • Starwood provides opportunities for workers to gain experience globally, and pays close attention to internal promotions and career progressions.
  • All workers are encouraged to experience the firm’s hotels and restaurants themselves, at discounted rates, so as to better communicate the experiences to guests.

Stewart McKelvey LLP
Legal services
N/A
Years on list: 1

  • The firm largely funds a generous benefit plan that includes 100 per cent, firm-paid medical and dental plans for families, life insurance and matching pension or RSP contributions.
  • The corporate social responsibility program focuses on pro bono work, community investment, diversity and sustainability.
  • The law firm’s “service first” philosophy creates a passionate commitment to service and a fun place to work.

Stikeman Elliott LLP
Legal services
Toronto
Years on list: 6

  • Employees mingle at numerous social events including summer and holiday parties, morning breakfasts, pizza lunches and Pride celebrations.
  • Professional development is enhanced through numerous in-house training programs as well as 100 per cent firm-paid job-related courses.
  • The firm supported more than 170 organizations last year and provided more than $1 million to charities and law schools through its donation-matching program.

Toronto-Dominion Bank
Financial services
Toronto
Years on list: 7

  • Career advancement and stimulation comes from the bank having more than 1,400 unique types of careers; last year nearly 20 per cent of employees changed roles.
  • Development and performance comes from extensive training opportunities; last year, the average employee spent 24 hours learning.
  • More than 16,000 workers registered with TD’s Volunteer Network, logging almost 90,000 hours; if a worker volunteers more than 40 hours a year, he or she can earn a $500 donation to that registered charity.

WestJet Airlines Ltd.
Hotels, restaurants and leisure
Calgary
Years on list: 3

  • Employees can take part in a voluntary employee share purchase plan, with a 100 per cent company match on up to 20 per cent of their gross regular earnings in WestJet shares.
  • The firm offers discounts on tickets and packaged holidays to workers and their families.
  • A care team supports and organizes more than 200 internal events ranging from ski days and softball tournaments to wine tastings and ice cream days.

Westminster Savings Credit Union
Financial services
New Westminster, B.C.
Years on list: 3

  • Credit union leaders collect feedback from employees and customers through surveys, focus groups and forums, and act on that information.
  • Employees have career growth opportunities through new positions and innovative training programs.
  • The leadership team visits every branch and department regularly; there is a commitment to open and timely communication.

 

Canada’s 50 best employers

  1. Note how few Union greed companies, corporate-union welfare companies are missing.

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