Choosing the right employer that both challenges and cares for its workers can be as difficult as finding the right person for the job. We all have our personal set of standards and so too do companies; finding a soft footing where both the employee and employer are happy isn’t any easy task.
For nearly 20 years, Canada’s Top 100 Employers Competition awards top companies in Canada that are leading their industries in offering exceptional workplaces for their employees. Companies submit a “substantial package” that includes a number of details on their health and financial benefits, training programs, family-friendly policies, time-off policies, and so on. An employer is eligible to enter the national competition as long as its head office or prominent place of operation is in Canada (size does not matter). This year over 90,000 employers were surveyed with approximately 7,500 of them asked to submit applications by Mediacorp, the nation’s largest publisher of employment periodicals.
“Over the course of the summer we extract a number of the data points that are included in the application and input them into a proprietary database,” says Kristina Leung, senior editor at Mediacorp. “We then sort this large spreadsheet of data by industry, by region, by size of employees, all to ensure that we are comparing organizations that are similar to each other – banks to banks, hospitals to hospitals, for example.”
Then comes the laser assessments, where Mediacorp editors evaluate and grade employers on eight factors: Physical Workplace, Workplace Atmosphere and Social, Health, Financial and Family Benefits, Vacation and Time-Off, Employee Communications, Performance Management, Training and Skills Development and Community Involvement. From there it becomes “very clear to see what organizations are offering and where some of the gaps exist,” says Leung. It allows companies that are really servicing their employees well (i.e. benefits) to stand out.
Leung, who has been working on the annual project for nearly seven years, says that every year there is a little progression seen by organizations that want to offer better benefits to their employees. She points to “maternity leave top-ups” as one area that has seen improvement. Leung says there’s not one recipe a company needs to employ in order to make the ‘Top 100’ list, but a mixture of ingredients.
“For us it’s the whole package, it’s about which organizations are investing in their people, and that entails health plans, preparing employees for the long term, for family support–there’s a whole host of things and it really depends on what industries they’re in,” says Leung.
“We are seeing many organizations take advantage of the tools now available that enable employees to have flexibility and perhaps to have more work times that better suit them. It’s about looking at when employees will be most productive” and how companies will foster change.
Leung says communications, feedback and providing recognition are all central to the success and well-being of a organization’s workforce, especially for organizations that have several sites across the country. Now that it’s easier to connect digitally, employers continue to embrace technology, which leads to interesting developments in their work catalogue and redefines what work means and how work actually gets done. It’s these HR practices and perks that set organizations apart.
One of the ‘Top 100’ entries, Rogers Communications, is among the companies changing their physical environment, providing spaces for employees that aren’t necessarily in everyday (a.k.a. no assigned seating). Leung says this is an example of how “employers are changing the physical side of work and what the workplace looks like now.”
This year a total of 16 new names were added to the 2018 roster, including Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Alberta Health Services and ACL Services. As mentioned, size doesn’t matter — MSF has just over 250 employees while Alberta Health Services employs nearly 46,000.