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Cultivating a motivated and supported workforce is of paramount importance for Canadian HR Reporter’s 5-Star Rewards and Recognition winners, as evidenced by their employee rewards programs.
Operating across finance, manufacturing, and telecommunications, these companies maintain unique and innovative employee rewards programs centred on the belief that their people are their most valuable asset.
According to a survey conducted by McLean & Company, employees who report high levels of recognition are 1.4 times more likely to intend to stay with their organization, compared to those who report low levels.
Industry expert Rachel Stewart, associate vice president of HR research & advisory services at McLean, highlights the value of customized rewards.
“As with any component of the overall employee experience, rewards and recognition should be tailored to the employee. There is no one-stop-shop for a top-performing rewards and recognition program. Ultimately, Canadian employees should expect – and receive – recognition that aligns with what matters to them.”
To better reward and recognize employees, the 5-Star winners have implemented the following employee rewards programs:
“We increased our mental health benefit plan to the highest level we could. That’s something that I think a lot of companies aren’t doing but we really wanted to focus on”
Laura SalvatoreCenturion Asset Management
Centurion Asset Management
Engaging employee rewards programs
In 2023, the Toronto-based firm rewarded its employees by issuing:
$14,200 in gift cards
The company also revamped its Centurion Learning Academy, an online platform offering over 10,000 development courses for employees. It aims to drive engagement and continuous learning, allowing employees to engage in friendly competition with colleagues by completing modules for points.
According to Laura Salvatore, vice president of human capital, because of a rise in employee participation, the program introduced new tiers to its scoring system:
5,000 points for $200 in gift cards
7,500 points for $300 in gift cards
Salvatore adds that the updated rewards programs have encouraged more employees to complete courses, with the program achieving 70 percent participation in 2022.
“Prior to introducing the gamification component, we did not have as much participation, but once we introduced it, things really started to take off,” says Salvatore. “It was an interesting exercise to complete, and we’ve taken that lesson and applied it to other [programs] in our workplace.”
After reviewing Centurion’s employee survey data, Salvatore noticed that staff were asking for an online system where they could set personal objectives. “This was surprising to us because we have a goal-setting tool, but no one knew about it.”
She adds, “For 2024, our action plan will actually be educating employees on this tool and how they can use it and the benefits that they can get from it.”
“When you’re at an executive level, you’re not doing all the work that your team members are. Keeping them happy and being able to take in their feedback – that’s how you win in today’s business”
Tristan KirkCitadel Mortgages
From Europe to the Caribbean, the firm’s high-performing sales associates are rewarded with hotel stays at over 60 global destinations.
Launched at the end of 2021, Citadel’s travel incentive is an employee rewards programs designed around a quarterly $2 million sales target. Each employee that reaches the figure earns up to a five-night stay at a destination of their choosing.
Kirk describes the program as the “best thing” the company has rolled out in recent years and feels an effective rewards and recognition program must:
“You can pay employees more, but what they really want is experiences, and they want experiences with their friends, their family, their partner. The only way you’re going to win is by taking care of your employees. Your people are your lifeline,” he says.
Kirk also believes in making rewards realistic and accessible. Prior to implementing the $2 million target, he considered the average Canadian home loan, which according to Snappy Rates’ latest figures was $363,654. This provides brokers a realistic sales goal.
“It’s going to cost us more money as a company to reward more people. But we if we can get more people doing that minimum $2 million per quarter, we’re going to justify that on the sales growth year over year. Let’s make it attainable for people and realistic to keep them driving.”
Citadel also believes employee rewards programs are not about only gaining a competitive edge but working together to improve industry standards.
“One of the highlights of being on [this list] is being able to change the mindset of other businesses out there and show them different offerings that can help impact their business,” says Kirk. “Taking care of more Canadians in the workforce – that’s a win at the end of the day.”
“I have a lot of employees who have been offered jobs elsewhere. And the common denominator on why they did not leave us is the people, the community, and the culture here”
Marnie PerezKryton International
Better results earn better rewards
The concrete waterproofing firm is another organization that embraces travel incentives in its employee rewards programs. If Kryton records 20 percent annual growth, the 62-person staff are taken on an all-inclusive trip to Mexico. The program was halted during the pandemic but resumed at the end of 2023.
Kryton also offers a tiered travel rewards system for employee annual sales:
President’s award: $2 million and above receive a $1,500 travel voucher
Chairman’s award: $4 million and above receive a $3,000 travel voucher
“People are the most important asset in any company. If you’re not able to engage, empower or even inspire your team, that is not authentic leadership,” adds human resources manager Marnie Perez.
Another key part of Kryton’s rewards strategy includes service awards. To recognize tenure milestones, the company awards employees with a personalized:
To ensure employees are primed for long-term success, Kryton introduced a top-grading system that enables staff to maintain a clear understanding of where they are excelling and how they can improve.
“We have a very robust performance rating system, which has been very helpful were the ratings range from A+, A, B and C.” Perez says. “If an employee does not meet the expectations, we make sure they get the coaching they need to meet or exceed expectations next time….”
“We’re in tech, so agile development is a big thing for us. We’re continuously seeking feedback and carrying out improvements for employees”
Listening to your people
The real-time video and networking provider appreciates that feedback goes in both directions. Employee surveys helped Dejero gather feedback on:
Through the company’s Leader 360 review, employees comment on manager leadership.
“It allows employees to measure if they’re getting recognized for the work that they’re doing. Being able to voice your opinion on that is important, and we action those comments with the leaders as well. It’s a great opportunity for feedback,” adds Meaghan Booth, people and culture business partner.
Additionally, surveys highlighted the need for improved reimbursement policies. Dejero used to refund employees for development courses, but after reviewing feedback, realized the strategy was not ideal.
“We understand for some folks it can be challenging to put dollars up front, especially right now with the increased cost of living,” says Christine Vigna, chief people officer.
As long as employees remain within budget, Dejero’s updated policy will pay in advance for any education-related expense.
“You need to keep those continuous cycles of communication going,” adds Vigna. “Our folks are incredibly generous with their feedback and let us know how our programs are landing.”
Another way Dejero’s employee rewards program is shaped by listening to its people is through its gift-card platform, where the company seeks to recognize employees with meaningful benefit.
“Are you giving them something to do with their kids? Are you giving them a gift card at a restaurant they enjoy? Personalizing recognition is so important to get that maximum level of engagement and motivation out of the employee,” says Booth.
- Armour Insurance Group
- BI WORLDWIDE Canada
- Citadel Mortgages
- Centurion Asset Management
- Coast Mental Health
- CAA Club Group of Companies