Proud to be the best (Editor’s notes)

What it means to work for a Top 100 employer

Making a best employer list is a crowning achievement for an organization. It says the company is walking the talk, it cares about its staff, and it gets the connection between an engaged and loyal workforce and productivity and profits.

The companies that made Canada’s Top 100 Employers list for 2009 (see page 22) are an interesting mix of organizations. Large and small, companies you’ve never heard of before and corporate titans that are household names. A quick review of the names on the list proves one undeniable fact: Any organization can be a top employer, regardless of industry, size or location.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It takes a lot of effort, innovative programs and, yes, it costs money. Maternity leave top ups, expanded vacation policies and unique perks aren’t cheap. They are investments that pay dividends, just like spending money on new equipment or research and development. They translate into an engaged workforce, reduced turnover and a corporate brand that attracts the best talent available. What could possibly be more important to an employer?

That’s one of the reasons we dedicated so much space to covering the winners — in fact, it’s our biggest section on the topic ever. For the first time, we’ve included a comprehensive listing of all the employers, including three of the reasons why the editors at Mediacorp Canada selected them. It will give you a better understanding of what the best employers in the country are doing and what separated the wheat from the chaff.

This year, I’m writing from a slightly different perspective. That’s because the publishers of Canadian HR Reporter — Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business — is on this list for the first time in 2009.

No one likes a braggart. Or a loudmouth. But, at the risk of being both, I want to share my views as an employee on what it’s like to work for a best employer. And I have a bit of a unique perspective, because Carswell has nailed the trifecta of best employer competitions. It’s been on the Best 50 Employers in Canada list, published by Hewitt. It made the list of Great Workplaces in Canada, the list published by the Great Place to Work Institute. And now it’s on Mediacorp’s list.

Awards like this look great on the wall and in recruitment campaigns, but what does it mean on a day-to-day basis for employees? A cynical worker might say, “Not much.” And, on the surface, it might look that way. It’s not like you walk in the door, look around at the staff and say, “Wow. This must be a top employer.”

Benefits like maternity leave and compassionate leave top-up payments sound great, but if you’re not having kids or haven’t had a sick relative to care for, what difference do they really make? Employees don’t appreciate benefits until they need them.

But it’s not how individual employees view individual benefits — it’s the sum of the parts that truly matters, and the engaged workforce it helps create. Do top employers have disengaged workers? Undoubtedly. But they undoubtedly have fewer of them.

For me, an employee of a top employer, it’s the things you don’t do that are most telling. You don’t wake up in the morning dreading going to work. You don’t go to bed bitter, following a long day of toiling in an environment where management doesn’t care about workers.

These aren’t touchy-feely HR stories. Being a top employer is about being a strong business and a leader in your field. After all, if you can’t take care of your own employees, how can you expect them to take care of your customers?

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!