A new poll reveals the top places to work in Canada, but do Coldplay concerts and tree-planting days really boost a company’s bottom line?
Jen Wetherow is the director of Great Place to Work Canada. She says the company’s list measures credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie.
“When you work with your people in a way that makes your employees happier, you end up with happier clients and stakeholders,” she says.
Anyone can nominate a firm and GPTW then invites the workplaces to participate. A private survey is then sent to employees. The answers to this “trust index” account for two-thirds of a company’s score. The other third comes a GPTW “culture audit” of the company’s HR policies on things like maternity leave and same-sex partner rights.
Bruce MacLellan is president of Environics, which came in first this year. The public relations firm is known for taking staff to Coldplay concerts and the “mandatory” vacations it pays for when staff reach milestone years.
He says getting poster slogans off the walls and into real life takes work. He likens it to building a hockey team over several years.
“Leaders have to lead to set directions, values and priorities, but then everyone on the team has to contribute,” he says.
When MacLellan leaves early for family reasons, he lets his staff know, thereby setting the tone for a healthy work-life balance. Environics had a mini baby boom last year, creating overlapping maternity leaves that were hard to handle. It responded by improving its flex hours and guaranteeing staff a daycare spot.
“If we see people here past six o’clock for more than a couple of nights in a row, we see that as a problem,” MacLellan says.
Peter Jeewan is CEO of the Lannick Group of Companies, a recruiting firm in Ontario that made GPTW’s top 75. He says his company generates money solely out of its human resources, so creating a great place to work is a pragmatic part of attracting and retaining high-caliber staff.
That means regular contact with staff. While Lannick doesn’t go the Coldplay route, it does sponsor the Heart and Stroke Foundation and give employees the option of spending a day a year planting trees on the Toronto islands.
“Our employees, we feel, are very well rewarded financially,” he says. “We try to focus on giving back to the community.”