Resiliency is what distinguishes this year's winning employers
Resiliency is one trait shared among the 75 vastly varied organizations that make up this year's list of Alberta's top employers.
Last year was a difficult one for many companies, agencies and non-profit groups across the province as the challenges brought about by a struggling energy industry were felt throughout the economy.
Yet, such was the high standard of those organizations applying to be included as part of the 14th annual Alberta's Top Employers list that the number of businesses making the grade for 2019 was increased from 70 to 75.
Richard Yerema, managing editor responsible for organizing the competition for Canada's Top 100 Employers, said the list of leading Alberta workplaces is one of the most volatile and dynamic in the country.
"One of the unique aspects of the Alberta story to us is a resiliency that I don't think is that well understood outside of the province. There's a greater maturity and diversity to the economy that might not be reflected in the daily headlines," says Yerema.
"The employers that made this year's list paint a more robust and stable picture in terms of employment in Alberta than many might at first imagine."
He adds that the competition is open to all employers across the province, with an underlying goal of painting a picture of what it looks like to work in Alberta in 2019.
Those applying for inclusion in the list were judged upon eight categories that are designed to showcase the progressive policies and practices in place in each workplace.
Employers are evaluated by the editors of Canada's Top 100 Employers using the same eight criteria as the national competition: (1) Physical Workplace; (2) Work Atmosphere & Social; (3) Health, Financial & Family Benefits; (4) Vacation & Time Off; (5) Employee Communications; (6) Performance Management; (7) Training & Skills Development; and (8) Community Involvement.
Employers are compared to other organizations in their field to determine which offer the most progressive and forward-thinking programs.
– Chris Nelson, for the Calgary Herald
From the official announcement magazine for Alberta's Top Employers (2019), published on February 20, 2019 in the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal.
Top employers stand out in their industries for employee retention, keeping the best and brightest
Loyalty and longevity in employment are disappearing as quickly as outdoor payphones across Canada.
A recent massive national study, which looked at seven million work histories of Canadians, showed that younger workers are increasingly likely to hop from not only one employer to another but also to change actual careers at a rate that would have stunned their parents.
And that trend is not slowing down. In fact, it is increasing.
For example, people who graduated from university 25 years ago -- part of the so-called generation X grouping -- worked an average of 3.2 jobs in their first dozen years of full time employment.
However, those leaving college 10 years later -- the generation Y cohort -- were employed in an average of 3.9 jobs in their first 12 years in the Canadian workforce. At such a rate the average Canadian will work at a dozen jobs in his or her lifetime.
Contrast that with their baby boomer parents. When Statistics Canada recently asked those in their 50s about their work history, the agency found more than half of the boomers surveyed had worked for the same employer for more than 20 years.
Of course those with the most valuable skills are the very ones who can make the leap to a new employer with the most ease. That is why attracting and, just as importantly, retaining such talent is vital for companies across the country, including in Alberta.
The 75 organizations chosen to be included among the 14th annual Alberta's Top Employers know this only too well and have instituted their own programs and practices to make sure that those most vital to the future health of the organization don't leave and take their particular skill sets elsewhere.
One of Alberta's Top 75 companies, CompuVision Systems, was founded in Edmonton to provide internet technology management and outsourcing services for area companies. Chief executive officer Ryan Vestby well understands the benefits of loyalty and longevity -- he was the company's third employee when he was hired as a 21-year-old back in 1997.
"That is rare nowadays. People move all over the place and loyalty and perseverance is becoming less and less common," he says.
In the IT employment world, CompuVision is often competing against large governmental departments for staff and it is next to impossible to match the salaries on offer, says Vestby.
"We pay market rates, but if we are going against the Alberta government, for example, then we are never going to win based only on pay as they can always pay more. We have to focus on other things -- providing valuable and interesting work that people can become passionate about," he says.
To ensure the company did exactly that, CompuVision changed its focus two years ago, expanding beyond the more traditional work on servers and desktop IT.
"We started to focus on emerging technologies, things that are going to impact the globe as a whole. When you have those conversations with people -- about artificial intelligence and machine learning -- it is exciting and being curious is one of our core values. It opens up a new world of thinking.
"These days I view us as a 25-year-old startup. We have the mindset of a brand new company. I think that is compelling and keeps people here because the work is exciting," adds Vestby.
Fiasco Gelato Cafes, another of the Alberta companies to make the Top 75, is an artisan gelato and sorbetto company based in Calgary. It was founded 16 years ago and is now among the fastest growing private companies in the country.
James Boettcher is not only the chief executive officer, but also chief idea officer and custodian of culture at Fiasco. He knows how important it is to retain those people he calls his 'A-list' employees, the ones that not only meet expectations but also often go well beyond them.
Fiasco rewards employees with share purchase and profit sharing plans as well as anniversary gifts for long-serving staff -- rewards that have included custom portraits by local artists and trips to Italy to study the art of making gelato.
Boettcher's goal is simple: he wants to create a company that his own father would enjoy working in.
"At the core, Fiasco has always focused on creating an environment where great people can thrive through never-ending opportunity and the freedom to innovate and create. The very first team member here is still on board, as well as several others over five years, which is infinitely rare in a startup or small business," he says.
"I also adopted a philosophy early on of creating a company I would want my dad to work for -- an inclusive place that focuses more on results and contribution rather than resumes and time spent occupying a desk.
"We want a company that focuses on meritocracy -- encouraging people to achieve their greatest potential, and recognizing them. That is how we attract quality people and retain them regardless of outside influence. You don't need to compete when you know who you are," adds Boettcher.